The Australian Institute of Disaster Resilience (AIDR) defines disaster resilience as “the capacity of communities to prepare for, absorb and recover from natural hazard events, and the capacities of communities to learn, adapt and transform towards resilience.”

Furthermore, the AIDR highlights that there are three aspects common to many definitions of disaster resilience:

  1. the ability to absorb or accommodate the effects of an external disturbance or stressor event
  2. the ability to recover and return to a functioning state or to persist following an event
  3. the capacity to learn, adapt or transform

These points are important to keep in mind, especially for disasters that may not be related to natural hazard events.

Lynette Anderson from Capricorn Communities for Children, rightly points out that disasters come in all shapes and sizes.

“People tend to think of the cyclones and the fires and everything else, but I think back to a time where a small organisation lost all of its data. Everything was gone and couldn’t be recovered. That is a disaster.”

Resilience maturity, as an executive level strategy, goes beyond the operational response to a disaster and tackles how an organisation can adapt, learn and grow during periods of disaster management to increase their effectiveness and position.

Organisations that have developed and implemented resilience maturity strategies as part of their business-as-usual suite of strategies are able to bounce forward from a disruptive event to find themselves in a stronger position than before that event occurred.

What is the Community Services Disaster Resilience Maturity project?

Jointly funded by Commonwealth and Queensland governments, the Community Services Disaster Resilience Maturity project aims to provide the community services industry the tools needed to assess their organisational resilience and plan their approach to continuous improvement.

The project aims to raise awareness of organisational resilience in times of disaster and support local connections around disaster resilience and emergency response. It will be delivered across the period 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2024.

Partnering with other agencies to help deliver the project and support regional organisations is key to its success. In the Central Queensland region, for example, these partners include Catholic Care Central Queensland and the Capricorn Community Development Association.

Carmel Marshall from Catholic Care thinks this model is crucial for supporting smaller organisations in particular.

“Bringing those organisations together and walking alongside them, and getting them to walk alongside each other as well. It helps build an organic network. They know that there are other people grappling with the same stuff that they’re grappling with. And they might not have access to everything they need inside their organisation but doing this kind of engagement does help people to see that they’ve got parts of the system that they can reach out to and support each other.”

Disaster Resilience Maturity project


Tools to assist in developing disaster resilience maturity

CSIA partnered with organisations in six key regional areas to develop an online scorecard and resources that could empower senior leadership and boards across community services organisations to understand and grow their resilience maturity.

The Community Services Disaster Resilience Maturity Scorecard – developed after extensive research and deep engagement with community service organisations, the Scorecard is an internal research mechanism for gathering the data you need to know where (and how) to prioritise your strategic resilience building efforts.  It also provides the data, when used year-on-year, to track how much progress has been made by your organisation. The best part is it is free, quick and simple to use.

The playbook – a resource library of case studies, templates, reports, research and more. This will continue to evolve and expand providing you with the most up to date and relevant industry resources to strengthen your organisations resilience maturity.

Dan Smith from The Smith Family’s Capricorn Communities for Children program sees the real value of these resources, particularly after the last five years where there have been floods, fires, cyclones and COVID-19 impacting the community.

“Part of our conversations with our community partners around service delivery and being flexible is how they can adapt and pivot. There are learnings there for everybody and I think having had those experience of recent times, it’s a good opportunity to actually unpack that and the tool could be a good mechanism to do it in a logical way.”

Read more about the Disaster Resilience Maturity project