It’s a people thing – introducing a written account of a stakeholder workshop August 16, 2012blythemclennanLeave a comment
Some months have passed since a wide range of stakeholders came together in a workshop at RMIT University in March to talk about shared responsibility and disaster resilience. The ideas and opinions voiced at that workshop have stayed with me and continue to shape how I think about the research I’m doing. In particular, the workshop helped me to see how crucial it is to examine connections between responsibility, control and agency. It also helped me to understand more deeply that sharing responsibility is also very much about sharing control. This is a theme that I want to explore in a presentation I’m giving at the AFAC/Bushfire CRC annual conference at the end of this month in Perth. I’m still preparing it now but a central point will be the need for public agencies to ‘make space for community’, or more accurately civil society, if a philosophy of sharing responsibility is really going to underpin the way we ‘do’ emergency management. This implies that significant change may lie ahead in the way that public agencies do some of their core business.
As Andrew Wilson (Manager Fire Knowledge and Learning, Fire Division at the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment) reminded us at the March workshop, ‘government’ and ‘community’ are abstract entities. It is not these abstract entities but people who ultimately share responsibility and control. Thus, at one level ‘making space for communities’ is really about the people who work in and around emergency management considering how they might personally embody a philosophy of sharing responsibility (and control) in their own practices, relationships and areas of influence. I count myself and other disaster management researchers amongst this group. Of course, structures and...