Is Your Rural Lifestyle Block Ready?

A participatory workshop series on climate risk impacts

Is Your Rural Lifestyle Block Ready?

A participatory workshop series on climate risk impacts

Community Participation -


The issue

Landholders on larger properties with a commercial focus are beginning to identify and address climate change risk. Peri-urban property owners often have a higher proportion of off-farm income, and less focus on property management issues that could reduce such risks. We know, however that people on rural residential properties are doing things worth sharing. But is that sharing happening effectively?

The solution

Collective insight and learning evolves when we provide space to explore questions that matter. Our goal was to build capacity through sharing personal experiences within and across local community hubs. This way, we could identify commonalities and differences, and develop more detailed and area specific scenarios for responding to potential impacts.

We hosted a series of half day gatherings in three locations. Participants were asked to consider the last two years of drought fire and flood and we explored these powerful questions:

  • What was the hardest thing you experienced? What was it that concerned you most?
  • What future responses might be possible on your rural lifestyle block? If resources were not limiting, what would you like to try? What would you do differently after today?

Using the 'World Café' process as a guide, we harvested participants' knowledge and experiences identifying recovery practices, possible future responses and information gaps.

The impact

Twenty six peri-urban landholders participated in the workshops with nearly half having never participated in a Landcare event before. Many had an interest or background in permaculture, regenerative agriculture or biodynamic practices.

There was an initial expectation that the workshops would involve an “instructional” process. However, participants were inspired by recognising shared experiences, exploring ideas and engaging with community around how to respond in the future.


  1. Witnessing radical changes – water depletion, vegetation desiccation, soil loss, native animal and livestock deaths, community and business depletion – brought fear and the message that climate change is real.
  2. Participants were encouraged through communicating with others that actions such as water management, tree planting, fire and safety planning, solar systems, grey/black water use, mulching and soil improvement, are a step in the right direction.
  3. There is concern around government resource distribution in a crisis situation: a call for better community-driven planning that values local knowledge from the outset.

Key facts

  • The mental, physical and emotional toll of unprecedented drought and fire is a shared experience.
  • The experience was intensified by social media and 24-hour news cycles.
  • The participatory process was key to encourage reflection on crises, seek solutions, and determine timely actions.
  • 'Climate events' versus 'recovery periods' evoke different experiential and practical problems.
  • Tree and vegetation growth aids drought management; some species are reaching their ecological limit while others are now more suitable.
  • Peri-urban residents need to grow their landcare community and skills in order to be resilient and disaster-ready.

Project Partners