A new partnership between Monash University, the Paul Ramsay Foundation and Metal Manufactures Limited will harness the power of community leadership and action in bushfire-affected communities, by developing novel approaches to strengthen community resilience.

The partnership will work closely with those communities severely affected by the 2019/2020 summer bushfires, paving new ways for a community-led approach to disaster recovery to be developed, tested and refined. It will build an evidence base to demonstrate what can be achieved when communities are not just recipients of recovery funds, but are supported to lead their own recovery and resilience-building. The program will connect with government, agencies and other stakeholders, and provide mechanisms for shared learning and coordinated action.

The collaboration reflects the partners’ shared ambition to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people experiencing disadvantage.

The Paul Ramsay Foundation’s Chief Programs Officer Dr Jeni Whalan said that it takes convening, activating and aligning partners across government, higher education, community and philanthropic sectors to solve Australia’s biggest social challenges.

“At the Paul Ramsay Foundation, partnerships with mission-driven organisations are the way for us to achieve long-lasting change in breaking the cycles of disadvantage. We see this approach working time and again and have more than 90 partnerships with organisations developing new approaches to disrupting disadvantage to achieve lasting change.

“We are excited about the ambition of this program. It is clear that an evidence-informed approach to supporting community-led recovery is needed. We are committed to growing this partnership and helping communities use disaster recovery to build pathways out of disadvantage and realise their own vision for a resilient and thriving future,” Dr Whalan said.

The Bushfire Resilience Program combines the Paul Ramsay Foundation’s core mission of disrupting cycles of disadvantage with Monash’s multidisciplinary expertise across the social, economic, institutional and environmental systems that influence resilience.

Monash University Senior Vice-Provost and Vice-Provost (Research) Professor Rebekah Brown said:
“After the devastation of the Black Summer fires, a new paradigm for disaster preparedness and recovery is emerging. While there is recognition that communities need to be at the heart of disaster recovery, there is limited guidance on how to do this. Through this project, we will build this much needed evidence base, at scale, with a new approach for undertaking disaster resilience building that puts communities at the centre.

“This program harnesses the strengths and expertise of the University to solve problems that matter, and reflects Monash’s commitment to make global lasting change.”

This Monash University-led consortium also includes the Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) as a foundation partner. TACSI are practice-based social innovation experts who bring a human-centred approach to working with communities to solve complex problems such as generational disadvantage.

Cornerstone funding for the Bushfire Resilience Program is from the Paul Ramsay Foundation and Metal Manufactures Limited, with an additional $16 million of in-kind support from Monash University. The program will work with communities from 2021 over five years.

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Pia Akerman
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