Our story

Growing community resilience to current and future risk through research and conversations.

The CEDRR methodology was developed by Dr Brian Cook, who believes that community engagement should be about more than just giving people information or telling them what to do. Through his own partnerships with members of the risk sector, Brian learned that it takes real meaningful human interactions - like conversations, storytelling, and sharing experiences - to engage people in ways that could contribute to actions being taken to reduce household risk.

And the research agrees.

Brian also believes that conversations about risk reduction should go both ways - communities know best the risks that are impacting them.

After extensive experience in water resource management and flooding, Brian has concluded that participation must be embraced throughout the risk management process and by risk management agencies. It is not enough to engage communities after decisions about risk management have already been made.

The recognition of this need has prompted Brian to become an unapologetic advocate for community empowerment as a pragmatic response to the long-standing ineffectiveness of top-down, expert-driven forms of participation.

CEDRR originated as a collaborative project between researchers from the University of Melbourne and the Victoria State Emergency Services (VicSES), the Red Cross, and the Melbourne Fire Brigade, with support from Melbourne Water, VicSES providing financial and in-kind support to early case studies, and the Australian Red Cross providing in-kind support.

Three in-person CEDRR case studies have been conducted across Victoria: in Kensington (City of Melbourne); Whittlesea Local Government Area; and Kialla (City of Greater Shepparton).

A fourth pilot study was adapted for virtual engagements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which found that meaningful community engagement can be conducted online.

We are now beginning a 5 year project that aims to better understand perceptions and preparedness for flood risk. Through this project we aim to have 4,500 conversations in communities across Victoria as well as 4,500 follow-up engagements to continue to build relationships with community members and to learn from their perceptions and practices.

If you live in a flood prone area of Victoria we’d love to hear your opinions or hear about your experiences. Please sign up to get involved in our project.

Our Method