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Byron Shire
October 23, 2021

Byron shire’s disaster recovery effort found wanting

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Byron Shire acting general manager Mark Arnold and Euan Ferguson flood recovery coordinator discussing disaster relief at Byron Shire Council chambers. Photo Aslan Shand.
Byron Shire acting general manager Mark Arnold and flood-recovery coordinator Euan Ferguson discussing disaster relief at Byron Shire Council chambers. Photo Aslan Shand.

A more effective response to the recent flood disaster could have been made for Byron shire, according to officials who met this week.

Euan Ferguson, flood recovery coordinator for the northern rivers region, met with Byron Shire Council yesterday where it was recognised the response had been not so effective.

As a result of the meeting, it was decided to place two members of the disaster recovery unit at the Mullumbimby and District Neighbourhood Centre (MDNC) from Tuesday.

‘This will provide local people with more effective access to services,’ said Byron Shire acting general manager Mark Arnold.

The obvious impact of ex-cyclone Debbie on Lismore and Murwillumbah activated immediate commonwealth disaster relief and then triggered category C funding announced yesterday.

Byron and Ballina Shires have both experienced more localised impacts that did not automatically trigger disaster relief funding with assessments of smaller and isolated communities taking longer according to Ferguson.

‘They have made it clear door is still open,’ said a member of Ferguson’s team.

The flood recovery team are still collating data on the impact of the floods locally. This information is being constantly fed back to state and federal government to inform their decision on what disaster relief will be provided.

There are several ways to provide information to the government including business and resident surveys and writing a victim impact statement.


Filling out the small business survey provides essential information for the governments assessment determining the need for disaster relief.

‘It really didn’t take more than a minute,’ said one business in Billinudgel.

‘It was very quick and simple to do.’

There are a number of ways that information on the damage to local communities and businesses are collated.

The NSW fire and rescue and the SES have been conducting assessments across the Byron Shire looking at damage to peoples homes and businesses. This information will be combined with the results of the small business survey to determine an assessment of local needs and potential funding. They will be following up with door knocking to provide back up to the results of the survey.

Residents and businesses are encourage to fill out the flood survey that has been put together by Byron Shire Council, this assists council in providing data to state and federal government on the need for local disaster relief.

Councils, local MPs and senators vital

Local councils,  MPs and senators form an essential part of the process and their advocacy is key to the provision of disaster relief funding said Ferguson’s office.

‘You can also do a victim impact statement,’ said local disaster relief volunteer Nicqui Yazdi.

‘Tell your whole story. How the flood has affected you and your family. How it has impacted on your home and your business.

‘Send these into council, your MP and senators so they can help you.’

State disaster funding available

Though commonwealth funding is not currently available in Byron and Ballina Shires you may be eligible for assistance through the states natural disaster assistance scheme that can include funding essential repairs to household contents and structural repairs to homes.

Recovery Centres

Ferguson was keen to highlight that the recovery centres at Murwillumbah and Lismore were for anyone in the region affected by ex-cyclone Debbie and that they were also set up for people from Ballina and Byron Shires.

Agencies based at the Recovery Centres will include: NSW Health, Disaster Welfare, Primary Industries, Insurance Agencies, Family and Community Services, Business Connect, Legal Aid, Environment Protection Authority, Centrelink, Red Cross and Safe Work NSW.

Opening times

Murwillumbah Recovery Centre, Murwillumbah Community Centre, Nullum Street, Murwillumbah, 02 6626 5692

Lismore Recovery Centre Public Works Facility, 120 Dalley Street East Lismore, entry via Military Road, 02 6670 2133

Easter Opening Hours Closed on Good Friday

10am – 4pm Saturday/Sunday/Monday

9am – 6pm From Tuesday onwards

Mullumbimby District Neighbourhood Centre is closed over easter and reopens Tuesday.

Normal opening times 9am – 4pm Monday to Friday.

Tea and coffee is available from 10am. Free community meals from 12.30 to 2.30 Monday to Friday, 02 6684 1286.

Furniture and utilities including couches, fridges, beds, bedside tables and a washer and dryer are available from the Mullumbimby railway station from Tuesday. They will be giving these things away to people affected by the floods for the next few weeks.

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