CFA Community Development is committed to building and strengthening partnerships between all
stakeholders in community safety, including other CFA directorates and departments, local governments and a diverse range of community networks and community groups. Partnerships are essential to community development, as they enable people from diverse backgrounds to reach a shared understanding of the issues, a shared vision of the outcomes and ultimately a shared responsibility of the problem.
The community development process supports an inclusive ethos and endeavours to develop the skills and understanding needed to engage with a diverse range of communities. Community development relies on an appreciation that there is not one Victorian community and that people belong and are committed to a variety of communities, based on shared interests and social, cultural and functional characteristics.
Community development programs are based on participation and empowerment, recognising that the only strategies that people will understand and use in emergencies are those they develop themselves in accordance with their particular needs and the needs of their families. Community development programs build the capacity of the community by enhancing the knowledge and skills of individuals so they can develop sound strategies and the appropriate resources to implement them. Community development programs provide the framework for interaction with high-risk communities, empowering individuals and families to plan for their own safety by providing them with knowledge, skills and local social support structures, and thereby build the capacity of communities to change behaviour and accept responsibility.
Community development relies on community participation as a resource, and values the contribution of local knowledge and expertise in identifying and implementing community safety treatments. It is recognised that traditional information – action models are not effective when dealing with the complex behaviour change needed to ensure that residents are prepared for emergencies such as wildfire.
Community development is a CFA core responsibility, supporting two of CFA’s five major corporate objectives:
- Preventative measures in place and communities of people who are aware of the risks and behave appropriately
- Support and increase partnerships between CFA and the community.
CFA Community Development objectives strive to:
- Empower communities to work towards self-reliance
- Create partnerships, which develop trust, respect and social networks
- Build community preparedness to prevent loss of life and property
- Build the capacity of the community by enhancing the knowledge and skills of individuals
- Engage with a broad range of communities and develop strategies that reflect community diversity
- Develop flexible and interactive programs based on participation, engagement and empowerment
- Deliver quality programs based on accurate and substantiated information and the principles of risk management
- Maintain a commitment to strategic management supported by a rigorous research and evaluation program.
The strategic direction for CFA Community Development is a statement of the vision, philosophy and processes underpinning CFA’s approach to creating a safer Victoria, through the development of building self-reliant communities who are able to recognise and understand risk and are prepared to protect themselves and their property from the threat of fire across a range of risk environments.
Community Safety’s Community Development team have adopted the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Core Values.
As an international leader in public participation, IAP2 has developed the “IAP2 Core Values for Public Participation” for use in the development and implementation of public participation processes. These core values were developed over a two year period with broad international input to identify those aspects of public participation which cross national, cultural, and religious boundaries. The purpose of these core values is to help organisations, decision makers and practitioners make better decisions which reflect the interests and concerns of potentially affected people and entities.
- The public should have a say in decisions about actions that could affect their lives.
- Public participation includes the promise that the public’s contribution will influence the decision.
- Public participation promotes sustainable decisions by recognizing and communicating the needs and interests of all participants, including decision makers.
- Public participation seeks out and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision.
- Public participation seeks input from participants in designing how they participate.
- Public participation provides participants with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way.
- Public participation communicates to participants how their input affected the decision.