Scroll across for research findings and considerations for supporting disaster recovery.

Below, you will find outlines of ‘what we know’ from evidence about the role of political capital in disaster recovery, including how it can affect wellbeing and interact with other recovery capitals. These statements summarise academic evidence, but they do not represent the entire evidence base. You can find original evidence sources in the reference list below.

You will also find prompts to consider when applying this knowledge to disaster recovery support efforts.

The recovery capitals are deeply interrelated – look out for the little icons which highlight points of relevance to the other capitals.

Labelled icons for natural, social, financial, cultural, political, built and human capital

Please share your feedback

The pilot ReCap guide was released in July 2020 for piloting and is a work in progress. Your feedback is most welcome up until March 31st 2021.

Feedback survey

Please get in touch with any comments or enquiries.

Contact ReCap

Re Cap Org Logos

This resource has been developed through the Recovery Capitals (ReCap) project, which is an Australia-Aotearoa New Zealand collaboration. The ReCap project is being undertaken by the University of Melbourne and Massey University in New Zealand, with the support of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre. Australian Red Cross is the lead partner organisation. Illustrations by Oslo Davis. ReCap logo by Alana Pirrone and Oslo Davis.



  1. Himes-Cornell A, Ormond C, Hoelting K, Ban NC, Zachary Koehn J, Allison EH, et al. Factors Affecting Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Using the Community Capitals Framework. Coastal Management. 2018 Sep 3;46(5):335–58.
  2. Emery M, Fey S, Flora C. Using community capitals to develop assets for positive community change. CD Practice. 2006;13:1–19.
  3. Jacobs C. Measuring success in communities: The community capitals framework. 2011;
  4. Aldrich DP. It’s who you know: Factors driving recovery from Japan’s 11 March 2011 disaster. Public Administration. 2016 Jun;94(2):399–413.
  5. Aldrich DP. Black wave: how networks and governance shaped Japan’s 3/11 disasters. University of Chicago Press; 2019.
  6. Blake D, Marlowe J, Johnston D. Get prepared: Discourse for the privileged? International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction. 2017 Oct 1;25:283–8.
  7. Williamson B, Markham F, Weir J. Aboriginal peoples and the response to the 2019–2020 bushfires, Working Paper No. 134/2020. Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University, Canberra; 2020.
  8. Blake D. Social determinants of health for opioid substitution treatment and emergency management in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Australian Community Psychologist. 2018;29(1).
  9. Parkinson D. Investigating the Increase in Domestic Violence Post Disaster: An Australian Case Study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2019 Jun 1;34(11):2333–62.
  10. Fraser C, Blake D. Valuing Voices: Sex workers’ experiences following the Canterbury earthquakes. Disaster Research Science Report; 2020/01. Wellington (NZ); 2020.
  11. van Kessel G, MacDougall C, Gibbs L. The Process of Rebuilding Human Resilience in the Face of the Experience of a Natural Disaster: A Multisystem Model. IJEMHHR. 2015;17(4):678–87.
  12. Van Kessel, G., Gibbs, L., & MacDougall C. Strategies to enhance resilience post-natural disaster: a qualitative study of experiences with Australian floods and fires. Journal of Public Health. 2014;37(2):328–36.
  13. Aldrich DP. Challenges to Coordination: Understanding Intergovernmental Friction During Disasters. International Journal of Disaster Risk Science. 2019 Sep;10(3):306–16.
  14. Dibley G, Mitchell L, Ireton G, Gordon R. Government’s role in supporting community-led approaches to recovery. 2019.
  15. Aldrich DP. Building resilience: Social capital in post-disaster recovery. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 2012. 232 p.
  16. Collins S, Glavovic B, Johal S, Johnston D. Community engagement post-disaster: case studies of the 2006 Matata debris flow and 2010 Darfield earthquake, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Psychology. 2011;40:17–525.
  17. Kenney CM, Phibbs SR, Paton D, Reid J, Johnston DM. Community-led disaster risk management: A Māori response to ōtautahi (christchurch) earthquakes. Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies. 2015;19(Special Issue):9–20.
  18. O’Neill K. Communities at the Heart of Recovery: Reflections on the Government-Community Partnership for Recovery After the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires in Victoria, Australia. In: Natural Disaster Management in the Asia-Pacific. Springer; 2015. p. 119–38.
  19. Eburn M, Dovers S. Learning lessons from disasters: Alternatives to Royal Commissions and other quasi‐judicial inquiries. Australian Journal of Public Administration. 2015;74(4):495–508.
  20. Boin A, McConnell A, Hart P. Governing after crisis: The politics of investigation, accountability and learning. 2008.
  21. Gibbs L, MacDougall C, Block K. Political reflexivity in post-bushfire research. Qualitative Research Journal. 2014;14(3).
  22. Gibbs L, Block K, MacDougall C, Harms L, Baker E, Richardson J, et al. Ethical use and impact of participatory approaches to research in post-disaster environments: An Australian bushfire case study. Biomed Research International. 2018;
  23. Beaven S, Wilson T, Johnston L, Johnston D, Smith R. Research engagement after disasters: research coordination before, during, and after the 2011–2012 Canterbury earthquake sequence, New Zealand. Earthquake Spectra. 2016;32(2):713–35.
  24. Frazier TG, Walker MH, Kumari A, Thompson CM. Opportunities and constraints to hazard mitigation planning. Applied Geography. 2013;40:52–60.
  25. McClure J, Wills C, Johnston D, Recker C. New Zealanders’ judgments of earthquake risk before and after the Canterbury earthquakes: Do they relate to preparedness? New Zealand Journal of Psychology. 2011;40:7–11.
  26. Ulubaşoğlu M. Natural disasters increase inequality. Recovery funding may make things worse. The Conversation. 2020 Feb 27;
  27. March A, Henry S. A better future from imagining the worst: Land use planning and training responses to natural disaster. Australian Journal of Emergency Management, The. 2007;22(3):17.
  28. Mason MS, Haynes K. Adaptation lessons from cyclone Tracy. National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility; 2010.
  29. van den Honert RC, McAneney J. The 2011 Brisbane Floods: Causes, Impacts and Implications. Water. 2011 Dec 9;3(4):1149–73.
  30. Banks M, Bowman D. Juggling risks: insurance in households struggling with financial insecurity. Brotherhood of St Laurence; 2017.
  31. Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission Final Report Summary. Vol. PP No. 332. Government Printer for the State of Victoria; 2009.
  32. Kornakova M, March A, Gleeson B. Institutional adjustments and strategic planning action: The case of Victorian Wildfire Planning. Planning Practice & Research. 2018;33(2):120–36.
  33. Gallagher C, Block K, Gibbs L, Forbes D, Lusher D, Molyneaux R, et al. The effect of group involvement on post-disaster mental health: A longitudinal multilevel analysis. Social Science & Medicine. 2019;220:167–75.
  34. Ombler J, Washington S. Seismic Shifts: The Canterbury earthquakes and public sector innovation. Future-Proofing the State. 2014;277.
  35. Comfort LK, Boin A, Demchak CC. Designing resilience: Preparing for extreme events. University of Pittsburgh Pre; 2010.
  36. Waugh Jr WL, Streib G. Collaboration and leadership for effective emergency management. Public administration review. 2006;66:131–40.
  37. Usdin L. Building resiliency and supporting distributive leadership post-disaster. International Journal of Leadership in Public Services. 2014;