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Creating effective economic and community recovery and resilience

A combination of economic recovery responses by government that complement market mechanisms for managing and mitigating risk can create more effective economic and community recovery and resilience.

Resilience may be described as the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems…to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience46. Community and economic resilience do not just describe the capacity to survive and deal with the consequences of an emergency, but also the ability to adapt and become more able to withstand a range of risks into the future. A strong underlying theme in disaster recovery literature is that the most effective recovery arrangements are those developed in a resilience framework, which has the objective of moving beyond relief and reconstruction, to incorporating local renewal and adaptation to the post-disaster environment and aspires to create stronger and more vibrant communities and economies:

Building resilience to disasters is recognised worldwide as a significant contributor to a country’s ability to anticipate and respond to events that significantly threaten and damage communities, economies and the environment. Resilience can be defined as the ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events.47

As part of a whole-of-nation resilience-based approach to disaster management, Victoria adopted the 2011 National Strategy for Disaster Resilience which identifies resilience as a shared responsibility. Government, communities, businesses, households, and individuals all share responsibility and have a role in preparing for, responding to and recovering from emergencies48. The sum of these roles is a disaster resilient community; however, these roles differ. Shared responsibility does not mean equal responsibility; there are some areas in which the State should assume greater responsibility49. For example, emergency services are more capable in assessing some risks to the community and assume a different level of responsibility in carrying out their role50.

Governments in Australia and around the world recognise the importance of local involvement and communities in emergency management, particularly in planning and mitigation:

Local knowledge on people, history, risks, vulnerability, operational requirements, infrastructure and services significantly enhances emergency preparation, response and recovery. Building community resilience requires collective action. Individuals must determine how to help themselves and each other in ways that best suit their circumstances. Governments can help greatly in bringing communities together. Support requirements will inevitably vary between communities. Government, emergency services organisations, essential services, local businesses and not-for-profit organisations must be ready to work with each community according to its needs.51

The role of government in providing information that can assist emergency management preparation and response, such as studies, maps and models that provide data regarding natural disaster risks, is particularly important:

Underpinning a disaster resilient community is knowledge and understanding of local disaster risks. We all share responsibility to understand these risks, and how they might affect us. ... By understanding the nature and extent of risks, we can seek to control their impacts and inform the way we prepare for and recover from them.52

The implication of evidence in support of economic and business recovery planning is that economic consequence management needs to be incorporated into the resilience framework from the outset of an event, with the objectives of:

  • business and industry activity being returned as early as possible
  • identification of all segments of the business community which may be affected
  • development of a shared vision for economic recovery as a key to long-term sustainability.

The evidence also suggests that an important part of effective economic recovery planning is the local involvement of business representatives, early and directly in the process. This can build on existing organisations and networks through the activation of available systems in the community. It can also identify opportunities for and encourage support of local trade and commerce, such as purchasing replacement goods and services via local businesses and tradespeople wherever practical. The early involvement of local business and industry can also develop a shared understanding of the prevailing economic conditions and, therefore, the most effective recovery responses.

The early involvement of local business and industry can also encourage all businesses, regardless of size, to have continuity plans.53 Crisis management planning for business is vital for building the capability of businesses to survive the immediate impact of an emergency or disaster, and particularly to recover and resume business operations as quickly as possible. Measures taken to mitigate the impacts of future disaster on business continuity …form the foundation for a community's long-term strategy to reduce disaster losses and break the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage in the next disaster. The planning process is as important as the plan itself. It creates a framework for risk-based decision making to reduce damages to lives, property, and the economy from future disasters.54

Finally, the development and implementation of a planned economic recovery and resilience strategy provides the opportunity for briefings and feedback sessions on the effectiveness and progress of the economic recovery program and the measurement of success based on indicators such as community support for the vision, creative solutions, sense of confidence and excitement about economic future. For government, this approach has additional value in terms of evaluating the effectiveness of economic recovery strategies and building an evidence base to inform future program improvements.


46 100 Resilient Cities – Urban resilience. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 05 May 2020].

47 Emergency Management Victoria, 2015. Emergency Management Strategic Action Plan. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 05 May 2020].

48 Emergency Management Victoria, 2015. Emergency Management Strategic Action Plan. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 05 May 2020].

49 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, 2010. Volume II: Fire Preparation – Response and Recovery. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 18 May 2020].

50 Council of Australian Governments, 2011. National Strategy for Disaster Resilience: Building the resilience of our nation to disasters. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 05 May 2020].

51 Government of Victoria, 2012. Victorian Emergency Management Reform December 2012; White paper. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 05 May 2020].

52 Council of Australian Governments, 2011. National Strategy for Disaster Resilience: Building the resilience of our nation to disasters. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 05 May 2020].

53 Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, August 2011. Safeguarding your economy from disaster: Community Economic Recovery Guidebook. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 05 May 2020].

54 WEM, 2010 ( Quoted in Post-disaster Economic Recovery Strategy for East Central Wisconsin, East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, 30 July 2010.