Northern Rivers' voluntary home buy backs to start

Source(s): Australia - government

Around 2,000 homeowners in flood-prone areas of the Northern Rivers of New South Wales will now be eligible to raise, repair, retrofit or have their home voluntarily bought back, as part of a new $800 million program.

The Commonwealth and New South Wales Government joint funding will support residential homeowners impacted in the February-March 2022 floods, in the seven Local Government Areas of Ballina, Byron, Clarence Valley, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Tweed.

The voluntary buy-back scheme will be offered to Northern Rivers residents located in the most vulnerable areas where major flooding would pose a catastrophic risk to life.

The Northern Rivers Resilient Homes Fund package will also provide financial assistance of up to $100,000 for house raising or up to $50,000 for retrofitting for homeowners in areas where flood risk can be reduced by better building standards.

The New South Wales Government will provide $100 million to acquire land and open up new flood safe locations for future development, in partnership with the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation. The Corporation is currently conducting an expression of interest process to identify suitable parcels of land.

Eligible homeowners will be offered one of the three available measures, based on expert property assessments; flood impact severity data, safety risks, and potential future flood levels.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said that by retrofitting homes to make them more flood resilient, and moving those at most risk away from danger, communities can be safer during future flood events.

“We know that disasters are expected to become more frequent, and more severe due to climate change, and that’s why we’re working with the NSW Government to develop practical solutions to protect lives and livelihoods,” he said.

We know this repeated, relentless flooding can be emotionally and financially draining and we want communities to know we will be there to support them now, and as they recover.”

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the Resilient Homes Program would help Northern Rivers’ residents take further steps on the road towards recovery while also boosting community resilience in the long-term.

“I saw first-hand the devastation extreme flooding caused across the Northern Rivers and I hope this program provides relief for so many residents who have suffered for too long,” Mr Perrottet said.

“We are stepping up to provide options for residents to move out of harm’s way and protect themselves and their families but we cannot continue to build back as we have in the past.”

“We will work with the Northern Rivers community to ensure repairs, retrofitting and voluntary buy-backs are undertaken in a way that will better protects people and their homes from future flood events.”

Federal Minister for Emergency Management, Murray Watt, said both governments would continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the region on the long road to recovery.

“The Northern Rivers has been absolutely devastated by flood after flood,” Minister Watt said.

“We know that being prepared for future disasters is a huge boost when it comes to the damage and long-term recovery of the region. Investing in resilience measures in the home can significantly reduce the effort, cost and time to recover from disasters.

“I’m very pleased to be part of this program which gives Northern Rivers residents more options in their flood preparedness toolkit.”

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, Paul Toole, said offers to individual homeowners will be based on extensive analysis of the 2022 floods and expert advice on any subsequent disasters.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to building back and this program offers multiple measures to help residents stay in the region in homes that can better withstand future floods,” Mr Toole said.

NSW Minister for Flood Recovery, Steph Cooke, said the Resilient Homes Program complements the Resilient Land Program, which is identifying Northern Rivers’ locations that could be considered for future developments.

“We want to ensure residents who do choose to move are able to relocate into areas where there is community infrastructure and amenities so that they can start their lives anew, not from scratch,” Ms Cooke said.

The Flood Property Assessment Program provides a first point of entry, with registered homeowners automatically considered for the Resilient Homes Program.

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