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Byron Shire
January 29, 2023

Call for NRRC to intervene in housing market to ensure fair housing outcomes for flood victims

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NRRC protest this morning in Lismore. Photo Aslan Shand

Around 50 people gathered outside the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation’s (NRRC) office in Lismore this morning to call for action for flood victims. 

‘We are reclaiming your recovery eleven months on from the flood,’ said organiser Miriam Torzillo.

‘This is a gathering of people who are bringing our frustration to the NRRC. We are calling for transparency and socially just intervention by the NRRC.

‘Homes hang in the balance and the NRRC have not provided the basic answers so that we can move on with our lives.’

Speakers called for transparency and clarity around who was eligible for house buybacks, publication of the maps that identified the red zones etc and for the NRRC to engage in constructive consultation with the community.’

Miriam Torzillo at the NRRC protest this morning in Lismore. Photo Aslan Shand

People, not developers

Multiple speakers called for intervention in the housing market by the NRRC and government to ensure fair and equitable outcomes for residents, landowners and renters impacted by the floods.

‘We want the NRRC to intervene in the market. We want them to buy and develop the land so that the money is not going to land developers. So that we can keep communities and neighbourhoods together,’ said Ms Torzillo.

Harper Dalton at the NRRC protest this morning in Lismore. Photo Aslan Shand

Relocate Lismore houses

‘Many people are living back in their flood-affected homes,’ explained local Harper Dalton who is calling for houses that are currently in flood-impacted areas to be relocated. 

‘The most cost-effective way forward, and to keep communities together, is to relocate Lismore homes,’ said Harper. 

‘House relocation is a really important part of the process and we don’t need developers in control of our future. We need to be part of it.’ 

Lismore Councillor Adam Guise at the NRRC protest this morning in Lismore. Photo Aslan Shand

Lismore Councillor and Greens candidate for the state election Adam Guise told those gathered that, ‘We need a government and reconstruction corporation that not only take care of the physical and economic – but also the social and environmental issues.’

‘We are fighting for a community-led recovery. We don’t want an autocratic regime that’s top down. We don’t want Sydney bureaucrats telling us what we should do,’ he said.

‘We need safe, affordable land and relocation.’

Mr Guise highlighted the risks of people being handed money for a relocation or buyback but then not being able to afford a the subsequent relocation or being able to afford another house locally.

‘A year on and many people are still out of their houses,’ said Mr Guise.

‘It can’t be left to an open free market recovery. The free market has not delivered social or affordable housing for decades. We need the government to purchase land and facilitate land swaps, relocation and affordable and social housing that is out of the flood areas.’

Community consultation

‘Move them above the flood level,’ called Julia Melvin. 

‘Eleven months on and we wait and wait for an outcome. Lismore knows about floods. It knows about lending a hand – or a tinny. It is our community, our future. We are calling on the NRRC to explain why we are being excluded from this process.’

Trevor Acfield at the NRRC protest this morning in Lismore. Photo Aslan Shand

Speaker Trevor Acfield reiterated the lack of clear and transparent communication from the NRRC. 

‘There is no communication with the community. The NRRC have come here, gone into their offices and come up with a bit of a plan, but there has been no consultation with the community. There have been information sessions only. 

‘Many of these people come from outside the region and they really need to ask us what we want. We’ve been here a long time and we know what we want.’

‘I did speak to David Witherden about my concern over the lack of consultation and he agreed with me. He said that it was really difficult for a variety of reasons including they were just getting started. I pointed out that it was really important that the community was involved at and early stage of the policy development. 

‘He said “Yes” and that he was willing to consult with the community.’ 

But that is yet to happen said Mr Acfield. 

House raising was highlighted with Mr Acfield pointing out that in North Lismore, with eligible houses being raised 3.5m, ‘85 per cent of raised houses will flood inside again [in a similar flood to 2022]. 

‘We need land set aside, we need houses moved. We have got an opportunity to in this space. This needs to be done and we, as the community, need to be consulted.’

Lismore Councillor Elly Bird and the knitting Nannas at the NRRC protest this morning in Lismore. Photo Aslan Shand

Send 6,000 letters by the end of the week

Following the speakers, the mic was made available to affected people and flood-affected local Camilla called for the NRRC to send out 6,000 letters by the end of the week telling people who would be eligible for house buybacks, house raising, and retrofitting. 

‘They are not delivering in talk, action or outcomes,’ said Camila. 

In Queensland, where it flooded at the same time, there have been 180 offers of buybacks and 131 offers accepted,’ she said, 

‘There are people who are having their houses foreclosed on by banks in my street, parents who couldn’t afford Christmas presents for their kids and are struggling to put food on the table as they wait in limbo for the NRRC outcomes.’

Lismore Councillor, Elly Bird, told The Echo that, ‘the gathering today is very clearly showing that our community would like clearer information. 

‘People need the information to make clear decisions about their future. The Lack of information compounds the trauma from last year,’ she said.

Pot dinner

A follow up get together is taking place next Wednesday at 23 Newbridge Street, South Lismore at 5.30pm to look at the next steps to be taken. 

‘We will have a pot luck dinner and get organising,’ said Ms Torzillo. 

Call Ms Torzillo on 0404 593 312 for more information.


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5 COMMENTS

  1. Devastating, too much talk, not enough action. This needs to change asap. The mental health of an entire region is at stake and the long term consequences are extremely scary. Please please start this overdue process.

  2. A fair outcome for all flood victims means two things:
    1. Private dwellings are the private interests of individuals, so need to be dealt with by those private individuals at their private expense; and
    2. Taxpayer funds need to be spent on social housing, to be accessible to all based on need/means.

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