Partnering to test 'what works'

Trial: DJAARA-led Local Government Adaptation Forum

Partnering to test 'what works'

Supporting climate adaptation planning and response by improving cultural awareness and partnerships between local government and Traditional Owners.


This trial evaluated an approach led by Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (DJAARA) to bring together 11 local government councils on Dja Dja Wurrung Country (central Victoria) and other land governance bodies in a workshop that shared climate adaptation challenges, ideas, and concrete ideas for partnerships. This was the Adaptation Forum.

The Forum sought to help local government climate change and sustainability officers to build cultural awareness of Dja Dja Wurrung climate resilience approaches and support the development of partnerships for climate adaptation planning and response in the region.

Read a detailed evaluation report on the DJAARA-led Adaptation Forum:

Evaluation Report

To read a short briefing with key results and recommendations, email for access to the briefing

The challenge

The overall goal of the Adaptation Forum trial was to address the agreed challenge, such that adaptation planning is being led by local communities and Traditional Owner knowledge; and local governments improve their climate adaptive capacity.

Target audience and target behaviours

The target audience for the Adaptation Forum was local government staff involved in climate adaptation planning and response.

The target behaviours were (1) embedding participatory and inclusive methods in climate adaptation planning; and (2) partnering with DJAARA in climate adaptation planning and response.

The identified influences (drivers and barriers) for the target behaviours were (1) cultural awareness of DJAARA; (2) knowledge of DJAARA climate priorities; (3) belief that DJAARA can bring expertise and capabilities in adaptation planning and response; and (4) willingness to partner with DJAARA in climate adaptation.

The behaviour change intervention: DJAARA-led Adaptation Forum

The Adaptation Forum was a one-day workshop on Dja Dja Wurrung Country, led by DJAARA. It was based at No. 7 Park, outside Bendigo in central Victoria, Australia. Attendees included members of the target audience (i.e., local government staff in climate adaptation), as well as representatives from DJAARA, the Victorian Department of Energy, Environment, and Climate Action (DEECA), and Catchment Management Authorities.

Over the course of the day (and an online introductory session the week before), attendees learned about Dja Dja Wurrung climate priorities & capabilities;  discussed challenges in climate adaptation planning and response for local government; and identified opportunities to work together to care for Country through partnerships and other climate mitigation & adaptation work.

What we learned

We conducted surveys and interviews to evaluate the Adaptation Forum and its effects on the target audience and behaviours. We used a comprehensive evaluative framework based on five criteria, (1) relevance, did it meet participants’ needs; (2) coherence, did it fit with existing priorities and activities in the region; (3) effectiveness, did it change behavioural influences and behaviour; (4) impact, did it improve adaptive capacity and partnerships; and (5) sustainability, did the effects last.

We found that for the target audience, the Adaptation Forum was relevant and coherent. It met their needs for improving their cultural awareness and improving their skills in climate adaptation. It also aligned with existing government strategies, which emphasises regional, local government, and Traditional Owner perspectives. There was little evidence of the sustainability of the benefits from the Adaptation Forum.

There was mixed evidence for how effective it was. The Forum increased the target audience's cultural awareness, knowledge, and willingness to engage with DJAARA. However, at the time of evaluation (4 months post-Forum) there were not yet new formal partnerships with DJAARA in climate adaptation planning and response.

There was mixed evidence for the Forum's impact. Two councils described including DJAARA in new collaborations and partnerships for climate adaptation planning and response. Some local government attendees reported that their council's adaptive capacity changed after the Adaptation Forum, but these changes were primarily attributed to within-council activities (e.g., council climate strategy). More changes in adaptive capacity were anticipated over the following 12 months, with more inclusion of DJAARA.