Abstract: Critiques of current attempts to build resilience in remote communities in northern Australia have generally been criticised as top-down and failing to produce meaningful outcomes. A component of the project was scoping resilience in remote communities that highlighted the challenges with current government efforts to plan for rather than with communities. Living with hazards requires that government leave space for communities to define and articulate what it takes to build hazard-smart communities. What does it mean to be hazard-smart? Who should be responsible for building hazard-smart communities? Communities in central Arnhem Land are using participatory-action research tools to talk about what it would take to ensure the survival of people facing significant hazards. Based on experiences with Cyclone Lam, communities have identified and made suggestions for what an inclusive community-led process would look like as an emergency management framework. This paper identifies key elements providing direction on how communities and governments can work together.