The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has welcomed the release of guidelines for the $150 million community infrastructure component of the Commonwealth’s $600 million Preparing Australia Program.
The Program is focused on disaster preparedness and responds to recommendations of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements aimed at better preparing communities for more severe and frequent disasters.
The release of the funding guidelines comes 13 months after the Royal Commission’s report.
Under the “Preparing Australian Communities – Local” component of the program, local governments and communities can apply for grants from $20,000 to $10 million for projects that will help them better prepare for future disasters and lessen their impacts.
ALGA President Linda Scott said the opportunity to enhance the resilience of essential local infrastructure and boost post-COVID economic recovery would be welcomed by all communities.
“Investing in betterment funding saves communities and governments millions of dollars in the long term by ensuring that our community infrastructure can better withstand natural disasters,” Cr Scott said.
“By funding local governments, the Federal Government is investing in our communities who receive additional benefits through the creation of new jobs, local economic growth, lower insurance premiums, and faster reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”
Cr Scott said consultation with ALGA and its members was an excellent example of the Commonwealth and the sector working together to ensure maximum impact for local governments and their communities.
Grants will be open to all local government areas at high risk of disasters (not just the 110 disaster-declared ones) and ALGA welcomes the Commonwealth’s decision not to require cash co-contributions by councils.
Projects under $100,000 will require no co-contribution, nor will planning and awareness-raising projects. For infrastructure projects over $100,000, local government’s co-contribution can be in kind.
“There is a mismatch between the amount of local government infrastructure exposed to climate change risks, and the resources we have to effectively manage these risks,” Cr Scott said.
“Preparing for natural disaster events is a shared responsibility, and we look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure the Royal Commission’s disaster risk reduction recommendations are fully implemented.”