Major milestones in disaster recovery for Northern Rivers

NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Disaster Recovery and Lismore MP Janelle Saffin joined Ministers Paul Scully and Jihad Dib to update local communities on major milestones in disaster recovery for the Northern Rivers.

Visuals for Resilient Lands Program – North Lismore available here

Visuals for Drainage Reset Program available here

Australia’s largest disaster adaptation project on the Northern Rivers has moved into its next phase, with tailored home assessments available to make homes more resilient against flooding.

Under the Home Raising and Home Retrofit stream of the $790 million Resilient Homes Program approximately 370 homeowners have been identified as eligible for home raising or retrofit.

A key recommendation of the NSW Flood Inquiry, home raising reduces risk by raising homes to reduce the frequency of potential flood related damage, while home retrofits reduce risk by refurbishing homes to better withstand flooding.

The NSW Reconstruction Authority (RA) is working with leading architect for flood resilient design, James Davidson from JDA Co, to establish the program and develop guidance for home raising and retrofit work. After receiving their free in-home assessment report, homeowners can appoint their builder of choice to deliver works suitable to their home to make it more resilient to future flooding.

Eligible homeowners will be granted up to $50,000 for a home retrofit and $100,000 for a home raise with a dollar-for dollar co-contribution between the RA and homeowners, up to a maximum of $100,000 for retrofits and $200,000 for home raising.

In addition to this program, the highly anticipated North Lismore development has been announced as the latest site to be released through the $100 million Resilient Lands Program and will deliver around 85 home sites.

This follows previous announcements at East Lismore, Goonellabah, Brunswick Heads, Casino and Lennox Head, with more than 2,800 housing sites now in the planning pipeline across the Northern Rivers.

North Lismore will be master planned and developed in consultation with the community, taking into consideration the site’s environmental, biodiversity and cultural significance.

As part of the supporting infrastructure program, to assist primary producers, up to 100 drains that support agricultural properties across the Northern Rivers are being repaired and cleaned out through the $5 million Northern Rivers Agricultural Drainage Reset Program.

Vegetation build-up presents a serious problem with large drains unable to channel water away from the land.

The program will drive long-term resilience and ensure farmers and communities are better equipped to withstand and recover from future floods. It is being delivered by the RA in partnership with Soil Conservation Service and in cooperation with local councils.

The recovery program is being informed by feedback from the community and the Northern Rivers Community Leaders Forum which was established 12 months ago.

Between August 2023 and January 2024, the RA doorknocked more than 4880 homes across seven LGAs. Pop-up information offices continue to be an important conduit between the RA and the community, with more than 4,339 visitors as of late June.

These changes are expected to lead to better outcomes as the region moves into medium to long-term recovery phase from the 2022 floods.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully said:

“What we’re doing in the Northern Rivers is not a simple rebuilding exercise – we’re making significant long-term changes to where people live, how we plan for climate change and how we mitigate future disasters.

“As part of our commitment to disaster mitigation, there’s already been significant progress with the Resilient Homes Program, but there is still more to do.

“As of June 28, 788 buyback offers had been approved and 656 offers accepted, which represents an 83 per cent take-up rate.

“Today we’re announcing that North Lismore is the sixth site for more homes through the Resilient Lands Program and there are more to come.”

Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib said:

“During our many visits to the area we have seen the community working together to maintain the unique identity of the region and the strong desire to build back better.

“We established the community leaders forum to guide decision-making and local engagement is informing projects supporting flood recovery efforts and making communities more resilient.

“Across the region a wide range of projects are underway including improvements to evacuation routes which will provide better access for emergency workers and supplies during disasters.”

Parliamentary Secretary for Disaster Recovery Janelle Saffin said:

“As chair of the Community Leaders forum I am enormously pleased to see input from that group included in announcements like today.

“Feedback from the community has helped the NSW Reconstruction Authority to develop a more people-friendly, place-based approach to determine eligibility for key programs like the Resilient Homes Program. That is a good thing.

“Repeat visits by my parliamentary colleagues show the reset is progressing in the Northern Rivers and the NSW Government is in this recovery for the long haul.”

Lismore Mayor Steve Krieg said:

“I am pleased that the NSW Government agreed to Council’s call for a ‘reset’ a year or so ago and developed a more community centric approach that has seen the pace of our recovery pick up, although as we all know. We still have some way to go.

“I welcome the announcement on North Lismore that will allow disaster-affected families to build new houses or relocate their existing timber home. The commencement of the Raise and Retrofit program will also be very welcomed by the community.”

CAPTION:  Janelle Saffin MP with (from left) Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib, Ballina MP Tamara Smith, Planning Minister Paul Scully and Reconstruction Authority CEO Mal Lanyon updating media on latest milestones in disaster recovery