Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia, 16–18 November 2021 2021

Tag us! #SEGRA2021 #SEGRAKB

Dr Catherine Mackenzie

Research Fellow, University of South Australia

Dr Catherine Mackenzie


An ecological systems approach to place-based regional business recovery

We developed this project to advance the agenda of the Regional Australia Institute’s (RAI) 2020 Intergovernmental Shared Inquiry Program; specifically, ‘What have been the recovery pathways for businesses in disaster-affected rural and regional communities?’. Our project findings provide guidance to regional communities and policymakers to develop effective place-based strategies for regional business disaster recovery – including during and post-pandemic.

The research question guiding this paper is: What are the best ways to co-ordinate the activities of different levels of government, with community, non-government organisation and corporate support to assist with the short-, medium- and long-term impacts of disasters?

We present a place-based toolkit that we developed with Project Advisory Group members from findings from two South Australian case studies to assist people to map the recovery pathways of their regional business sectors. Our study findings provide information about how to support regional businesses to collaborate with the communities in which they operate, non-government organisations, and all levels of government to recover and thrive post-disaster, as well as promote business resilience in the future.

Using ecological systems theory the findings are relevant beyond the two case studies, providing guidance to policymakers in their efforts to provide place-based, effective support across diverse Australian regions. We conclude that the development of place-based recovery pathways is needed to ensure the future sustainability of regional Australia and we present strength-based recommendations, grounded in our findings, for action across all levels of the ecological system.


I am a Research Fellow at The Australian Alliance for Social Enterprise at the University of South Australia and almost all of my research is with regional communities investigating topics of importance identified by those communities.

My research work, for the past 5 years, has been directed towards working in industry partnerships to facilitate knowledge exchange and translation in ways that will enhance the lives of people living in regional Australia. My colleagues and I work with people and communities to drive evidence-led change in the social service sector, and to work towards better outcomes for people in need of social support.