BUILDING COMMUNITY RESILIENCE IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD
Socially cohesive communities are more resilient communities in the face of adversity and crisis. Whether we are dealing with bushfires, floods, pandemics or terrorism, all the evidence shows that more connected communities are more resilient to, and recover more quickly from, all manner of adversity.
Adversity can bring out both the best and the worst in people. Unfortunately, there are fringe elements in our society who seek to exploit times of crisis to promote fear, hate, divisiveness and discord.
Alternatively, we see the best in people when communities come together across cultural and religious differences to help each other in times of need. These acts of solidarity both draw upon and strengthen our sense of community and social cohesion, and they are our most powerful response to hate and polarisation.
Established in 2015, the Multicultural NSW COMPACT (Community Partnership Action) Program was inspired by the way the people of New South Wales came together in the wake of the Martin Place siege in Sydney in December 2014.
The message from our community was clear: We stand united. We – all of us together – will not let extremists divide us.
Since then, COMPACT has operationalised the concept of community resilience by supporting an alliance of over 60 grassroots community organisations, peak charities and NGOs, private sector partners, schools, universities, government agencies and police.
In 2018, COMPACT was independently evaluated as a 'first of its kind' program that has made significant progress towards its objectives of building social cohesion and community resilience.
In 2019, the COMPACT Alliance mobilised to support local communities and young people impacted by the devastating terror attack on our neighbours and cousins in Christchurch, New Zealand.
In 2020, bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic have again tested our resilience as a community. The people of New South Wales have proven to be remarkably resilient. Yet we have seen extremist elements in our community seeking to incite hate and exploit the pandemic for ideological purposes.
New South Wales sets an example for the rest of the world as a peaceful and harmonious multicultural society. But we cannot take our social cohesion for granted. We live in an increasingly uncertain world, and we are buffeted by forces we cannot always control.
The task of strengthening community resilience and safeguarding social cohesion, now and into the future, will require a concerted effort across all sections of our society.
Our resilience in the face of hate and extremism can be measured by the way we respond to this threat as a unified, inclusive and democratic society. The better we respond, the better chance we have of breaking the cycle of hate and polarisation and preventing extremism in the longer term.
That is why our community and government partners have joined the COMPACT Alliance: together, we are standing up and standing united for our peaceful and harmonious way of life.
Joseph La Posta
Chief Executive Officer