Published works

Published works

Opportunities and challenges of citizen-led recovery in post-disaster settings

TitleOpportunities and challenges of citizen-led recovery in post-disaster settings
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsWhittaker, J
Conference NameAFAC16
Date Published08/2016
PublisherBushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
Conference LocationBrisbane

The rise of resilience thinking has seen a significant shift in responsibility for risk. Citizens are now expected to take greater responsibility for managing their own risks and are afforded more opportunities for participating in risk management processes. This shift is driven by recognition of the considerable knowledge and agency that exist among citizens, but also the diminished role of the state in service provision. This paper considers the complexities of a citizen-led, place-based recovery project initiated following the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in southeastern Australia. This innovative project aimed to provide practical assistance to people whose homes were destroyed by bushfire to enable them to begin the rebuilding process. A key strength of the project was that it was initiated and implemented by local people to meet specific local needs. As members of the affected community, project participants were able to draw on local knowledge, networks and resources to achieve their goals, and were highly responsive to changing local conditions. However, participants experienced significant difficulties in their interactions with official agencies and entanglements with bureaucratic processes and procedures. As local people, the strain of assisting affected people to rebuild and recover was also considerable. These findings reinforce the need to better assist and support community members who choose to participate in emergency and disaster management but are unfamiliar with bureaucratic processes and procedures, or the challenges of the post-disaster phase. It is also necessary to consider how to simplify processes and procedures to maximise community participation. Failure to do so may encourage people to circumvent formal processes, for better or worse.

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