In November I was asked to chat to council communicators for a Municipal Association of Victoria sponsored forum about social media and communication in emergencies. It was a pleasure to wear two hats, in my former role leading emergency management communications and working as a senior officer with a busy metropolitan council.

Councils are closest to community, and council communicators and engagement staff know their stuff. While emergencies are often far from their minds in an every day sense, they play such an integral role before, during and after.

The differences in geographic locations and risks across Victoria can be fast. But some of the challenges are the same; engaging busy communities, or really diverse communities, understanding their own responsibilities and where to get information, stretched resourcing, and how to work within an emergency management sector that to some came across like a private club and a language all of its own.

Even as they spoke about their own circumstances and experiences, I was taking notes for myself.

And in sharing my own experiences coordinating and leading communication planning before, during and after some of Victoria’s major emergencies in the past ten years I learned even more about what Council’s offer, their challenges and their focus – which is their communities.

Thanks to Deakin’s Ross Mongahan and Mav’s Debbie Jones for the opportunity to both share, and to learn.

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