Local communities hit by major disasters, drought and other hazards will be supported by a new national agency dedicated to coordinating locally-led recovery and driving efforts to reduce the impacts of future large-scale disasters.

Member for Barker, Tony Pasin, welcomed the establishment of the new National Recovery and Resilience Agency, part of the major Disaster Resilience Reform package recently unveiled by the Australian Government in response to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.

“Floods, bushfires, cyclones and drought have always been a part of the Australian landscape, and in recent times hazards like the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly impacted our way of life,” Mr Pasin said.

“It’s time to build on what works well and have the courage to do things differently where changes are needed. This starts today.”

“We can be better prepared, and that’s what the National Recovery and Resilience Agency will help drive – for our community and those like it around the country.”

“With staff based locally in the regions, the new agency will coordinate and align Australia’s national capability to build resilience, better prepare for natural disasters, and recover from all hazards.”

The new National Recovery and Resilience Agency, led by Coordinator-General the Hon Shane Stone AC QC, immediately brings together the former National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency and the National Bushfire Recovery Agency. It builds on the strong foundation laid by these past agencies, and the close relationships already forged with communities and across jurisdictions, sectors and different levels of government.

The Agency will provide support to Emergency Management Australia during the immediate relief phase after major disasters, and will play a critical role in the recovery phase for severely impacted communities whilst working to design and revise policies and programs that will future proof Australians against major disasters. From 1 July, the Agency will incorporate the disaster risk reduction and recovery functions from the Department of Home Affairs and its regional network will expand to include Rural Financial Counsellors, who are currently managed the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

“Existing recovery efforts continue – there’s still money flowing from bushfire recovery, flood support and drought relief, and new grants are on the horizon through the $600 million Preparing Australia Program to boost community disaster resilience,” Mr Pasin said.

“I’m pleased to see this big step forward in disaster reform, and the new investments that support it. I look forward to working with the National Recovery and Resilience Agency into the future.”

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said in line with its guiding principle of locally-led recovery and a strong on-the-ground presence, the National Recovery and Resilience Agency will continue supporting communities affected by the 2019 North Queensland Monsoon Trough, the 2019-20 Black Summer Bushfires and drought.

From 1 July, the Agency will incorporate the disaster risk reduction and recovery functions from the Department of Home Affairs and will take on responsibility for management of the Rural Financial Counselling Program, complementing the Agency’s on the ground network of regional officers.

“Our priority is ensuring people who’ve been through terrible events like flood, bushfire, and the enduring drought are supported in the days, weeks and years ahead,” Minister Littleproud said. The significant reforms outlined by the Australian Government also included:

· Disaster recovery scenario training to help regional communities prepare for high-risk hazards as part of a $4.5 million National Capability Package. The package also comprises accredited training for people working in disaster recovery and two pilot Resilience Hubs to coordinate regional training and capability development across all levels of government when responding to a natural disaster.

·  The new Australian Climate Service, which will build on the expertise of the Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia, CSIRO and the Australian Bureau of Statistics to give new information and insights to understand future climate and natural disaster risks and ensure we make better decisions on things like what to build and where.