Victorian communities miss out on disaster funding

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In an extraordinary move, the Andrews Government has refused disaster funding from the Federal Government, leaving desperate communities to fend for themselves.

It is a cruel twist for Victorian communities still recovering from last year’s flood damage – for those along the Murray River, access to the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) will be determined by which side of the river you reside.

DRFA funding is a cost share program between the Federal Government and State Governments, with the State then distributing to councils on application. Victoria is the only state to refuse the Federal offer of bringing the funding forward.

MAV President Cr David Clark said: "I am straight out angry, thinking the government doesn’t get the pain our affected communities are living through. It’s one thing to kick down on councils, but our only reason for being is to look after the people in our communities. Denying them this money is completely unacceptable.”

“The State Government must afford Victorian communities the same opportunities as those in other states to bounce back from floods. Its refusal of this funding is a devastating setback for every community already doing it tough.”

“Nine months on from the floods, roads are still severely damaged, people are still living in temporary accommodation and communities are dealing with high levels of stress and trauma. We know recovery is a slow process, but this decision prolongs the pain for even longer,” Cr Clark said.

“Individual councils are still facing a huge repair and recovery bill, with thousands of road and bridge repairs, as well as other community infrastructure projects through the DRFA program.”

“The State Government will, in time, pay exactly the same amount for these repairs to be completed. What it refuses to do is pay now to help communities recover in a timely manner.

“Recovery from serious flood damage doesn’t happen quickly, and it costs money. Victorian communities are still hurting from the devastating floods last October – there are 63 out of Victoria’s 79 councils eligible to make DRFA claims from these floods - and this news is heartbreaking for them,” Cr Clark said.

“We’re already behind the eight ball on DRFA funding, because the State Government won’t include a betterment fund to allow the upgrade of roads and essential infrastructure to a more disaster-resilient standard – as is the case in NSW and Queensland.”

“A number of councils have road and associated damage costs in excess of their total annual budget. Cashflow is a massive issue, and this decision only makes matters worse.”

“The Federal Authority – the National Emergency Management Agency of Australia – have stepped up to the plate and have provided a flexible approach to funding support, we now need the State Government to do the same.”


Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA)

  • The DRFA is a long established cost sharing arrangement between States/Territories and the Commonwealth applying to natural disaster and terrorist act recovery.
  • Under these arrangements, the state or territory government determines which areas receive assistance and what assistance is available to individuals and communities. These activities are then jointly funded by respective levels of government.
  • Measures may include:
  • personal hardship assistance
  • counter disaster operations e.g. sandbagging
  • the reconstruction of essential public assets, eg roads, bridges and culverts
  • the engagement of Community Recovery Officers to work with people experiencing personal hardship and distress
  • concessional loans or interest subsidies for small businesses and primary producers
  • transport freight subsidies for primary producers
  • loans and grants to voluntary non-profit organisations and needy individuals
  • community recovery funds
  • Sixty-three Victorian councils are eligible to make DRFA claims following the Oct 2022 floods
  • Claims relating to infrastructure are assessed by the Victorian Department of Transport and Planning and approved by Emergency Management Victoria
  • Claims relating to community recovery are overseen by Emergency Recovery Victoria
  • Current arrangements create uncertainty around funding and approvals, hence councils seek approvals first before engaging contractors to undertake works, slowing recovery times significantly (from months to years).