The local government sector has a long history of acting to reduce risks and build community resilience before emergency events, and providing leadership, support and practical action in the aftermath.
For many councils, emergency management has been synonymous with uncertainty, confusion and a disconnection with their strategic priorities and ‘normal’ business. With emergency events impacting councils and their communities more often and in different ways, this approach is no longer acceptable.
In response, councils reached out for assistance and Council Ready was born. Centrally coordinated by the Local Government Association, the program is working with each council to build organisational capability in emergency management in a way that is relative to their risks, capabilities and community context.
The program’s first stage involved engagement with more than 550 people from all 68 councils, enabling recognition of the breadth of councils’ contributions to disaster risk reduction, the outstanding commitment of experienced and dedicated staff, and the community-centric approaches that characterise councils’ efforts in recovery.
In the current stage two, the program has turned this engagement into action, with council staff and the Council Ready team working together on agreed actions to strengthen emergency management maturity.
Work undertaken has been as diverse as the councils themselves. Some councils are working to better apply climate and hazard data across departments, while others are formalising their operational documentations, and others innovating in recovery planning. Others again are embedding emergency management into their strategic plans.
The program’s recent independent evaluation highlighted a particular strength to be the respectful and inclusive engagement, which is generating new insights, building procedural confidence and strengthening connections, all of which are foundational to cultural change at scale.
This talk will tell the story of the program’s impact and reach, and prospects for the future.