Supported by The Paul Ramsay Foundation, this report, Research, Respond, Recover: A year on from disaster, takes a deep dive into the recovery progress and ongoing disaster impacts within the Northern Rivers not-for-profit and grassroots community sector. The report is the second in a four-year longitudinal study being carried out by NRCF, following the devastating flooding events of February and March 2022 in the Northern Rivers.

Over 12 months on from the 2022 disaster, many individuals and communities are still working on their recovery, feeling exhausted, struggling with trauma, and in need of support. Response by place-based charities has faced numerous challenges including a significant reduction in volunteer numbers and workforce, employees struggling with flood recovery, mental health pressures, and a funding squeeze. As this report reveals, not-for-profit organisations are struggling to meet increased demand on their services.

NRCF’s four-year research project helps unpack the issues and conditions impacting community and grassroots recovery from disaster. It builds an evidence-base for support of not-for-profit organisations and increases awareness of the need at local, state and national levels.


Housing and homelessness have been key issues for the community organisations we support and the communities they serve.

Following the 2022 February and March floods, when these natural disasters displaced some 1,300 people across the region, NRCF commissioned community research to delve into the housing and homeless crisis from a whole-of-community perspective. The research aims to understand the issues post-flood context, changed conditions and urgency, and build shared visions, solutions, and basis for action.

Regional housing markets will be unable to survive widespread property losses, such as those that resulted from the 2022 flooding disaster. The research, co-designed by our Northern Rivers community, generated almost 100 insights and 80 solutions. This presents a key opportunity for cross-sector collaboration to collectively focus their expertise and resources on this complex issue.

We invite you to review the challenges and potential solutions outlined and consider where you or your organisation may have skills or capabilities to collaborate in progressing solutions.


Research, Respond and Recover: NRCF’s response to the February and March 2022 Disaster

The February and March 2022 flooding events – when numerous rainfall and river height records were broken across the region – has changed the face of our community in many ways. It was immediately clear to NRCF, in the aftermath of the floods, that the impact would be widespread, significant, and long lasting. Our long-standing connection with community organisations across the region provided us with extensive insight into the impact on our diverse communities.

In the week following the second flood disaster, the NRCF engaged a team of volunteers in a research project, contacting community organisations across the region at a local level to understand the impact and the role the Foundation would be able to play in the immediate and ongoing response and recovery of the region. Our findings are outlined in the flood impact report.

We continue to work closely with organisations across the region, supporting the important work that they are doing in the recovery space. Our research into the ongoing recovery and needs of our community also continues, and we will share further findings as they emerge.


The Northern Rivers is a diverse region, home to over 300,000 people. There’s a lot to love, but we’ve been with faced many challenges too. This Vital Signs report is a snapshot of community vitality and resilience.

The report is a community check-up tool used by community foundations around the world to measure the vitality of a community and support action towards improving collective quality of life. It uses publicly available data and identifies significant trends in a range of areas critical to quality of life for community.

Vital Signs Northern Rivers NSW 2022 highlights the strengths, challenges and needs across the seven Local Government Areas in these key areas:
Housing & Homelessness
Education & Employment
Healthy & Resilient communities
Environment & Sustainability

These reports are designed to be conversations starters, to allow local communities to investigate deeper matters of significance to them.