Are we ready to begin sharing responsibility?

Last week C2C submitted an abstract to present at the upcoming Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) Conference suggesting it’s now time to evolve from ‘shared responsibility’ to ‘sharing responsibility’.

Granted it was focused on the contribution that could come from the business community, but it got me thinking…

What is holding us back in the disaster resilience sector from sharing responsibility between stakeholders?

For the past ten years the notion of ‘shared responsibility’ has been present in the disaster resilience sector. The 2011 National Strategy for Disaster Resilience highlighted the need for “increased responsibility for all”.

But have we increased responsibility outside of those traditionally in the sector? Why not, and do we even know how to share it?

Here are my thoughts:


1: Sharing responsibility starts with understanding who’s out there

I can’t see how you can begin sharing responsibility when it comes to building disaster resilience without knowing what stakeholder groups are out there.

And I’m not just referring to the traditional, safe peers within your network that you can call with the touch of a button.  No, I’m referring to those wonderful groups of stakeholders that you have likely never encountered before.

As stated in many, many disaster resilience documents, policies and frameworks that I’ve read over the years – we all have a role to play in building disaster resilience.

So as a first step towards evolving the sector towards sharing responsibility – let’s commit to mapping out all the stakeholders who could and should be part of the outcome.

Don’t know where to start?  We help governments, businesses and communities identify the “who” in the good times as well as the bad!


2: Next comes building trust and respect through engagement

Without doubt I think engagement is an underutilised word – and more importantly it’s an underutilised action in the world of disaster resilience.

When I refer to engagement I’m not meaning to communicate.  No, engagement is so much more with such positive opportunities and benefits.

Don’t get me wrong, engagement can at times be difficult and will require you to move out of your comfort zone. But we cannot build disaster resilience if we all sit in silos and try to do it alone.

Granted I spend 99% of my days engaging with multi-stakeholders across the disaster resilience sector, but I can’t begin to tell you how rewarding and beneficial it is when you effectively engage internally and externally.

Here are some tricks to good engagement.

Firstly, it’s not an “I sent an email and they didn’t respond” kind of relationship building.  No, engagement requires you to listen, ask, have empathy and patience.

There are many forms of engagement.

As an IAP2 certified practitioner I always base any strategic engagement approach or outreach on the well-known IAP2 Public Participation Spectrum. The Spectrum is a good foundation to help you determine what type of engagement you can (and should) activate.

Effective engagement builds trusted relationships.

If we are serious about moving towards sharing responsibilities, trust will play a major role in how and if collaborative outcomes are achieved.  Reach out if you need help to build trust through engagement or to facilitate an upcoming multi-stakeholder event.


3: Every decision has consequences to often unknown stakeholders

I could probably just stop it there.

Particularly in the disaster space, decisions around what takes place before, during and/or after an impact from a natural or unnatural disaster have consequences.

Consequences from disaster resilience decisions can have positive or negative outcomes for others.

So when you’re mapping your stakeholders and implementing your engagement approaches, put yourself in the shoes of others who may be impacted too.

We often work in silos in the disaster resilience sector.

But if we are to evolve to sharing responsibility, we need to build a culture considerate to the direct and indirect impacts on others.

There has been ample examples in 2021 alone where decisions have had major consequences to lives and livelihoods.

So think bigger and go wider when it comes to the impacts of your decisions, policies, frameworks or programs and engage those who may be impacted as much as you can.

And sometimes you just need a bit of help. Have a read of our Consequence Stakeholder Mapping solution.


4: Put Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No 17 at the forefront

At corporate2community we are actively committed to supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While they are all important, it’s Number 17 that we focus on the most.

Partnerships to achieve the Goals.

I often say it could be the most important of the goals because if we do not work in partnership then how will other goals be achieved?

Sharing responsibility requires us to work in collaboration, often.

This will require building new and strengthening existing partnerships to build a culture of collective resilience.

There are many ways to form and nurture partnerships to build resilience such as: co-funding for projects, sharing information between stakeholder groups, co-designing outcomes for systemic issues.

Perhaps most importantly given the current situation of bushfires and pandemics, there is an immediate opportunity (and need) to build resilience capabilities across and between stakeholder groups – like what’s being achieved by C2C’s Resilient Australia Alliance.


I guess the final question to ask is – whose role is it to lead ‘sharing responsibility’?… Perhaps that’s for a future blog!


About‌ ‌Renae:‌ ‌

Renae Hanvin is the founder of corporate2community including the Resilient Australia Alliance, a social enterprise committed to building disaster resilience. Most known for ‘Doing Disasters Differently’, Renae leads a collective of local and international experts providing solutions to businesses, communities and governments – before, during and after natural and unnatural disasters.

‌‌ ‌ ‌

View more posts