ONE of the frustrations I hear from people as I talk with affected communities is about the confusing nature of the assistance programs available after a disaster event.
The reconstruction task before us is enormous, but I know that for many Queenslanders, making sense of the money during a crisis is even harder.
For people in areas of Queensland who are regularly impacted by natural disasters like cyclones, the processes for getting help to get back on your feet after an event are better known. But the size and scope of the disaster events that hit us last summer are so large, that for many this will be the first time they have to navigate what can be a complicated process at a very difficult time.
And with so many areas hit hard, even finding out where to go for help can be overwhelming. And so, I want to spend some time unscrambling the ‘‘ help egg’’.
The cost of reconstructing Queensland post floods and Cyclone Yasi will be more than $ 5 billion. The Commonwealth and State Governments have an assistance program called the NDRRA or Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangement which comes into effect when disaster strikes and immediately after.
The scheme is funded at 75 per cent by the Commonwealth and 25 per cent from the State Government. The Federal Government has already put $ 2 billion towards the reconstruction effort. Much of the money needed for the reconstruction of Queensland’s public infrastructure will come from this scheme and the authority will manage the money to ensure that we make that allocation go as far as possible.
The NDRRA is broadly split into four categories: • Category A is a form of immediate emergency assistance that is given to people to help ease personal hardship as a direct result of a natural disaster. It pays for things such as emergency accommodation and food, as well as counter disaster operations like sandbags or tarpaulins. • Category B basically fixes what was broken. It pays for repairs to public assets like major roads and helps businesses back on t heir f eet through grants and special loans. It also helps people have essential services like gas, power and sewerage fixed in their homes. • Category C includes community recovery packages that look at the recovery from a holistic perspective by providing grants to businesses, primary producers and not-forprofit organisations for activities like cleanup, debris removal and fodder drops. •The recen tly announced Category D provides extra supportfor eligible Category C applicants who have suffered extreme damage by providing access to concessional loans and grants. It is targeted at industries that are significanttolocal c ommunities a nd whose prolonged closure will have a huge impact.
The reality is, of course, that not all reconstruction jobs will fit under the four categories t he NDRRA provides for . That’s why the government has announced other programs like the $ 315 million local councils package and the $ 24.5 million Sports Fightback Fund which will pay for the reconstruction of water treatment plants and community sporting facilities.
And yet, there’ll be others that won’t fit in any of the categories – that’s where donations will make all the difference. As well making sure every dollar is best spent in affected communities, t he authority is also managing adonor-ma tching program where pledges will be matched to communities most in need of help. But we need your help to get it right. The reconstruction effort will be driven from the ground up. You know your communities best and you understand your needs. So stay engaged in the debate over ideas and suggestions and above all, put your efforts into your community’s recovery.
FUNDING: Category B basically fixes what was broken like major roads and helps businesses back on their feet