Flood Recovery Overlooks Communities: VCOSS
Thursday, 28th April 2011 at 12:50 pm
Assistance for farmers in flood-affected Victoria is important, but the Victorian Government must also invest in community recovery, according to the Victorian Council of Social Services.
VCOSS says flood affected Victorian communities need a broad range of supports in addition to farming business assistance, which aren’t found in the latest flood recovery plan.
VCOSS CEO Cath Smith says the Victorian Government’s announcement of support for flood-effected irrigators is welcome but overlooks the need for investment in community recovery, particularly psychosocial supports.
Under the $21 million flood package recently announced by the Baillieu Government, $12.3 million will be made available to buy-back flood prone land or to pay compensation to flood affected farmers. $3.5 million will be spent on repairing levees damaged in the floods, and a further $5 million will be spent on flood recovery farm planning and case management for 700 flood affected irrigators.
Smith says the support package announced by the Baillieu Government is largely limited to irrigators, ignoring the effects of flooding on other community members, organisations and businesses not directly involved in irrigated agriculture.
She says further funding is needed to ensure that community facilities damaged in the floods are able to be fully restored – these facilities are essential for rural communities.
Smith says assistance is also required for local services such as neighbourhood houses, community health services and services for women and young people. These services are providing critical support for communities affected not just by recent flooding but by the preceding decade of drought.
She says previous emergencies have shown that early social support to affected individuals and communities is critical for recovery.
She says boosting the capacity of local governments to plan for and respond to emergencies, such as floods and bushfires, is an ongoing priority. Local governments need to be adequately resourced to work in partnership with both local community sector organisations and local communities to prepare for and respond to emergency events.