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Wednesday, 25 May 2016 17:24

Our People – Geoff Robinson, Act for Peace

Our People – Geoff Robinson, Act for Peace

Geoff is the Disaster Risk Resilience Manager for Act for Peace (AfP), based in Melbourne. In this role he has responsibility for supporting AfP’s partners to develop and implement disaster risk management programs that increase community resilience to disasters. Geoff explains “Partners are the local organisations that we support in country to implement programs; usually they faith-based organisations such as the Tonga National council of Churches (TNCC) or the Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC)”. His work includes programming activities that empower communities to take action be better prepared for disasters and the uncertainty caused by climate change as well as working with partners in times of emergencies in their efforts to provide immediate life-saving assistance and support early recovery of livelihoods and well of people affected by disasters.

He was attracted to work for AfP because it values strengthening the capacity of local organisations to implement community based solutions to the challenges people live with on a daily basis in some of the most disaster prone regions of the world. This commitment to long term partnerships aimed at increasing community resilience through approaches that empower individuals at the grass roots level is a sustainable approach that works especially well in developing countries where government support structures are not able to reach all of the population.

Geoff portraitOver the course of his career Geoff has been fortunate to have been able to work with people who are dependent on natural resources and the environment for their livelihood and well-being for almost 20 years. This has given him the opportunity to be part of developing and implementing projects that help people to learn about, better manage and benefit from living with a healthy environment. Particular highlights that stand out include being able to contribute in a positive way as part of emergency response programs in Australia following floods and bushfires and following significant cyclones in the Pacific.

During the last 6 years he has been fortunate to work with local organisations and Pacific Island communities on a range of projects that have aimed to meet very real and practical needs for people dependent on natural resources and threatened by disasters and climate change. He notes that “Developing training materials and resources and working with teachers and schools to introduce climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction into education programs has also been particularly rewarding, knowing that you are empowering young people with key skills and knowledge to take through life with them”.

As the first born son of Irish immigrants Geoff was brought up in a family that held strong values of respect, empathy and justice. These early experiences along with being introduced to Christianity through the Catholic Church helped him to develop faith in humanity and a belief that everybody can act to make the world a better place for people less fortunate and not able to enjoy the freedoms and quality of life many take for granted.

Geoff Indonesia school DRRIn his present role the priority is the work we do empowering communities to take action that improves safety and resilience really makes a difference. In his role Geoff is able to support the development and implementation of projects by AfP’s local partners for communities that help meet their needs. He says “This can include many things from providing guidance on how to access and use information to adapt to the increasing impacts of a changing climate or on process, delivering training on how to be better prepared for disasters or working with our local partners to help build their skills and knowledge to manage projects to benefit people in their communities and being on call to provide support and assistance when an emergency does happen”.

Outside of work Geoff says he enjoys spending time outdoors with friends and family. “With two teenage girls in the family being part of their lives and watching them grow is probably my greatest interest. I have a real love of the ocean and find surfing is a great way to unwind, connect with nature and recharge your body and mind.  I also like to play guitar when I have time to sit still”.

When asked who his greatest inspiration is, Geoff says “It’s hard to single out a single greatest inspiration, as there are several people and events that have helped shaped the person I am today. Without a doubt my family have been the biggest influence in my life giving me the opportunity to grow up in a supportive environment full of life experiences to build the confidence to believe in yourself and others and to follow your dreams.  If I was to name an individual I would have to say David Attenborough, through his journalism has inspired me to better understand the natural world and how people live and interact with world around them and seek to share my appreciation for living in harmony with our environment with others”.

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