Try making sense of assistance

ONE of the frustrations expressed by people in communities affected by disasters is the confusing nature of the assistance programs available.

For people in areas of Queensland regularly impacted by natural disasters like cyclones, the processes for getting help after an event are better known.

But the scope of last summer’s disasters are so great that, for many, it is the first time they have to navigate this complicated process.

Finding out where to go for help can be overwhelming, so I want to spend time unscrambling the “help egg”.

The cost of rebuilding Queensland post-floods and cyclone Yasi will be more than $5 billion. The Commonwealth and state governments have an assistance program called the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangement (NDRRA).

The scheme is funded at 75% by the Commonwealth and 25% from the State Government. The Federal Government has already put $2 billion towards reconstruction. Much of the money needed for reconstruction of Queensland’s public infrastructure will come from this scheme.

The NDRRA splits into four broad categories:

Category A – immediate emergency assistance to ease personal hardship as a direct result of a natural disaster. It pays for things such as emergency accommodation and food, as well as Counter Disaster Operations like sandbags or tarpaulins.

Category B – fixes what was broken. It pays for repairs to public assets like major roads and helps businesses back on their feet through grants and special loans. It also helps people have essential services like gas, power and sewerage fixed in their homes.

Category C – community recovery from an holistic perspective. Providing grants and loans to businesses, primary producers and not-for-profit organisations.

Category D – supporting eligible Category C applicants who have suffered extreme damage by providing access to concessional loans and grants. It targets industries significant to local communities, where prolonged closure would have a huge impact.

The government has also announced programs like the $315 million Local Councils package and the $24.5 million Sports Fightback Fund which will pay for the reconstruction of water treatment plants and community sporting facilities.

And yet, there will be others still, that won’t fit in any of the categories. That’s where donations will make all the difference. The authority is also managing a donor-matching program where pledges will be matched to communities most in need. You know your communities best. Stay engaged in the debate about ideas and above all, put your efforts into your community’s recovery.

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