The New South Wales Government has announced that it will be funding the NSW Reconstruction Authority with $115 million to ensure that communities in the state are better prepared to endure and recover from natural disasters.
The NSW Reconstruction Authority was established with bipartisan support in November 2022 after Resilience NSW was dissolved.
It was established in line with recommendations from the independent 2022 NSW Flood Inquiry, led by Professor Mary O’Kane and Mick Fuller.
This $115 million commitment will see the NSW Reconstruction Authority become the first entity of its kind in New South Wales with the resources needed to proactively reduce the impact of future disasters before they happen, as well as respond effectively after.
The investment will take the NSW Reconstruction Authority budget to $321.3 million over four years.
It means the agency can also start on a State Disaster Mitigation Plan and Disaster Adaptation Plans.
Other projects include:
- Supporting clean-ups and damage assessments
- Organising safe temporary housing
- Coordinating the repair and reestablishment of critical infrastructure such as schools and healthcare services
- Supporting councils and state agencies in rebuilding essential assets and infrastructure such as roads and bridges
- Public education and awareness campaigns
- Distributing state and federal disaster recovery funding
The authority currently facilitates more than $6.8 billion in state and federal grant programs offering support and practical help to those who need it most.
Natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more severe as a result of the impacts of climate change.
Since 2019, New South Wales has seen more than 60 declared disasters, costing the state $5 billion, with 20,000 homes damaged in 2022 alone.
The financial costs of responding to natural disasters are only increasing. The State Government said that is why it is properly funding and resourcing the NSW Reconstruction Authority.
New South Wales Premier, Chris Minns, said that after seeing the devastating impacts of floods and fires across New South Wales, he is determined to take the action needed to save lives and ensure New South Wales has resilience in preparedness and response to natural disasters.
“We know future natural disasters aren’t just a remote possibility – more are coming. It’s why we need to invest now to reduce the risk to communities, and then be ready and prepared to respond when disaster strikes,” Mr Minns said.
New South Wales Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Paul Scully, said that being prepared doesn’t seem important or urgent until a disaster strikes, and then its value becomes very clear, very quickly.
“This investment will allow the NSW Reconstruction Authority to be there for communities long before a disaster strikes and long after the disaster has passed.”
New South Wales Minister for Emergency Services, Jihad Dib, said that while natural disasters can’t be stopped, more can be done to prepare and prevent the worst impacts.
“We’re lucky enough to have some of the country’s best and most experienced emergency service workers and this funding will make their jobs safer by reducing risks and better planning for the future,” Mr Dib said.
“This is a smart, staged investment to make sure communities are better prepared for disasters, and so we can deliver cost-effective reconstruction programs and responsibly manage billions in state and federal disaster funding.”
Parliamentary Secretary for Disaster Recover, Janelle Saffin, said that preparedness in all its forms at all levels of community and government is key and with the NSW Reconstruction Authority New South Wales now has the opportunity to do this.
“The NSW Reconstruction Authority was needed to be the overarching agency that could take a whole-of-government planning approach to the preparation, response and recovery to disasters, so that recovery plans and packages are in place before the disaster and the work on local adaptation plans and state mitigation actions scales up,” Ms Saffin said.
“In the Northern Rivers there was a scramble to prepare the response and the recovery in the midst of the largest and most costly natural disaster Australia has seen.
“The painful lessons learned are all being utilised in the consolidation of the NSW Reconstruction Authority, as is the now 12-year successful experience of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority.
“Such groundwork ensures that agencies are ready to do the response and recovery work and that local communities who drive recovery can work in close collaboration with state and regional agencies.”