This paper presents an assessment of the status of natural disaster preparedness and emergency management (EM) arrangements, challenges and opportunities, as these relate to remote Indigenous communities with a particular focus on coastal and hinterland regions of monsoonal northern Australia. It is building on a seven-year collaborative intercultural socio-environmental and policy research undertaking directly involving remote community members, researchers and agency staff, that have focussed on investigating the EM challenges and aspirations as perceived by community members, and explored opportunities for effecting supportive and sustainable EM agency-community partnerships.
Whilst acknowledging the significant logistical and resourcing challenges associated with developing inclusive and foundational governance partnerships given the diversity of remote community contexts, the paper demonstrates that:
- The potential for cost-effective delivery of contracted EM services to many remote communities is already achievable through the geographically expansive network of existing Indigenous Ranger Groups.
- Such engagement can also serve as an instructive model for building economic capacity, enterprise and employment opportunity in remote communities where little currently exists. Researchers acknowledge further that such a vision will take time to realise.
- Positive regional examples of agency-community collaborations are already in train.