Hawkesbury Resilience Project: Learn, Prevent, Prepare: Community Action for a Resilient Hawkesbury

A key project of RCE Greater Western Sydney, the Hawkesbury Resilience Project engaged and empowered residents to act on climate change. Residents of the Hawkesbury are not only experiencing and responding to acute incidents such as fires, floods, and heatwaves, but are experiencing the many social and ecological flow-on effects.

The design of the project was purposefully constructed to achieve the fundamental pillars of resilience: connection, empowerment, and contribution. Using a place-based approach, the RCE engaged with residents across the local government area to educate and enable grassroots groups and residents to form connections with each other and take action to adapt to a changing climate. They did this through: storytelling with residents, sharing their experiences in public forums; through heartfelt and deep conversations with their climate training volunteers, at their village-level workshops, and their regional forums; and through a virtual platform of resources and artefacts.

RCE Greater Western Sydney found through this project that Hawkesbury residents are deeply connected to place, concerned about climate and its ongoing impact, and that by engaging at a personal level with the right information, residents indicated they were willing to act.

The primary outcomes were:

  1. General increase in climate literacy across the Hawkesbury community through the creation of a virtual platform of resources, virtual advertising and social media, community workshops and regional forums, and the devolved seed funding mechanism.
  2. Training climate conversation volunteers, who have gained skills and confidence in having constructive conversations about climate change (the trainer guide is available on the website).
  3. Supporting new climate adaptation projects through devolved seed funding to local Hawkesbury-based groups to respond effectively to climate change impacts.
  4. Increasing new activities and groups around climate action through their 'Stories of Resilience' sub-project as a peer-to-peer way of communicating climate responses. (Five local stories are available on the website)

The project has received further funding from the Hawkesbury City Council Resilient Hawkesbury Grants scheme to publish a collection of resilience stories from local communities impacted by the 19/20 bushfires that describes how they experience and cope with natural disasters. It is hoped by sharing personal stories of resilience, the aim is to reveal common circumstances, offer practical ideas, inspire collective action, and provide cause for hope within the Hawkesbury community.

The Hawkesbury Resilience Project was led by Western Sydney University (Sustainability Education) in partnership with RCE Greater Western Sydney members Hawkesbury City Council, Hawkesbury Environment Network, Penrith-Hawkesbury Environmental Educators Network and Macquarie Electorate Student Climate Activists. The Hawkesbury Resilience Project was funded by an AdaptNSW Community Grant from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to run this project.

Learn more about this project here.