Natural disaster resilience funding must also focus on communities and people most at risk

ACOSS welcomes the establishment of the new National Recovery and Resilience Agency and urges the Government to ensure funding is also allocated to support people most at risk of natural disasters.

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said: “The establishment of a National Recovery and Resilience Agency is necessary to enable Australia to better deal with more frequent and intense extreme weather being fueled by the climate crisis.

“It will be important the Agency and funding not only has a focus on physical infrastructure, but also investing in community leaders, building the resilience of people and communities, especially people experiencing financial and social disadvantage.

“Natural disasters disproportionately impact people on lower incomes because they have fewer resources to cope, adapt and recover.

“Without support for people experiencing financial and social disadvantage, and the community service organisations and leaders that support them, natural disasters will continue to entrench and drive disadvantage.

ACOSS is therefore calling for the Federal Government to also provide funding to:

• Better meet need of people impacted by Natural Disasters, including increasing the disaster recovery payment and allowance from $1000 per adult, and $400 per child to $3000 per adult and $1000 per child (the payments have not be increased by a single dollar since 2006); and the disaster recovery allowance to $475 per week;

• Empower communities to build their resilience and lead disaster recovery efforts, including establishing community lead Community Resilience Hubs; and

• Strengthen the resilience of the community sector organisations.

ACOSS is also calling on the Government to establish a review on insurance affordability to look at the impacts of climate change and rising levels of financial difficulties; including options for ensuring insurance coverage for people on low incomes.

Dr Goldie said: “Access to affordable insurance is at crisis point. Insurance premiums are escalating and too many people, particularly people on low incomes, find themselves under-insured or not insured.

“Without affordable insurance more and more people will face prolonged financial hardship from the loss of their home and contents. Moving is already not an option for some and will be less effective as the risks of climate change impacts are increasing significantly in most regions in Australia.”

The establishment of the Australian Climate Service, to collect better climate data to inform infrastructure decisions is also welcome and we urge the data collection to be extended to include a social vulnerability index. This would help identify where communities and people may need additional support to build resilience, prepare, respond and recover from disasters.