Purpose – Contributing to the global dialogue on disaster risk reduction (DRR), the purpose of this paper is to address a key priority for the Post-2015 Framework for DRR (HFA2) by analysing initiatives used by one local government to increase local-level engagement in DRR. Design/methodology/approach – A review of literature from the multidisciplinary areas of communication, social and political theory examines the role that communication theory and practice can play in facilitating public participation to build community resilience. Building on these insights, the authors introduce a research methodology to examine modes of communication, the quality of dialogue and opportunities for “voice” and “listening” between decision makers and local-level stakeholders during DRR planning A qualitative, case study is undertaken with data sourced from observation, document analysis and interviews to provide insights into public engagement events, policies and procedures that enhance or impede local engagement in DRR. Findings – Communication between the DRR campaign team and publics are analysed according to the range of communication practices used and opportunities provided for dialogue between parties. Findings differentiate between public information, consultation and participation events. Factors that enable and conversely, constrain local-level engagement to build community resilience, and conditions associated with each factor, are identified. Research limitations/implications – A unique analytical framework adapted from the duel lenses of participatory communication and information flow models, is used to differentiate events using one-way information from those offering opportunities for dialogue and participation. The framework provides a method for DRR practitioners to plan and evaluate local-level engagement events to meet the communication needs of particular situations. Practical implications – The framework provides a method for DRR practitioners to plan and evaluate local-level engagement events to meet the communication needs of particular situations. Originality/value – Co-authored by an Australian academic and a member of Amadora’s campaign team, the paper is a combination of one city’s experience in developing strategies to build community resilience, analysed using communication, social and political theory. Findings have implications for standard command-and-control management systems and styles of leadership and crisis management. Results will assist practitioners’ advance their understanding of different ways that publics may be engaged to build community resilience.
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