State grants to boost home resilience

One Mile Oval became a sea of brown during floods in February which inundated many homes.

Arthur Gorrie

Flood-hit Gympie region homeowners will have access to their share of a nation-leading $741 million Resilient Homes Fund, to help them upgrade, flood proof or voluntarily sell their properties back to the state.

It is, according to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, “the largest home resilience program of its kind ever to be delivered in Australia.”

Registration would allow affected home owners to access grants to raise, repair, retrofit or have their home voluntarily bought back, Ms Palaszczuk said.

“We can’t stop floods from occurring, but we can take steps to reduce their impact,” she said.

Her deputy, Steven Miles said Queensland was Australia’s most disaster-impacted state and flooding was the greatest risk.

“This isn’t just about building back, it’s about building back better,” Mr Miles said.

“We know from initial assessments following the South East Queensland floods that there were nearly 7000 homes with some degree of damage and more than 3600 of these were uninhabitable.

“Grants will be available to assist Queensland homeowners to repair their homes, retrofit them to incorporate flood resilient design and raise homes to reduce future flood impacts.”

Minister for Public Works Mick de Brenni said building back better meant incorporating resilient building design and materials to significantly reduce the effort, cost and time to help Queenslanders back into their homes now and in the future.

“The damage to homes from the rain-bomb event has been widespread and whilst homeowners have experienced different types of damage, every home can be re-built to be far less vulnerable to future flood events,” Mr de Brenni said.

“This is a nation-leading program, which is being designed to help those Queenslanders who’ve experienced the trauma of their home being flooded, the confidence they need to get their lives back to normal.

“We’re working with councils, industry and insurers, so the right assistance is provided to maximise the benefit to every affected homeowner.

“We’re now asking flood-affected Queenslanders within the eligible local government areas who are interested in a voluntary buy-back, house raising or retrofitting for resilience following the floods, to come forward, register their details and that will trigger the start of the process.”

State Recovery Coordinator Major General Jake Ellwood said the scheme would “give hope to people who’ve had their lives turned upside down and enhance the resilience of some of the state’s most vulnerable communities.”

The program will be delivered through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements, he said.

Grants will be available to help eligible homeowners repair or retrofit their homes to incorporate flood resilient design and materials, possibly including replacement of floor coverings with a water-resistant finish such as tiles or polished concrete and moving power outlets to above recognised flood levels.

Grants will be available to eligible homeowners to raise homes to reduce the impacts of future flood events by lifting living areas and rooms above the defined flood level.

In high-risk situations where repairing, retrofitting or raising are not considered suitable options, a voluntary buy-back of the residence will be considered.