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Welcome to the Community Sector Disaster Capability page. To learn more about the Project, click on the links below:

What is the Community Sector Disaster Capability Project?

How will the Project Help?

Project Guiding Principles

Local Host Services

What is Disaster Risk Reduction?

Disaster Capability Learning Space

Contact us

What is the Community Sector Disaster Capability Project?

NCOSS, in partnership with the the Local Community Services Association and AbSec, has been funded to deliver the Community Sector Disaster Capability project to promote and facilitate the role of local community services organisations in supporting communities to reduce disaster risk.

Through the Project, local service organisations in three locations are being supported to strengthen connections with local disaster agencies and systems, and build capacity to reduce the impacts of disasters, particularly on vulnerable communities and community members.

The Project aims to build a collaborative, networked approach to local disaster management, providing an opportunity for local community organisations, and the communities they support, to bring their expert knowledge and connections into play. It will develop their capacity to identify, assess and mitigate risks as well as strengthen ongoing interactions and exchange with formal disaster management systems.

The Project is being delivered in three locations – the Hawkesbury, Northern Rivers and the South Coast – and will be completed in June 2024.

We are engaging a place-based NGO in each location to lead local engagement and develop local approaches and activities to build local disaster capability.

Funded under the joint Australian Government – NSW Government National Partnership Agreement on Disaster Risk Reduction, through the Local and Regional Stream of the Disaster Risk Reduction Fund.


How will the Project help?

The Project will develop and implement approaches, activities and resources to strengthen organisational and community disaster risk reduction capability, and leverage local disaster management expertise to reduce the impacts of disaster, particularly on those most vulnerable.

Objectives include:

  • Increasing awareness of the nature and extent of disadvantage and vulnerability in the community, and the role of community service organisations in reducing disaster risk for relevant population groups and locations.
  • Equipping local community service organisations with tools, resources, training and access to expertise to support vulnerable population groups to reduce risk.
  • Building ongoing relationships between the social services sector and government/non-government disaster management agencies, to further understanding and inclusion of the strengths and needs of vulnerable population groups in relevant processes from the outset, in particular risk reduction.

See the Community Sector Disaster Capability Project Overview document for more details.

Project Guiding Principles

  • Meaningful, ongoing disaster risk reduction outcomes require coordinated and collaborative effort between the community, non-government and government initiatives.
  • Centring community voice and strengths is integral to effective disaster risk reduction.
  • Place-based community services organisations provide an integral linking role between communities - especially vulnerable populations - and government and non-local services. This is a critical tool for community disaster risk reduction.
  • The capabilities of place-based community services organisations should be reinforced wherever possible.

Local Host Services

The local Project Host services for the Community Sector Disaster Capability (CSDC) Project provide essential place-based perspective and knowledge. All the local Project Hosts are working in partnership with other place-based NGOs and have project activities planned or underway.

  • In the Hawkesbury, Peppercorn Services is a well-known and respected community service provider, operating for the last 22 years. Along with other local NGOs, Peppercorn has been active in the ongoing recovery after the floods of recent years.  
  • In the NSW Northern Rivers, Resilient Lismore has been at the forefront of coordinating community-led disaster recovery since 2017. They have worked closely with local communities who have been impacted by the 2022 disaster, as well as the wide range of organisations actively working in disaster recovery in the region.
  • In Snowy Monaro, Monaro Family Support Service (MFSS) has been delivering early intervention and intensive support to individuals and families who may be vulnerable or experiencing adversity for almost 50 years. MFSS has been working with communities and other local NGOs to increase disaster resilience after the Black Summer Bushfires.
  • In the Eurobodalla and Bega regions Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health and Community Services provides wraparound care, advocacy and access to support services. Katungul was integral in providing rapid emergency support during COVID lockdowns and have supported the Black Summer Bushfires recovery.

What is Disaster Risk Reduction?

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is the work we do before a hazard event (e.g. flood, fire, storm, earthquake etc) occurs, to reduce the impact.

We know from recent experience that certain communities and population groups are more vulnerable and most impacted when disasters strike. These include low-income renters, people who are homeless, First Nations peoples, people with a disability, older people and those who are frail or socially isolated.

And during and after disasters, it is often known and trusted local organisations that people turn to for support.

But recent events in NSW have shown that the critical role of community services in supporting vulnerable groups is often overlooked in disaster management. Particularly in the early stages when coordination and preventative action can be taken to reduce risks and ensure the wellbeing and safety of those most at risk.

Disaster Capability Learning Space

To reduce disaster risk, we first need to understand our local risks, vulnerabilities and capability and then take coordinated action. Here are research, resources and approaches to help you define your organisation's roles in reducing disaster risk.

The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience Disaster Risk Reduction resources

The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience provides resources and reports to assist in understanding disaster risk:

Systemic Disaster Risk Handbook - the Handbook provides principles for systemic disaster risk reduction, inclusive governance and decision-making to support resilience and sustainability.

Major Incidents Report - this yearly report provides an overview of major incidents that have involved the fire and emergency services sector.

Australia’s Riskscape  provides a snapshot of systemic disaster risks across Australia in 2022–23.

The Major Incidents Report 2022-23 and Australia's Riskscape Report Showcase webinar is now available to watch online.

Building Resilience for Emergency Responses

Community services organisations already provide support to their communities throughout disaster response, recovery, preparedness and disaster risk reduction. Find out more from the Building Resilience for Emergency Responses podcasts and case studies.

Community Resilience, Wellbeing and Recovery Project Resources

NCOSS, the Mental Health Commission of NSW and University of Canberra have developed these resources to enable local social sector organisations, to be a key part of community-led disaster recovery, and how to enable non-local organisations, such as government agencies and large NGOs to support them.

Community Sector Involvement in Disaster Management

The report Community Sector Involvement in Disaster Management has been published by Southern Cross University, highlighting the critical role NGO services played in the Northern Rivers floods and the need for greater community sector involvement in disaster preparedness and planning.

The research was undertaken in collaboration with NCOSS and place-based services active in the Northern Rivers flood response and recovery.

The Report is available free to download and share through Creative Commons. Donnarumma, S., Doyle, K., & Russ, E. (2023). Community sector involvement in disaster management. Lismore, Southern Cross University.

A Human Rights Based Approach in Disaster Responses

This session explored a framework for applying a rights-based approach in disaster risk reduction and capability-building.

Access the recording and resources on the NCOSS Events page.

Information to support your community through current disasters:

NCOSS Flood Resources webpage

NCOSS Heat Resources webpage

Find out more about the Community Sector Disaster Capability Project

Contact the team:

Megan Nicholson, Program Director, E

Eleanor Harris, Senior Program Officer, M 0456 190 546 E