The Northern Rivers Community Foundation has released its second flood research report, as part of a thorough four-year longitudinal study into flood recovery in the Northern Rivers not-for-profit and community sector, 12 months on from the devastating flooding events of February and March 2022. The study is supported by the Paul Ramsay Foundation.
The report, Research, Respond, Recover: A year on from disaster, highlights dual challenges of a slow recovery rate and a looming funding cliff. In response, NRCF has launched its appeal One Year On, and is accepting doantions.
The study asked the leaders of hundreds of Northern Rivers community organisations working on the ground, to rate how well their community and organisation had recovered from the disaster to date. This resulted in a community recovery rating of 4.8 out of 10, and an organisational recovery rating of 6.4 out of 10.
NRCF CEO Sam Henderson said the figures were alarming and evidenced the secondary impacts of a disaster in the Northern Rivers.
“Our study reveals reduced numbers of volunteers, increased demand for services, increased client complexity, one in four organisations still impacted by damaged premises, as well as exhaustion and trauma being felt by staff, clients and community are all contributing to this low recovery rate,” Mr Henderson said.
“This is further exacerbated by the looming funding cliff expected when much of the disaster funding finishes mid-2023, with around 60% or organisations we spoke to anticipating a funding gap,” he said.
Kyogle Family Support Services Program Manager Jade Bennett said disaster funding had allowed them to hire more staff to meet increased demand on their services.
“Our worry is that come August these extra supports will cease and it is evident that our community, like many others, will still be in crisis recovery,” Ms Bennett said.
To meet the huge ongoing need for support in the Northern Rivers, the NRCF has launched its fundraising appeal, One Year On – Recovery and Resilience for the Northern Rivers, and encourages anyone in the community and wider Australia who has the capacity to consider donating.
All funds raised will go to projects to aid the long-term recovery, resilience and preparedness of the region, through grant streams of Disadvantage; Mental Health and Wellbeing; Housing and Homelessness; Environment; Recovery and Resilience.
“Governments have earmarked funding for large infrastructure, commercial recovery, residential housing, and large-scale mental health projects. Beyond this, more is needed to support those place-based groups and organisations that make the Northern Rivers the wonderful community that it is,” Mr Henderson said.
The NSW 2022 Floods were the second largest flooding event in recorded history for the region, and the second most expensive disaster in Australian history, with an estimated $7.9 billion worth of damage to public infrastructure and at least $1.5 billion to residential properties. *
“What we’re now seeing is the long-term and secondary effects of these floods: things like complex mental health needs; chronic homelessness; strain on relationships and communities; infrastructure and service inadequacies, and so many other knock-on effects.
“We know the positive impact that funding long term projects can have for our communities’ resilience and also their preparedness for future disasters – we know it can change lives.
“We can all work together to build back our social fabric stronger than before – something that will help with recovery, but also build our resilience and mitigation for any future disasters in this region.”
The NRCF’s four-year longitudinal study, supported by The Paul Ramsay Foundation, will monitor flood impacts and recovery on the critical grassroots, charity, and volunteer sector in the Northern Rivers. This vital data will help drive an evidence-based recovery effort and bring awareness to the needs of the region at a local, state and national level.
* Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation 26 April 2023