Professional Development Program

Workshop: Engagement Matters

The Engagement Matters workshops focused on community engagement for disaster preparedness, response and recovery. 

In May 2017, the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience co-hosted a two-day workshop in Albury, New South Wales, focused on community engagement for disaster preparedness, response and recovery. Workshops were delivered by researchers and practitioners from a range of organisations including Tasmania Fire Service, QFES, RMIT University, SES Victoria, NSW Rural Fire Service, and a keynote address from Tim Muirhead of CSD Network.

Challenging Entrenched Ideas
Presented by Peter Middleton and David Cleaver

The workshop is for community safety practitioners and volunteers. In particular, those working in the community development, engagement and education space. The workshop aims to share learnings and develop greater experience of taking a ‘bottom up’ community development approach in working with communities to build prevention, preparedness and response across all hazards. The process will involve a scenarios approach working with a series of pre-defined communities, to move from a traditional top down approach to a bottom up community development approach. This will allow the exploration of building capacity from informed and aware to engaged and prepared, with a trend towards the thinking of an ‘asset based’ development approach. The workshop will also explore a series of tips and tools that can assist with a community development approach in emergency management.  Outcomes include;

  • Know what a community development approach is about
  • Learning and understanding different audiences
  • Identifying and working with diverse social capital and community needs
  • Recognising that we can’t take a one size fits all approach in working with communities
  • Processes for trialling and evaluating innovative ideas


Planning together
Presented by Neil Dufty

Personnel from emergency service organisations, will receive a short introduction on community participation in emergency planning including case studies from communities throughout Australia.
In small groups, participants will then be involved in practise and review a range of appropriate engagement methods including participatory mapping, social media use, problem-solving, scenario planning and oral histories. In the de-brief, participants will reflect on and share learnings, and potential use in their organisation.
This process allows the participant to experience a range of engagement methods that could be used to enable community participation in emergency planning, and identify and discuss opportunities and challenges for emergency service organisations and communities in using these methods. Outcomes include;
• Appreciation of the need for community participation in emergency planning
• Understanding of aspects of emergency planning that are conducive to community participation
• Skills to implement several appropriate engagement methods
• Appreciation of the emergency agency ‘culture’ conducive to community participation

Identifying risks
Presented by Dr Yoko Akama

This session will allow participants to experience the use of playful triggers to support disaster resilience in the community. Dr Yoko Akama provides the fascinating background to her research on ‘using social networks’ and ‘strengthening community resilience’ by using playful triggers to facilitate conversations that promote the sharing of ‘invisible knowledge’. This ‘serious play has many applications in disaster management.
This session targets emergency workers who engage with the community to improve resilience through better understanding of their risks.
Participants will develop an understanding of how playful triggers can be used in the community and provide first-hand experience of the process. Participants will be given the information necessary to replicate this process in their own community, in addition to background on the studies that gave impetus to the technique.


Managing high stakes situations
Presented by Anne Leadebeater

Caught between the needs and priorities of those affected and the imperatives of politics, recovery agencies, donors and the media, how do we resist the overwhelming pressure to ‘do something… anything!’ in recovery, in favour of actually doing the right thing? And for that matter, how can we be sure what the ‘right thing’ is? This session will explore how planners, policy makers and practitioners can support a strategic approach to disaster recovery that sorts the urgent from the critical, with a view to avoiding the long trail of mistakes made about things we didn’t even know would be important.

Targeting those required to make decisions, or requiring decisions to be made in disaster recovery.

A session of critical thinking and shared experiences that will examine the rhythm and timing of disaster recovery and the many pressures and challenges faced by those working to support impacted communities. Outcomes will include practical strategies for improved stakeholder engagement and advocacy for a community-centered approach.

A combination of presentations and group work strategies will ensure we derive maximum benefit from the combined knowledge and experience of all participants.

Engaging children
Presented by Briony Towers, Susan Davie and Michelle Roberts

Participants will be introduced to various models and frameworks that guide child-centred emergency management. Next, they will explore the benefits and challenges of applying these models and frameworks in their own local area or jurisdiction. They will then design practical, context-sensitive strategies that can be readily applied at the local level.
The aim is to increase local capacity for child-centred emergency management across all phases of the disaster cycle – from mitigation and preparedness through to response and recovery. The workshop is targeted towards emergency management planners, community engagement practitioners, first responders, recovery officers and educators.
Participants will be able to incorporate practical, context-sensitive child-centred emergency management strategies into their own practice.

Meeting together
Presented by Tim Muirhead

This workshop will explore the skill of designing and facilitating community and/or interagency meetings that draw out the best of people; meetings in which participants can;
• Share their own views courageously and safely
• Genuinely hear the (often different) views of others
• Work together to find solutions or directions that are mutually beneficial
• Accept different outcomes, because they have understood the various perspectives that need to be balanced.

The workshop content will include:
• Understanding the ‘facilitation’ role
• Keys to effective meeting design – the five P’s (Purpose, People, Process, Place, Personal)
• Principals of effective facilitation
• The ‘human side’ of facilitation
• Facilitating for community cohesion
Participants are encouraged to bring their own experiences and dilemmas to the workshop. To ensure that we apply the ‘theory’ to real life.