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Common sense approach for flood damage recovery

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With councils across the state still counting the cost of the extensive damage to local road networks from the recent floods, they are applauding a change to Victoria’s application of the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements announced today.

Having consistently advocated for improved DRFA settings for more than a decade, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) strongly endorses the inclusion of day labour provisions within the disaster payment system. The MAV is also pleased to see the extension of time granted for flood emergency and reconstruction works.

The welcome policy change will allow the use of councils’ own staff to undertake initial repair of damaged infrastructure and will save time and money. Supply chain and construction material shortages, coupled with a high demand for contractors, has slowed repairs and increased costs.

Association President Cr David Clark said this issue has been a top priority for councils for some time.

“After a long period of MAV advocacy on the sector’s behalf, councils can now use their own crews for the immediate repair of damaged assets under a DRFA.”

“This is particularly important for rural and regional councils with less access to contractors – they can now get on with immediate repairs with funding certainty.

With destroyed and damaged roads still affecting every aspect of flood recovery across the state, the MAV will continue to call for further efficiencies to the DRFA to ensure this critical funding stream is available for what’s important, and not held up in administration costs.

One key change the MAV continues to call for is the implemented of a betterment fund within DRFA, allowing councils to better prepare for future disasters by building assets back to a higher standard than they had previously been.

“Victorian councils have looked on with envy with both New South Wales and Queensland Government’s including a betterment funds to allow councils to better prepare for future disasters,” Cr Clark explained.

“As climate change takes hold and natural disasters become more frequent and extreme, it is a logical, much-needed step to include a betterment fund. Without one, councils undertaking these repairs know they’re likely to be back in this position again when the next disaster strikes.”