Federal Government mitigates the devastating effects of natural disasters

The Department of Transport and Regional Services has brought together a number of natural disaster relief and mitigation programmes in its Natural Disaster Management Section. An outline of the Federal Government’s initiatives in this area follows.

Flood Mitigation Measured

The Regional Flood Mitigation Programme assists State and Territory governments and local agencies in reducing the economic and social costs of flooding in rural towns, regional centres and outer metropolitan areas of Australia. Funding is provided in conjunction with State and Territory Governments and local agencies and is directed to priority, cost effective mitigation works and measures.

Since the programme was established in 1999, significant flood mitigation measures have been undertaken and over $23 million in Federal Government funding has been provided to worthwhile mitigation projects. The Federal Government will allocate a further $9.6 million to the Programme in 2003-04 and expressions of interest for suitable projects will be sought in late 2002.

Invitations are sent to local councils and other eligible organisations, and advertisements are placed in major newspapers.

A report released by the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics in June this year ‘Benefits of Flood Mitigation in Australia’ found that there are substantial benefits to be gained by implementing effective flood mitigation measures. The report reviewed five case studies covering land use planning, voluntary purchase of flood prone properties, building controls, road sealing and levee systems. The report significantly advances the Federal Government’s knowledge about savings that can be made through both structural and non structural measures.

It provides governments, agencies and stakeholders with a powerful tool to improve decision making about flood mitigation in Australia. Further information is available on the Department’s Regional Flood Mitigation Website at www.dotars.gov.au/regional/rfmp/index.htm

Natural Disaster Risk Management Studies Programme

The Federal Government encourages State, Territory and Local Governments to undertake worthwhile risk management studies to identify, analyse and evaluate risks from natural disasters. The Federal Government’s $3 million a year Natural Disaster Risk Management Studies Programme is also intended to stimulate the introduction of preventative measures in dealing with risks.

Up to a third of the costs of each study is funded by the Federal Government with State, Territory and Local Government providing the balance and jointly deciding how to share the funding. There are currently over 200 projects underway with Federal Government contribution of $6.4 million. Sixty-three projects recently received funding from the Federal Government worth $1.34 million under the 2002-03 funding round. These projects were due to commence after 1 July 2002.

Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements

In cases where disasters have an impact the Federal Government provides financial assistance to States and Territories to alleviate the financial burden of the unpredictable events. Disasters covered include bushfires, floods, storm, cyclones, earthquakes, storm surge and landslides. Further information is available on the Natural Disaster Risk Management Studies Programme and the Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements on the Department’s Website at www.dotars.gov.au/ndr/index.htm