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What is our role in community recovery?

When a significant emergency occurs in an area, it is the people who make up that community who are the hardest hit. From the roof over their heads, to access to essential medical services, to the schools their children attend, to their jobs – the basic functions of everyday life can be severely impacted.

It is important to support an approach to community recovery that gives communities greater opportunity to be involved in decisions and processes that contribute to reshaping and rebuilding their lives in ways that work for them. This approach also allows for greater social cohesion and the possibility that through rallying together in times of crises communities can emerge stronger, and more connected, community-minded and resilient.

Community recovery is open-ended and not pre-determined, which means ideas are considered and agreed collectively by the community, and activities and priorities are adapted and refined as required.

Emergency Recovery Victoria (ERV) recognises that councils are best placed to understand the unique context of their communities and provide for their needs. Our role is to support councils in leading local recovery efforts, and to bring together government agencies, organisations and the philanthropic sector to meet the emerging and long-term recovery needs of communities.

Ensuring community recovery is front and centre of recovery activities

Emergency Recovery Victoria (ERV) has adapted the Victorian Government’s approach to ensure community recovery is front and centre of recovery activities as outlined below.

Community-centred recovery:

  • participation from the community, ensuring those affected by a disaster make decisions about their own recovery.
  • consider the values, culture and priorities of all affected communities.
  • use and develop the community’s strengths, leadership and existing networks and structures.
  • recognise communities might choose different paths to recovery and ensure policies, plans and services are flexible and adaptable to support this.
  • build strong partnerships between communities and those involved in the recovery process.

Local councils, Australian Government agencies, non-government organisations and charities all have important roles in giving life to the principle of community recovery and ERV works collaboratively with each.

Recovery is not exclusive to the geography of an impacted area. In some cases, an emergency may cause significant displacement of people and subsequent movement of people across the state. This means the people who need support may not be located in the specific region of the emergency.


ERV’s recovery principles underpin its approach to community recovery. These principles support flexible, locally-driven and locally delivered action and can be applied to deal with complex issues and support needs as required.

The National Principles for Disaster Recovery provide 6 of the 8 guiding principles for the framework positioning individuals and communities at the centre of recovery. ERV has included 2 additional principles in the recovery framework:

  • strengthening communities
  • inclusiveness

informed by the Queensland Betterment Program and the National Disaster Recovery Framework principles adopted by the United States.

ERV also recognises that successful recovery relies on government enabling self-determination to support effective and culturally appropriate responses for Aboriginal Victorian communities affected by bushfires or other disasters. ERV will work with Aboriginal Victorian communities to ensure its recovery activities are underpinned by self-determination.

Recovery principles

Understand the context

Successful recovery is based on understanding the community context – the unique history, values and dynamics of a community.

Communicate effectively 

Successful recovery is built on effective communication between the affected community and other partners.

Strengthen communities

Successful recovery should leave communities stronger by reducing vulnerabilities and building resilience.

Ensure an inclusive approach 

Successful recovery recognises that communities are made of many groups and ensures that actions, both intentional and unintentional, do not exclude groups of people.

Recognise complexity 

Successful recovery responds to the complex and dynamic nature of disasters and the community.

Recognise and build capacity 

Successful recovery recognises, supports and builds on individual, community and organisational capacity and resilience.

Use community-led approaches 

Successful recovery is community centred, responsive and flexible, and it relies on community engagement to support them to move forward.

Coordinate all activities 

Successful recovery requires a planned, coordinated and adaptative approach between community and partner agencies, based on continuing assessment of impacts and needs.