North Richmond has been chosen as one of three NSW towns to trial a new national framework to improve community disaster preparedness and resilience.
The township was selected by the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) to pilot a community-led approach to disaster preparedness.
The pilot will identify effective approaches to building community resilience and determine what is needed to be better prepared and more resilient in the event of a natural disaster.
The community will co-design a framework and provide an evidence base to ultimately increase awareness of risk, and build capacity to strengthen the disaster preparedness and resilience of communities throughout NSW and Australia.
Community groups from the North Richmond and Bowen Mountain areas recently met with the Hawkesbury State Emergency Service, police, and council representatives to kick start the process.
Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett said the initial workshop was one of many that would be held throughout the pilot program.
The advantage of the program was that local people would bring their knowledge to the table to develop the best possible action plans for local communities in the event of a disaster, she said.
“The idea of it is to have a locally-specific knowledge of what you do when there’s a disaster,” she said. “It’s who checks on whom, where, and how to access required information. A cohesive community increases resilience.
“Areas like Bowen Mountain have one road in and out. What do you do if that road is blocked? This is an example of an issue this pilot will be looking at.”
FRRR chief executive Natalie Egleton said the effects of more frequent and severe natural disasters could be mitigated with better community preparedness, but that each community needed to be involved in developing its own approach relevant to their context.
“We know that when communities are better prepared for disasters, they recover faster and more effectively than those that are not. So, we are using the latest research into how communities can build their resilience to inform these community-led, place-based pilots,” she said in a statement.
“Each of the pilot communities is either at-risk or has experienced the impact of a natural disaster in the past. Most importantly, they have the capacity and interest to participate in this new approach to developing community-led preparedness.
“The projects will be evaluated to establish evidence of best practice approaches that can be adopted and adapted on a national-scale for other communities, so they too can improve their preparedness.”