Wide Bay communities to benefit from new national disaster agency
Wide Bay communities hit by major disasters, drought and other hazards will be supported by a new national agency dedicated to coordinating locally-led recovery and driving efforts to reduce the impacts of future large-scale disasters.
Federal Member for Wide Bay and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Llew O’Brien welcomed the establishment of the new National Recovery and Resilience Agency, part of the major Disaster Resilience Reform package recently unveiled by the Australian Government in response to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.
“Floods, bushfires, and drought have always been a part of the Wide Bay landscape, and in recent times we have had all three occur, as well as severe storms, and hazards like the COVID-19 pandemic which have significantly impacted our way of life,” Mr O’Brien said.
“We can be better prepared, and the National Recovery and Resilience Agency will help drive improvements and increase our readiness and resilience, for Wide Bay communities and around the country.
“It’s time to build on the strategies that work well and put in place better systems where changes are needed, so that we are ready when natural disasters strike again.
The new National Recovery and Resilience Agency, led by Coordinator-General the Hon Shane Stone AC QC, immediately brings together the former National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency and the National Bushfire Recovery Agency. It builds on the strong foundation laid by these past agencies, and the close relationships already forged with communities and across jurisdictions, sectors and different levels of government.
The Agency will provide support to Emergency Management Australia during the immediate relief phase after major disasters, and will play a critical role in the recovery phase for severely impacted communities whilst working to design and revise policies and programs that will future proof Australians against major disasters.
From 1 July, the Agency will incorporate the disaster risk reduction and recovery functions from the Department of Home Affairs and its regional network will expand to include Rural Financial Counsellors, who are currently managed the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.
“Existing recovery efforts are continuing, and there’s still money flowing from bushfire recovery, flood support and drought relief, as well as new grants are on the horizon through the $600 million Preparing Australia Program to boost community disaster resilience,” Mr O’Brien said.
“I’m pleased to see this big step forward in disaster reform, and the new investments that support it. I look forward to working with the National Recovery and Resilience Agency into the future.”
Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said in line with its guiding principle of locally-led recovery and a strong on-the-ground presence, the National Recovery and Resilience Agency will continue supporting communities affected by the 2019 North Queensland Monsoon Trough, the 2019-20 Black Summer Bushfires and drought. It will also start the important work of supporting communities in NSW and Queensland hit by the March storms and floods.
From 1 July, the Agency will incorporate the disaster risk reduction and recovery functions from the Department of Home Affairs and will take on responsibility for management of the Rural Financial Counselling Program, complementing the Agency’s on the ground network of regional officers.
“Our priority is ensuring people who’ve been through terrible events like flood, bushfire, and the enduring drought are supported in the days, weeks and years ahead,” Minister Littleproud said.
The significant reforms outlined by the Australian Government also included:
- Disaster recovery scenario training to help regional communities prepare for high-risk hazards as part of a $4.5 million National Capability Package. The package also comprises accredited training for people working in disaster recovery and two pilot Resilience Hubs to coordinate regional training and capability development across all levels of government when responding to a natural disaster.
- The new Australian Climate Service, which will build on the expertise of the Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia, CSIRO and the Australian Bureau of Statistics to give new information and insights to understand future climate and natural disaster risks and ensure we make better decisions on things like what to build and where.