Communities Respond, is a unique and innovative organisation offering a diverse range of specialised training opportunities which are focused on developing an enhanced level of individual and community preparedness for crisis, critical incidents and emergencies through the delivery of the Communities Respond Model. This model is an interactive, practical based, multiphase community education program designed to support and enable the development of individual and community resilience including the enhanced capacity, practical skills and strategies required to provide self help and offer mutual aid in response to a crisis, critical incident or emergency.
The Communities Respond Model promotes understanding of the principles of Crisis Response, Critical Incident Stress Management (C.I.S.M) Emergency Response, Risk Awareness & Mitigation and Emergency Preparedness. It strives to engage the individual and the community in a learning partnership which enhances individual, family, neighbourhood, group, service providers, business and community participation in a unique opportunity to develop a new, more proactive perspective in regard to their choice to be more aware and better prepared to respond to crisis, critical incidents and emergencies.
The Communities Respond Model explores the impact of crisis, critical incidents and emergencies upon both the individual and the community matrix. The model seeks to develop a common language with which to engage the community in an effective and inclusive dialogue in regard to issues of risk awareness & mitigation, emergency preparedness & response, self care, the development of an understanding of the concept of psychological and social resilience and other associated issues as identified, specific to each individual and community.
The delivery of the model will be highly interactive with emphasis on “hands on” participation and the learning of practical core skills and strategies which are action focused and translatable to achieve increased understanding of the appropriate responses required to enhance the response and recovery process within a diverse range of potential situations.
Communities Respond seeks to ensure the establishment of our model within the global community
In particular the Communities Respond Model is designed to raise awareness within the community in regard to issues of social vulnerability and allow the community to give understanding to what this may look like within the unique context of their own community. Extending this concept, the Communities Respond Model provides focus on equity of needs, for both individuals and groups, giving opportunity to identify both specific needs and potential responses or resources which may provide appropriate short term and longer term solutions germane to the desired outcomes.
Complementary to this concept the Communities Respond Model endeavours to identify the strengths of the individual and the strengths within each community and to highlight the benefits of working with the existing Community Capital and investing energy and resources into developing the depth and dimensions of this valuable community asset.
This focus on a strengths based model acknowledges all members within the community as being partners in this collaborative process in which Communities Response is working with the community in an inclusive manner which gives value to social participation at all levels.
In doing so Communities Respond seeks to ensure the establishment of our model within the global community as a vehicle for change toward greater awareness and better preparedness in the face of crisis, critical incidents and emergencies for individuals, families, households, neighbourhoods, groups, service providers, businesses and indeed whole communities.
This exposé will provide an insight into the Communities Respond Model, its proposed establishment, what will be available in our service portfolio and how we envisage providing these services to the community. Additionally it will examine the sustainability of the model and the necessity to develop a comprehensive service delivery framework to achieve our vision of delivering a quality crisis and emergency preparedness community education model to the community.
In the wake of Cyclone Larry in the Far North of Queensland, Australia, Dr Alison Cotterel of the Centre for Disaster Studies at James Cook University, Townsville, Australia, addressed the 2006 Cyclone Summit in Cairns. Central to her address was the recognition of the urgent need for community based crisis and emergency awareness and preparedness programs to foster resilience within individuals and communities.
This idea of people centre participation is not new and is founded on the belief that people (and communities) are capable of critical reflection and analysis and that their knowledge is relevant and necessary as well as focal to the development of an aware and prepared community. (Twigg et al 2001)
In order to develop programs which successfully facilitate an individual and community centred approach it is necessary to bridge the gaps in individual and community versus service providers expectations, current awareness and knowledge base. This may be achieved through the development, implementation and delivery of comprehensive, inclusive and interactive community based education programs which are practical in design, outcome focused in intent, orientated on social participation models and provided within a framework of community consultation and individual needs assessment.
Case studies in the United States, most notably, the City of Berkley, California, showed that following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and 1991 East Bay Hills firestorm, there was a need to address individual and community resilience development through community focused educational awareness campaigns and a recognition that governments cannot stand alone in hazard mitigation and response.
Findings presented in the World Disasters Report 2004 (Ch 1 From Risk to Resilience) have shown that investment in building on community resilience and local knowledge, has in many cases, seen recovery operations commenced successfully by local populations well in advance of national and international team responses, particularly within the vital immediate post emergency period. Thus reinforcing the benefit analysis of a community resilience focus.
Resilience may potentially enhance the capacity to respond to change or adversity. In view of this much has been written about developing individual and community resilience and empowerment which has perhaps been most aptly described as;
A process through which individuals, as well as local groups and communities identify and shape their lives and the kind of society in which they live……….. empowerment means that people are able to organise and influence change on the basis of their access to knowledge, to political process and to financial, social and natural resources. (Slocum et al, 1995)
Yet Community resilience and empowerment remain nebulous concepts often referred to yet difficult to define and give practical application to by very nature of their intangibility, quite simply they are more then the sum of their parts.
In developing the Communities Respond Model it is our aim to define a nexus of shared understanding both within and beyond communities and individuals within our communities, as a conduit to building enhanced community resilience and empowerment. In doing so we invite partnership within all levels of community; individuals, families, households, neighbourhoods, groups, service providers, businesses and whole communities, in an evolving dialogue which engenders collaboration in the journey towards understanding community resilience and empowerment in tandem with crisis response and emergency preparedness.
Thus it is towards building more empowered, aware and prepared individuals and communities that Communities Respond seeks to address the enhancement of social resilience through community partnership by creating a sustainable and practical level of awareness and preparedness through the delivery of the Communities Respond Model, an interactive, practical based, multiphase community education program designed to promote the understanding of the principles of Crisis response, Emergency Management and a preparedness to act both individually or in a group capacity to respond to a crisis, critical incident or an emergency…… to provide self help and offer mutual aid.