The New South Wales (NSW) Rural Support Program is an essential tool for providing support and guidance to rural communities during the hardships of natural disasters such as droughts, fires and floods.
They engaged GWI to further develop their understanding of how rural communities planned, prepared, responded to, and recovered from natural disasters to improve and enhance their service delivery and strengthen community relationships.
The experts at GWI conducted a social network analysis-based project to examine formal and informal relationships between the NSW Rural Support Program, community members, media and other groups. The approach provides a visual map alongside aggregated data and this is analysed to develop in-depth insight into a social or organisational network.
Through the project it was possible to identify the organisations and groups that were most trusted to contribute to the resilience of the community, and those that were perceived to provide the best levels of support. The GWI team found that the memory of previous disaster events continued to have a significant impact on members of the community. Our engagement also revealed that traditional media (the local newspaper, radio and television broadcasts) were overwhelmingly the preferred means of receiving information and advice.
With this information, the GWI team were able to make a set of compelling recommendations for improving service delivery by the NSW Rural Support Program. This has allowed the NSW Rural Support Program to strengthen community resilience and enabled them to provide more targeted, collaborative and effective support to threatened and vulnerable rural communities.