Visions of sharing responsibility for disaster resilience: sharing control

Strong normative statements have been made in key policy documents and public inquiries about the need to focus on a principle of ‘Shared Responsibility’ in Australian emergency management. However, these statements give very little guidance on what sharing responsibility might look like on the ground, leaving stakeholders wondering what this idea mean for the way they interact and what they are expected to achieve in this sector.

This paper analyses what the idea of ‘sharing responsibility’ means in the context of disaster resilience from the perspectives of stakeholders that participated in a workshop held in March 2012. The workshop brought together a wide range of stakeholders from across government, communities and NGOs, and research to discuss the idea and implications of ‘sharing responsibility for disaster resilience’.

Of six facets of responsibility highlighted in the literature that theorises responsibility in the context of risk, one stood out clearly in the stakeholders presentations at the workshop: agency/control. In particular, the need for public sector agencies to share control as well as responsibility with communities was emphasised.

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