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Byron Shire
September 26, 2023

Join the push for promised govt flood support

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Disappointed in the one-year performance of the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation (NRRC)?

Flood-affected residents, who claim they were misled by the government corporation, have launched a NSW Parliamentary petition, calling for more funding, correct mapping, and quicker action for those who applied in good faith for flood assistance.

Just 500 signatures are needed for the petition to be tabled in NSW Parliament, currently there are 290 already backing the petition. 

As previously reported, the NSW Labor government reneged on promises, made prior to winning office in March 2023, that $1.5 billion would be allocated for the Resilient Homes Program.

Misleading the community

The government corporation tasked with flood recovery, NRRC, also misled the community by creating new maps which did not reflect the 2022 flood. And because of the corporate status of the newly formed NSW Reconstruction Authority (which subsumed the NRRC), there is no transparency around how the initial $750 million has been spent.

Spearheading the petition is Main Arm Disaster Recovery Inc President, Richard Hughes. 

He says that he and and his family have not been able to access their property owing to a massive landslide on the land on February 28, 2022. He told The Echo, ‘More than 17 months later, we have had to lodge a consumer complaint to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority against our insurer, and we now find that the NRRC flood maps do not include our property, along with many others across the Northern Rivers’. 

The first and most important step

He told The Echo that NSW premier, Chris Minns, ‘needs to give us confidence that the full $1.5 billion will be funded. This is the first and most important step to restore people’s faith in the process of the initial offering’.

With an appeal process for rejected applications now underway, Hughes questions why flood-affected applicants, some of whom are still traumatised, should be forced into becoming an appellant.

‘It’s just wrong’, he says. ‘Will there be 4,000 appeals to handle? How is that an appropriate response? The original applicants that have not been approved yet need to  be provided some respect here, and again a simple solution is to just appoint a dedicated case manager to each applicant that has been given a two minute “not approved” phone call, rather set up this cumbersome and time wasting process of commentary and appeals. 

‘The Flood Inquiry was clear in saying that those flood-affected should be treated with respect. The NRRC’s conduct is unnecessary psychological abuse.

Psychological abuse 

‘Also, the criteria around appeals is not even established. It’s a mess. This needs to be resolved without too much conflict.

‘The Qld government has done a lot better with their flood recovery efforts, so there is a model for this’.

Hughes also says, ‘There should be community representation on the NRRC and NSW Reconstruction Authority decisions panel  – this would help to resolve these issues’.

‘Our real target is to hit 10,000 signatures so that the voice of the Northern Rivers community is heard loud and clear in the NSW parliament. So if you, your friends and family have been affected please give the petition your approval’.

Those seeking help with navigating the government’s complex and confusing flood assistance packages can call the Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre on 6621 1066.  

To sign the petition, visit the Main Arm Disaster Recovery website at madr.org.au, and follow the link to the petition direct or alternatively follow this link: https://tinyurl.com/2p88n4rs.

Another similar parliamentary petition can be found at https://tinyurl.com/3v379d2v.

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