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Lismore News

Responding to a humanitarian disaster

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Janelle and Perrottet Lismore street walk
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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

Rescue, Recovery, Rebuild, Adapt and Prepare: responding to a humanitarian disaster

By Janelle Saffin MP State Member for Lismore

 I RECENTLY made a detailed submission to the independent 2022 NSW Flood Inquiry Commissioners Professor Mary O’Kane AC and Mick Fuller APM, copying in the Legislative Council Committee’s inquiry into the flood response as well.

I’ve stated to NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet that he must accept the recommendations the Commissioners’ Independent Inquiry makes sight unseen.

Floods will happen again but preparedness is key.  We need to now create a model of adaption to disaster preparedness that addresses risk, structure and cognition that guides preparedness.  This requires skills, knowledge and attitude, and a total reorientation of how business is done.  The structure is hierarchical and it needs to be task oriented.  Everyone has a position but it is not clear who has a task, to put it in basic terms.  The framework described in the NSW Government’s own submission to the Legislative Council inquiry says it all.  Lots of framework but little else.

The word ‘unprecedented’ has been bandied about a lot and has become code for it was ‘unpredictable’. Therefore, ‘we could not have been prepared’. This is erroneous at best and an abrogation of responsibility at worst. NSW Government’s public agencies could have been better prepared, and part of that means working alongside the community so that our preparedness coalesces.

The people did prepare to be inundated according to the flood warnings officially received, but by the time the warning came that the flood was much larger than the 2017 flood, it was too late to do much, let alone evacuate.  People were trapped in their homes, in ceilings, on roofs and in the streets. Businesses that had lifted well above the flood warnings and earlier large flood levels were gutted.  Farmers lost massive amounts of stock, and soil, and suffered landslips as did many landholders and villages, cutting off access.

Tragically, five people lost their lives.

The agencies charged with rescue and recovery were barely prepared for ‘what was’ let alone ‘what if’.  The latter is a fundamental disaster preparedness principle. The tragedy that unfolded speaks to this. It was not within their contemplation. That is the NSW State Emergency Service, 000, and Resilience NSW, and therefore the NSW Government.

Locals with boats came out in droves to be told by the State Emergency Service not to enter the water, but thank God they ignored this exhortation, an edict without authority, that would have potentially led to more deaths. They acted to help save our lives. If preparing for ‘what if’ had been done, the State Emergency Service would have been able to utilise community rescue or our Tinnie Army as they are affectionately known.

There is a complete disconnect between what the NSW Government outlines its responsibilities are, how NSW Government’s public agencies carry out its responsibilities, and what happened here on the ground.

I make many recommendations in my submission but the NSW State Emergency Service must have a fundamental rethink about what their role is, what their resources are, and how to effect rescues. There needs to some overarching rescue body that focuses purely  on that and how to incorporate all resources, including community, and that is the role of the State Rescue Board of New South Wales, but not if Resilience NSW is at the helm.

The rescue was virtually a non-response, despite the wonderful efforts of local SES volunteers.

The catastrophic flood of 28 February 2022 decimated homes, businesses, farms, lands, rivers, and people’s state of being, only to be followed by the 30 March 2022 major flood. The magnitude of the impact is overwhelming, continuous and uncertain. It covers physical, economic, emotional and environmental.

The Northern Rivers requires a comprehensive flood recovery package if there is to be any hope for an estimated 14,500 internally displaced persons living in temporary housing, caravans or tents. Many of them were denied financial assistance after up to 4000 homes were deemed uninhabitable.

Thousands of inundated businesses are still boarded up across the region with proprietors and landlords pondering their futures. Thousands of employees are facing uncertainty and insecurity. I am told that an Economic assessment has been done but it is yet to see the light of day. That is wrong, as it should be in the public domain.

To move from these extreme conditions, we need to start the discussion on how Lismore will be reimagined and transformed into a city that is sustainable. Murwillumbah and other towns as well where needed. I like many have a great vision for the region’s rebuild but we need the plan and the infrastructure to support it.

We can and we must ‘build back better’, as I first stated to the Premier while we trudged around muddy streets in the immediate aftermath of the flood. I said that is the frame and we start there.

My full submission is expected to be published this week. Go to:

www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/listofcommittees/Pages/committee-details.aspx?pk=277

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Lismore News

Terania Street Reopening to Light Vehicles Only

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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

Terania Street Reopening to Light Vehicles Only

 

After a closure lasting over four months, Terania Street in Lismore is set to reopen to light vehicles starting from late Friday 21 June, pending favourable weather conditions. This reopening follows the implementation of traffic calming measures aimed at preventing further damage to the rail-over-road bridge caused by oversized vehicles.

  • Traffic Calming Measures:
    • New measures include speed humps, a reduced speed limit of 25 km/h, restricted lane width, traffic islands, and surveillance cameras. These are designed specifically to slow down light vehicles and restrict heavy vehicles (over 4.5 tonnes) from using Terania Street near the rail bridge.
  • Purpose of Measures:
    • The installation aims to prevent future damage to the bridge, which necessitated its closure between Tweed and Peate streets since February 7.
  • Community Impact and Appreciation:
    • Transport for NSW, through Director Region North Anna Zycki, expressed gratitude to residents and businesses for their patience during the closure period. They continue to work towards a permanent solution for the bridge’s sustainability.
  • Heavy Vehicle Detour:
    • Heavy vehicles are advised to use a detour via Wilson Street, Elliott Road, and Ballina Road until further notice. Residents needing access to or from Peate Street should detour via Pine, Crane, and Tweed streets.
  • Heritage Council Approval:
    • Transport for NSW has received approval from the NSW Heritage Council to remove the Terania Street rail-over-road bridge. They are currently addressing the consent conditions and will inform the community about the commencement of this work.
  • Compliance and Safety:
    • New signage, including ‘No right turn’ signs at Peate Street, has been installed to guide vehicles and ensure compliance with the new traffic conditions.

For ongoing updates and details, residents and road users are encouraged to stay informed through Transport for NSW communications channels.

This reopening marks a significant step in restoring normal traffic flow while safeguarding the historic bridge structure from further damage caused by inappropriate vehicle use.

 

For more local Lismore news, click here.

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Lismore News

No early education care places in ‘childcare desert’

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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

No early education care places in ‘childcare desert’

 

By Samantha Elley

Rachael Lane and Jaclyn Pilbeam are two young mums who are finding it difficult to navigate the lack of childcare spaces in the Lismore area.

Because she was unable to find childcare for her two-year-old daughter, Sophie, Rachael does shiftwork at night, packing shelves, then takes over at home so her husband can go to work during the day.

Jaclyn was luckier in that she was able to find a place for her 13-month-old daughter, Evie,  but she had to take extreme action.

“We had our daughter Evie on a daycare (list) before she was even born,” she said.

“She is still on waiting lists, as Evie goes to daycare that is 20-30 minutes from our house.

“It’s not ideal for our family. I need to go to work. I’d love to stay at home with my children but it’s just not an option for me.”

Ms Pilbeam said the cost of living meant she had to work, but not only that, her time at work helped her as well.

“I am a better mum when I work,” she said.

“I am quite happy to send my child to daycare, although it’s not my first option. It works for me and it works for my family.

“We need those options available in our area for mums like me.”

Ms Pilbeam said that the waiting lists in Lismore for childcare is on average 200 young ones.

Isabel McLennan of The Learning Cottage in Lismore and Wollongbar confirmed the numbers.

“I’ve got 300 families on both waiting lists,” she said.

“That’s 600 children that we can’t supply places for.”

Another issue, especially since the 2022 flood, is the need for quality early childhood educators, according to Mitch Hutchinson of Kyogle Early Learning.

“To fill those spots with quality educators is also a big issue in this area,” he said.

“To attract and retain high quality early childhood teachers in the area where there’s zero rentals (and) high cost of living area is really hard for the award wages they get paid.”

The opposition is calling for the government to address the crisis for young families.

“This is a big problem across our country,” said Angie Bell, Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education.

“We are looking at more flexibility and choice for regional families that currently do not have access to early learning.”

Minister Bell said the issue seemed more acute in Lismore, due to the flood crisis, but it was an issue across the country.

“There are 9 million Australians who live in a childcare desert and what that means is there are three children waiting for every place available.”

Minister Bell said the Labor government needed to step up and deliver more for regional families.

“They spent $4.7 billion on their Cheaper Childcare Bill and all they’ve delivered is zero places for regional Australians,” she said.

“Fees have gone up by 7% in less than six months and so families are paying more, which means they have to work longer hours.”

And while Minister Bell was unable to reveal the childcare policy of the Coalition, more would be revealed closer to the next election.

“What we want to see is flexibility and choice for families,” she said.

A new report from the Centre for Policy Development was released last week and it recommended bold reforms to ensure universal early education and care for all children.

Ten key reforms were suggested in the Growing Together: A future universal early childhood education and care system for Australia report.

These included  ensuring all children had access to a minimum of three days of early childhood education and care a week at low or no cost.

“Three days is perfect,” said Jaclyn.

“It feels like a happy medium. I feel like I can give more to my children.

“It’s good socialisation for the kids and you’ve still got four days with your children at zero dollar rate.”

 

For more local Lismore news, click here.

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Lismore News

Soldiers to March into Lismore: Freedom of Entry Parade

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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

Soldiers to March into Lismore: Freedom of Entry Parade

 

Soldiers from the esteemed 41st Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment, based in Lismore, are set to perform a stirring Freedom of Entry Parade into the heart of the Lismore CBD on Saturday, June 22nd, 2024.

Led by the commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Danial Healy, the ceremonial parade will feature up to 200 soldiers from the Northern Rivers region, accompanied by a military marching band. The event will commence at 1:00 pm on Magellan Street, proceeding through the city streets before concluding at Memorial Gardens on Molesworth Street around 2:00 pm.

This symbolic procession will see the soldiers donning their full regalia, showcasing the esteemed traditions of the battalion. Superintendent Scott Tanner, the Richmond PD District commander, and Mayor of Lismore, Councillor Steve Krieg, will formally challenge the soldiers’ right of entry into the city as they halt along the route.

Lieutenant Colonel Healy emphasised the significance of exercising the battalion’s Freedom of Entry, underscoring the close ties between the soldiers and the local community. He highlighted the battalion’s pivotal role in the response to the 2022 floods, reaffirming their commitment to serving the community.

The Freedom of Entry Parade holds historical significance, rooted in military tradition and medieval history. It represents the highest honour bestowed upon the Australian Defence Force by a city, symbolizing the enduring bond between the military and the local community.

The parade not only serves as a ceremonial spectacle but also as an opportunity for the soldiers to deepen their connections with the City of Lismore. As a prelude to the lantern parade, this event promises to be a captivating display of unity and respect, commemorating the rich heritage of the 41st Battalion.

 

For more local Lismore news, click here.

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