Communities First

Communities First logo updated.jpg

Preparing for emergencies through connection and partnership

Strong community and neighbourhood connections help people to manage better during and after emergencies. 

The Communities First team supports the Nillumbik community to lead projects and activities that build connection and help people to prepare for emergencies.

Nillumbik Shire has a history of emergencies, such as bushfires, floods and storms. These events will continue to increase and intensify due to climate change.

Find out more about Communities First below.

Who we are

The Communities First team sits within the Emergency Management Unit at Council and is responsible for:

  • Supporting community members with their ideas for strengthening community connection
  • Supporting community members and groups with their ideas for being better prepared, less impacted and better able to recover from emergencies
  • Building strong partnerships between Council, community members, emergency agencies and organisations for better collaboration before, during and after emergencies

How we work

The Communities First team uses a community development approach, which means the community lead and we support!

There are already so many great partnerships, resources and projects happening in communities throughout the Shire, it’s our role to support this work and build upon it.  

We also use a place-based approach, because each community and township has their own unique strengths, opportunities and assets and what works in one community may be different in another.

You’ll see our team working from different locations across the Shire so we can build relationships with community members and groups. This helps us get to know their history, values and ideas for building strong connected communities that can better manage during and after an emergency.   

Current projects

Community Emergency Planning

Come to a pop-up or a free workshop to chat with CFA, SES and Council about topics like:

  • How to be prepared for severe weather like floods, storms and bushfires
  • How climate change is affecting our communities and how we manage emergencies
  • Why community connection is so important in our day to day lives, and in navigating emergencies

For more information including dates and locations, visit the Community Emergency Planning. 

Disaster Resilient Nillumbik

This two-year project focuses on building the capacity of Nillumbik residents to prepare, respond and recover from disasters with particular focus on storm and heat events. Our team is working with Nillumbik communities to build on the strengths and assets already present and develop sustainable and impactful initiatives together. 

Project term: November 2022 to December 2024

Council received funding to deliver this project. Read about Grant funding to support ‘Disaster Resilient Nillumbik.

For more information and to get involved, contact our team.

Connected St Andrews

Supporting the St Andrews community to make St Andrews an even better place to live, through building connections, using local resources and skills to be better prepared for emergencies.

Find out about Connected St Andrews.

Past projects

Communities First Grants

Council offered funding to local community groups and organisations to deliver projects to help build vibrant and connected communities. Strong community and neighbourhood connections help people to manage better during and after emergencies.

We are happy to announce that the 2022-2023 grant program was able to support six community-led projects. 

Read about the successful Communities First grant recipients and their projects. 

Emergency Planning Drop-in Sessions

In 2022 we piloted a series of casual drop-in sessions throughout the Shire where people could grab a cuppa and chat with CFA and Council officers about planning for emergencies, such as storms, power outages, bushfires and heatwaves. 

2022 Place Shapers Program

This nine-week program saw seven community members from rural Nillumbik develop the skills, knowledge and connections to bring their community preparedness, connection and resilience project ideas to life.

Community Bushfire Preparedness and Resilience Grants

Established in 2021, grants have been available to local community groups and not-for-profit organisations to deliver projects that help communities to prepare for bushfires and bounce back from emergencies.

2022-2023 grants will open in November 2022 (these will be added to the 'Current projects' tab when available).

2021-2022 grant recipients: 

  • Arthurs Creek/Strathewen Fire Brigade - the volunteer firefighters from the Arthurs Creek/Strathewen Fire Brigade, leaders from three neighbouring brigades in Nillumbik and a neighbouring brigade from Whittlesea will participate in three sessions facilitated by a guest speaker covering the influences of topography and weather on bushfire behaviour (this project will be delivered in 2023)
  • Bushfire Resilience Inc. 2022 Webinar Series - the creation of recordings from the series of five free bushfire preparedness webinars for inclusion on

2020-2021 grant recipients:

  • Strathewen Bushfire Education Partnership - Strathewen Primary School students created a series of mini videos showing how a number of different measurement instruments are used
  • Arthurs Creek Bushfire Education Partnership - fire behaviour expert Jamie Mackenzie from Red Flag Leadership led the students on a bushwalk looking at the many aspects of fire behaviour
  • Bushfire Resilience Inc. 2021 Webinar Series - a series of five free webinars focused on the science of bushfire 

Emergency Preparedness Workshops

In October 2021, an online webinar was delivered by Council, CFA and DELWP to assist local NDIS providers to understand their responsibility to support their clients, people with disability, to prepare for emergencies. Dr Michelle Villeneuve introduced the Person-Centred Emergency Preparedness (P-CEP) Toolkit which was designed by and for people with disability. Download a copy of the P-CEP(PDF, 7MB) or find other great resources to help prepare your emergency plans.

In November 2021, an online Emergency Preparedness Workshop was delivered by Council, CFA and DELWP to support community members to understand the local bushfire risk and to start preparing their bushfire plans. 

Get in touch

We’d love to hear from you and explore your ideas for building connected communities that are better prepared for emergencies!

Contact the Communities First team on 9433 3111 or email

Nillumbik’s Communities First Program acknowledges the grant funding received through the Victorian Government Safer Together Program.

Both current and past projects delivered by the Communities First team have been made possible through grants received from the Victorian Government, Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) and the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR).