Fiona Jennings, a resident of Dunalley in Tasmania, has recently begun a PhD project as part of the non-traditional volunteering project titled ‘Community volunteering and disaster recovery; a case study of community resilience in the 2013 Forcett Bushfire, Tasmania’.
In the days following the 2013 Forcett bushfire in Tasmania, community members (non-traditional volunteers) spontaneously adopted roles and responsibilities of protecting, caring and helping those affected by the bushfire, utilising what local resources were available at the time to meet those needs
In an emergency local people are generally the first responders, and community participation and ownership is now recognised as a crucial aspect of disaster recovery, fostering community resilience and building community.
The study will examine community members’ experiences of non-traditional emergency volunteering and identify how volunteering contributes to building community resilience. The aim of this research is to contribute to policy and practice of building community resilience and supporting communities’ in future natural disasters.
Disaster resilient communities and their resourcefulness to approach and respond in natural hazard events, play a key role in the disaster recovery process. It is critical that the organisational and cultural characteristics of people living and coping in a bushfire disaster is gathered at a ground level to enable practices that recognise and support local community resilience.