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Challenge

 The frequency and severity of extreme weather events and disasters is increasing, and disadvantaged households and communities are the most impacted and least able to prepare, respond and recover.

The 2022 floods have again highlighted the essential role of place-based social service organisations when emergencies and natural disasters occur. As with COVID-19 and the Black Summer fires, local non-government organisations (NGOs) have been on the ground and at the forefront during the response. They are also there for the recovery phase, once the disaster subsides and the task of ‘rebuilding’ the community is underway.

However, local NGOs are not resourced for this work, nor are they formally recognised or consulted in the emergency management system for their critical role.

What’s in the 2022-23 Budget?

Recent storms and floods

  • $13.3 million recurrent funding over 2 years, as part of the NSW Government’s response to the 2022 February/March storms and floods, to administer a community volunteer and NGO financial support program in 7 impacted Northern Rivers LGAs (Richmond Valley, Clarence Valley, Kyogle, Lismore, Tweed, Ballina, Byron), including:
    • $7.6 million for community and volunteer-based NGOs to continue providing on-the-ground flood recovery services
    • $5 million to support severely affected community service providers providing essential community services in the Northern Rivers region
    • $700,000 for program delivery & monitoring.
  • $1.5 million in 2022-23 as part of a previously announced $17.2 million package to continue temporary accommodation support in response to storms and floods
  • $211.2 million to establish and enable the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation (NRRC) to operate as a ‘front door to Government’ in setting and implementing reconstruction priorities for flood-affected communities.
  • $1.2 million to support the 2022 NSW Flood Inquiry.

Resilience NSW

  • $1.4 billion ($2.1 billion over 3 years) for Resilience NSW to support the response to 2022 February/March storms and floods, with funding to be provided to various Government agencies to:
    • Support disaster clean-up
    • Deliver state and local government transport infrastructure resilience improvements and upgrades in the Northern Rivers region ($312.5 million)
    • Provide temporary housing assistance packages
    • Provide an extension of recovery grants to primary producers, small businesses and not-for-profit organisations
    • Deliver critical infrastructure and housing priorities
  • $200.3 million for Resilience NSW for Disaster Relief Account Supplementation to meet expenditure requirements of existing disaster recovery programs.

What does it mean for those doing it tough?

Communities impacted by recent disasters will benefit from targeted funding to not only aid reconstruction and recovery, but also provide some additional, time-limited resources for on-the-ground community services to continue supporting those who need it. It will be crucial for this funding to be implemented effectively and immediately in close consultation with local leaders and services, and for it to be provided for the duration that the demand is there.

The establishment of the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation is also a positive and welcome step and will go some way to ensuring disaster response and recovery in the Northern Rivers is locally-driven and led.

What is needed?

Given their key role in local response, recovery, resilience-building and disaster preparedness, it is crucial that local, place-based NGOs are adequately resourced for the long term, formally recognised for this role and embedded in emergency management systems going forward. $13.3 million is a starting point that will need to be built on.

While the continued funding for temporary accommodation in flood-impacted areas is necessary, this budget appears a missed opportunity to target identified funding to significantly increase the number of permanent social and affordable homes in NSW and particularly in regions where the need is highest, including the Northern Rivers. The growing housing crisis in the Northern Rivers should be tackled through a rapid ‘Social Housing Repair, Rebuild and Construct’ program.

Further information

Budget responses from the sector:

Sector priorities:

Read our analysis on other specific policy areas below:

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NCOSS Media Release: Big Spending Budget Fails Those Most in Need