Scenic Rim residents offered hope with disaster recovery funding review

FIRE RELIEF: A burnt paddock at Tarome shows the devastation caused by bushfires in the Scenic Rim last summer. Photo: Larraine Sathicq
FIRE RELIEF: A burnt paddock at Tarome shows the devastation caused by bushfires in the Scenic Rim last summer. Photo: Larraine Sathicq

SCENIC Rim state MP Jon Krause says after the Black Summer bushfires some affected residents waited up to five months for disaster recovery assistance.

Mr Krause welcomed Wednesday's announcement that Australia's emergency management ministers would conduct a review of the jointly funded federal and state Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements following one of the most devastating natural disaster seasons in Australia's history.

He said there were a number of areas that could be improved in terms of getting the appropriate help to Scenic Rim residents, particularly those who suffered losses after bushfires ripped through the region last summer.

"One scope for improvement would be understanding the reality of our region, where many of our primary producers are not full time," Mr Krause said.

"They have other work as well but collectively these primary producers contribute significantly to our economy. In times of disaster they deserve to receive assistance too."

Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen said he commendedboth the state and federal governments for the decision and for "making this as a process-based decision, rather than a political one".

"The review of the previous National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements showed stepped improvements including streamlining some of the approval processes so that councils could respond to disasters more quickly and activate recovery earlier," Cr Christensen said.

"It wasn't so far back in history that no such programs existed and communities were left to deal with the recovery of disasters on their own, so the existence of such a program is a great thing for Australians to recognise.

"As a country we now face the reality that the complexity, diversity and frequency of disasters is increasing, and so this review... is critical to continuously improve the support that is available to our communities."

Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said the DRFA was being reviewed to ensure that assistance under the program was fair and equitable for Australians living in different states.

"The devastating 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires affected multiple states at the same time, however different types and levels of assistance were provided across each state," he said.

"The review will look into how each state applies the DRFA and whether the program should be adjusted to deliver more equitable, needs based, assistance for all Australians, regardless of where they live.

"Affected communities rightly expect that governments will act quickly following a disaster and provide recovery assistance as soon as possible."

Mr Krause said this approach would be good for the region.

"Minister Littleproud says the review would ensure assistance would be fair and equitable to all areas and this is appropriate because after the bushfires Queensland was left behind NSW in terms of rates relief, clean up costs and demolition costs," he said.

"I know our local area's issues and this was a concern to people affected by bushfires.

"I think there was some failure to bushfire recovery at the human level.

"I have had quite a bit of feedback... from people affected by the fires.

"The bureaucratic process was torturous for people who had already been through a traumatic event.

"The Department of Communities and the Disaster Recovery Team took weeks and in one case five months to provide assistance to a family that had no roof and no insurance.

"In this case it was a total failure in process by that agency."