Resilience of individuals is a well established and useful concept in the psychology and mental health literatures but has been little explored in relation to communities. Related areas of theory in the community development and social impact assessment literature, however, provide insight into the qualities and assets of communities that enable them to develop effectively or to adapt to major changes. This paper reports the components of community and individual resilience identified through a participatory action research study with a community in rural Australia. Stanthorpe, in southeast Queensland, is in a temperate fruit growing area, and at the time of study had recovered from severe fires and hailstorms.
The community identified individual and community resilience as deriving from Social Networks and Support; a Positive Outlook; Learning; Early Experiences; Environment and Lifestyle; lnfrastructure and Support Services; Sense of Purpose; a Diverse and lnnovative Economy; Embracing Differences; Beliefs, and Leadership. lt then presents a systems model showing relationships between these resilience-building factors, and interactions between individuals, community, environment and economy in the process of building resilience. The findings are consistent with social factors identified previously but extend these by recognising environmental and economic factors, infrastructure and support services, as enhancing resilience. The research culminated in development of a toolkit designed to assist this and other communities to enhance their resilience.