This study builds on natural hazards behavior, community development, participatory, and codesign research to understand current community engagement approaches in an Australian context. Key principles for engaging communities were operationalized from document analysis and interviews with 30 community engagement practitioners from 25 Australian emergency management agencies. A thematic analysis of the agency documents and interviews led to a visualization of the pathway to community-led preparedness with the iterative community-centered engagement model for preparedness.
The model maps a pathway through different levels of community engagement toward the ultimate aim of a community-led approach to natural hazards preparation. It recognizes the changing circumstances and the situation of communities within their environment, and the barriers and enablers to support community-led preparedness. Natural hazard preparation by communities reduces disaster-induced physical health problems and adverse experiences, lowers potential for post-traumatic stress disorders, and aids faster recovery. However, approaches to community engagement for preparedness vary widely leaving those responsible confused and often overwhelmed.