Cyclones, storms and monsoonal flooding are increasingly severe
Although monsoon forms a natural part of the northern Queensland climate, the effects of climate change have resulted in increasingly severe and erratic weather patterns (Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, 2018). In the past twenty years, communities in North and Far North Queensland Regions have experienced seventeen tropical cyclones and been impacted by severe storms and monsoonal flooding.
Whilst impacts of these disasters are widespread, research has shown some communities are particularly vulnerable during these disasters. For example, people with physical disabilities are at a significantly increased risk of dying during natural disasters (Quaill et al., 2019). Language barriers, social isolation and limited experience in previous local natural disasters can also increase the vulnerability of refugee and migrant populations to these events (Teo, Goonetilleke, Deilami, Ahankoob, & Lawie, 2019), and people experiencing homelessness are rarely considered in disaster planning or recovery – leaving them locked out of accessing resources that are provided to support recovery (Every, Richardson, & Osborn, 2019).
Neighbourhood Centres are often the first and last point of contact for individuals affected by monsoons
Centres in monsoon-affected areas tend to be experienced in responding to severe cyclones, storms and monsoonal flooding. Because centres are already embedded in communities prior to the monsoon event, they are often the first to respond with Emergency Relief for Queenslanders who have lost everything. Centres have shown their resourceful approach also makes them adaptive – allowing them to assist quickly when supply chains are cut to external services. Further, because Neighbourhood Centres are already engaged with vulnerable members of their community, they are well-positioned to help those most at risk to build upon existing strengths to increase their resilience and capacity in the face of disasters.
The Monsoon Resilience Strategy was developed to act as a tool to support Neighbourhood Centres to further their capacity to support their local communities through monsoon events, and as a research document, to capture and advocate for Neighbourhood Centres’ work in monsoon resilience.
The Monsoon Resilience Strategy
The project used a collaborative process grounded in participatory action research and community development principles. Over twenty-five neighbourhood centres from North Queensland Regions were involved in developing the strategy. At the time of writing, the project is in phase 5 – the continued implementation of the strategy.
The project phases included:
Phase 1: Neighbourhood Centre Monsoon Discussions
In phase one of the project, representatives of Neighbourhood and Community Centres across Far North and North regions of Queensland participated in the initial development of a Queensland Neighbourhood Centres Strategy for Monsoon Resilience, through phone conversations and combined online workshops.
Phase 2: Monsoon Resilience Survey
Surveys were undertaken with Neighbourhood Centres and Stakeholders. The purpose of this survey was to explore and highlight the key roles Neighbourhood and Community Centres play in monsoon resilience to demonstrate their unique functions and approaches in communities.
Phase 3: Strategy Publication and Launch
The Queensland Neighbourhood Centres Strategy for Monsoon Resilience was published in December 2020 and launched online with a presentation from collaborators and contributors.
Phase 4: Implementation of the Monsoon Resilience Strategy
After launching the strategy, Neighbourhood Centres identified priority areas to develop, which formed into an action plan to implement the Monsoon Resilience Strategy. Phase 1 implementation was undertaken between July 2020 to June 2021.
Watch a sample of the work done by The Hub in Mackay by video here.
View the Strategy Implementation (Stage 1) Project Achievements here.
Phase 5: Continued Implementation of the Monsoon Resilience Strategy
NCQ and Neighbourhood Centres continue to work on the implementation of the Monsoon Resilience Strategy, particularly in terms of seeking collaborative initiatives.
Monsoon Resilience Enquiries & Partnerships
Contributors and Authors
For their generous contribution of time and insights, NCQ would like to thank the representatives from Community Support Centre Innisfail, Cooktown District Community Centre, Dimbulah Community Centre, Douglas Shire Community Services, Kuranda Neighbourhood Centre, Mareeba Community Centre, Carpentaria Shire Welfare Services, NPA Family and Support Services, Port Douglas Community Services, Burdekin Community Association, Burdekin Neighbourhood Centre, Centacare North Queensland, Collinsville Community Association, North Townsville Community Hub, Hinchinbrook Community Support Centre, Prospect Community Services, Community Gro, Rollingstone and District Community Association, Whitsundays Neighbourhood Centre, Boulia Community Support Service, Cloncurry Community Support Service, Brilla Brilla Centre, Cloncurry Community Support Service, Mount Isa Family Support Service, The Neighbourhood Hub (Mackay), Winton Neighbourhood Centre, Hambledon House Community Centre and Tully Support Centre.
Mengting Lin with the support of QFCA staff members Natasha Odgers, Chris Mundy, Tobi Leggans and Em James.
The development and first implementation phase of the Qld Neighbourhood Centres Strategy for Monsoon Resilience was jointly funded under the Commonwealth/State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.