Page 45 - Final Report-8 NO TRANSPARENCY

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Resilient urban systems:
a socio-technical study of community scale climate change adaptation initiatives
“They promised two schools and one grocery, one something. And it’s late, already here
four years, nothing. So, yeah.” (A11)
The Aurora Community Association (ACA) has the potential to address this gap. However, of the three
interviewed householders that were actively involved in the ACA, only two indicated that they use it quite
purposefully as a way of interacting with Places Victoria and having their voice heard. More generally, based
on the interviews, responsibility is not always clear as far as some of the residents of Aurora are concerned:
Q: “Are you clear of the boundaries of responsibility between the systems you have?”
“No, I have no idea now.” (A6)
“They [Places Victoria] couldn’t fix [the solar system], there was nothing that they could
do. They weren’t in charge of the maintenance because we were still under warranty with
[builder], so then we had to get [the builder] to come out. In the first instance they thought
maybe it was an installation issue so they sent out the installers.” (A5)
Q: ‘But it was an appliance issue…?”
“Yeah.” (A5)
Moreover, residents in communities with limited local organisational capacity often have no idea if other
residents are experiencing the same problems and so root causes and solutions, if they exist, are rarely
identified. On several occasions at Aurora, the interview was the first time that residents heard of other
households raising similar issues. This situation increases households’ vulnerability to system disturbance
because it:
• Decreases their capacity to share knowledge with other householders;
• Does not reinforce collective responsibility;
• Limits opportunities to identify issues across the community; and
• Places a burden on individual householders’ time and finances in having to individually bear the
costs of any action.
As Woolcock and Narayan (2000) state, “The very capacity of social groups to act in their collective interest
depends on the quality of the formal institutions under which they reside.”
WestWyck, in contrast, was conceived of as a self-organised community from the start. The developer is
also a member of the Owners’ Corporation and all contracts and negotiations with system manufacturers,
installers and contractors are enacted through the WOC:
“The approach to the different providers are done through the body corporate.” (W2)
Lines of responsibility are clear and householders appear confident in their knowledge of who to contact/
what to do in the event of a problem. The boundaries between the technical systems, institutions and
‘customers’ are much less distinct than at Aurora, and the technical systems, or more accurately the
institutional structures surrounding them, actually rely to some extent on interaction and feedback from
householders to note any changes in performance. This is facilitated firstly by sensory feedback from
system hardware (the sound of a pump, or its absence; the water quality warning alarm; the depth of water
in the worm tank or reed beds), and secondly the opportunity to interact with the community and address
problems using existing and shared knowledge.
“I only noticed it in here because the pump wasn’t working. It’s quite a loud, quite a loud
pump.” (W3)
“So incrementally, just to save emergencies and so on we’ve gradually found out which
button we need to press. The first time that happened I mean there were six of us over
a whole weekend with this alarm going and nobody knew where to begin, you know we
all just sort of looked at one another and left it. So I think knowledge is power and then
recognising that there are some things that you have to call for assistance.” (W7)