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Lismore News

Responding to a humanitarian disaster

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Janelle and Perrottet Lismore street walk

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

Lismore News

The Samson is on! Our Kids

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Our Kids

The Samson is on!

The Lismore Samson Fitness Challenge is on 1-2 March at Hepburn Park in Goonellabah.

Now in its fourteenth year, the Lismore Samson – Powered by NBN News continues to gather momentum and competitors to help raise funds for Our Kids to help sick children stay local when needing medical care.

The Samson starts with the Samson Solo on Friday night at 5:30 pm. On Saturday, 2 March, the events will include the Teen Sprint, Samson Kids, and the Samson Team event.
The Samson – Powered by 9 NBN News is a team event; each team of four people will complete grueling challenges including strength activities, running, swimming, and an outdoor obstacle course.

Everyone is welcome to come and cheer the more than 500 competitors, with the first wave of Samson competitors beginning at 7:00 am and the last starting at 12:30 pm, starring The Armidale School (TAS).

Competition among the Elite Men is fierce this year, as they race to take out the title from 11:00 am onwards.

Samson Kids is a highlight for our under 12s, with the course sponsored by Conlon Bros Earth Moving and Sea & Sky Sensory Co.

Samson Kids has its own obstacle course, run by Mr Brad from Fitness Kidz. There is an inflatable jumping castle and climbing wall from Northern Rivers Jumping Castles, and volunteers from the Summerland Christian College will help Samson Kids run smoothly. Samson Kids costs $10 for unlimited time on the obstacle course and jumping castle, while the climbing wall is an extra $5.

Lismore’s local Army Reserve unit, the 41st Battalion Royal New South Wales Regiment (41 RNSWR), will be onsite helping to marshal on the day along with more than 120 volunteers.
The GSAC Health Expo along with the Southern Cross University Recovery Zone will ensure all competitors are looked after.

Samson Eat Street will cater to the hungry bellies, with the Amici food van, Boost Juice, and the Norths Baseball Club cooking up a storm with a BBQ.
For more information, please call 0438 417 085 or simply join us on the day.

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Lismore News

Lismore Two Years On

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Lismore Two Years On

Two Years On

As we come to the two-year anniversary of the disaster that struck the Northern Rivers, we want to take a moment to recognise the significance of the journey we have all been on together. If this day has arrived and you still have a way to go we hope that you know that an impact this big isn’t something that is easily recovered from. If you haven’t bounced back that’s totally normal and you aren’t alone.

Lismore Two Years On

Lismore Two Years On

It’s also normal for big emotions to come up at a time like this so we encourage you to reach out to friends, to family or to a service like Lifeline (13 11 14) if you feel like it would help to check in with someone. You don’t need to sit with this alone, there are people who can support you.

We hope that you can find space to go slowly this week, and that if you need to you can take some time out. Turn off your social media, go for a walk, talk to a friend, have a nap, eat some good food. Take some time for self-care, and for caring for each other.

Recovery takes time, so let’s look after each other as we move through this week, and all the weeks that come after it.

Resilient Lismore is here for the long haul because this is our community: our staff and volunteers are from this community. We love it, we are here to help the people we live alongside, and we are committed to helping our region not just to survive but to thrive.

If you would like to spend some time us and with others in our community we are hosting an event this Saturday, 2nd of March at Riverside Park.

Sat 2nd March
‘Two Years On’
10am – 2.30pm
Riverside Park
Victoria St, Lismore (near boat ramp and dog park)

It’s a day to come together for reflection and acknowledgement of the challenges we are facing, the journey we have ahead of us and the strength of our community. There will also be great music and food, shady trees to sit under and relaxing activities for the whole family. We’ve come a long way in the last two years and this is a day to spend some time together to recognise that.

Activities include:
River Walk led by Rhoda Roberts, a ceremony at 10.30am
Tribute to tradies & home rebuilders
Dance performance & workshops
Dear River: listen to community’s letters
Art & Craft activities
Games & play spaces
BYO picnics BBQ, coffee & snacks available for purchase.
Reusable coffee cups & water bottles encouraged!

Presented by Resilient Lismore, in collaboration with many community organisations, and supported by Lismore City Council.

Please see the Facebook event for updates. https://www.facebook.com/events/281245464985541

Lismore Two Years On

Lismore Two Years On

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Lismore News

Social Futures welcomes the first Resilient Lands project but calls for more land and social housing targets

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CEO Tony Davies from Social Futures - Resilient Lands Program

Social Futures welcomes the first Resilient Lands project but calls for more land and social housing targets

 

Social Futures has welcomed the announcement of the first major Resilient Lands project to be delivered under the $100 million Resilient Lands Program but is keen to see the release of more land (under the program) and social housing targets.

Southern Cross University, Landcom (a state government agency) and the NSW Reconstruction Authority have signed an agreement to deliver more than 400 homes in East Lismore. The land is expected to come onto the market in 2026.

“This is a great first step,” said Social Futures CEO Tony Davies, “but of course we’d like to see the other post-flood land projects developed and delivered as soon as possible.”

The Northern Rivers will mark the second anniversary of unprecedented flooding that badly damaged more than 6,000 homes on February 28.

“Social Futures is also calling on the government to set targets for affordable and social housing on each land project, so that the working people who serve the Northern Rivers – nurses, tradesmen, police officer and teachers – can afford to buy a home in this beautiful region,” Mr Davies said.

“In London, new developments have a requirement for 50%. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild our community and ensure we have the right mix of housing for people on low-incomes, working people and also the tree-changers arriving from cities with more generous budgets.

CEO Tony Davies from Social Futures - Resilient Lands Program

CEO Tony Davies from Social Futures

“In short there needs to be a mix of housing so no one is left out in the cold.”

Mr Davies said the Northern Rivers Resilient Land Strategy, developed last year, cited that some 7800 new dwellings would be needed to accommodate people most impacted by the 2022 floods.

“We’ve long been waiting for this first announcement of land, but we are glad it’s out because the people of the Northern Rivers need certainty,” he said.

“The East Lismore project includes a 20% affordable housing target and land is also set aside for people to relocate homes.

“I would have liked to see a higher target for affordable housing and a definite target for social housing, because this region has about a 30%-plus shortfall in social housing compared to the state average.

“The Northern Rivers needs more housing close to services and public transport, and we need higher density housing.

“We are also hoping the federal Housing Australia Future Fund will finance much needed social and affordable housing for the Northern Rivers. This fund needs to target regional areas in acute housing needs, such as northern New South Wales.”

 

For more local Lismore news, click here.

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