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The case for connection: Including our most vulnerable in resilience building.

Updated: May 27

We know that during a disaster, the most vulnerable in our communities are often hardest hit.  The impacts of a shock like a fire or flood can disproportionately affect those people experiencing poverty, homelessness, family violence or a disability. Or people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, First Nations communities or those who are socially isolated.


When access to resources is not the same for everyone, for a range of reasons, bouncing back (and building resilience) from an event becomes even more difficult for these in need communities.

The Resilience Canopy works to assist people and communities who are disadvantaged and marginalised. We provide them with the support and resources they need to overcome adversity and rebuild their lives.


In every community there are underlying challenges and vulnerabilities that need to be considered when developing a vision for community resilience. Some communities are more ‘at risk’ than others, due to their socio-economic make up and/or the frequency of natural disasters.


One thing remains true for all communities.  The more connected and empowered they are to build their own resilience, the more likely they will succeed in doing so. Where communities are able to plan for resilience with their most vulnerable people in mind, they’re likely to make a stronger impact for those who are 'at risk'.


The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission recommended that emergency management agencies develop a list of vulnerable residents who need tailored advice of the recommendation to evacuate in an emergency, after noting that ‘vulnerable people’ were overrepresented in the mortality figures.


One of the ways governments responded was to create a vulnerable person’s policy.

As Don Garlick in his peer reviewed AIDR article “ The Vulnerable People in Emergencies Policy: hiding vulnerable people in plain sight”  identifies, the execution of that policy in Victoria has  "completely subverted the intent of the Commission’s recommendation, by limiting the scope, redefining vulnerability and failing to facilitate direct connection to emergency services”.


The Resilience Canopy aims to fill the gap of the Royal Commissions intention where state and local governments can’t easily do - by helping empower the community to lead their own resilience building and identifying where they need to build connections and involve and listen to the voices of the more socially marginalised or disadvantaged.


The Blue Mountains Community Connections Project, (which followed the 2013 bushfires) identified useful strategies and insights to bring in and connect the most vulnerable people in their communities to improve community wide resilience.


Whilst also recommending a formal ‘council strategy for vulnerable people’, it also highlighted that socially marginalised, vulnerable people and communities have existing strengths and capacities and can contribute to the wider communities. Enhancing their inclusion in wider community activities can also enhance their resilience.


This idea of connection is at the heart of The Resilience Canopy.  The movement we are creating is about building Connection, Respect, Empowerment and Wisdom, across ALL parts of the community, particularly to benefit and lift up those who are most disadvantaged.



Linked articles:


Australian Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub.  Garlick, Don (2014)-  The Vulnerable People in Emergencies Policy: hiding vulnerable people in plain sight.


Working Together to Improve Disaster Resilience in Your Local Community – The Blue Mountains Commuity Connections Project


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