What are we asking for?
A commitment to include community infrastructure that is publicly accessible and owned and local government waste, water and wastewater assets under Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
Why is it important?
Under the current Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA), essential public assets – such as roads and road infrastructure, bridges, tunnels, culverts, public hospitals, public schools, public housing, police and fire stations, levees, and stormwater infrastructure – that are directly damaged by an eligible disaster may be reconstructed to their pre-disaster function.
However, many community assets such as sporting and recreational facilities are not considered “essential” public assets by the Commonwealth and are not covered by joint federal and state Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).
Council libraries, halls and sports facilities play an important role in community wellbeing and connection. These assets are also used as evacuation centres, refuges, and places where people can access information during natural disasters.
Repairing damaged community and recreational facilities is an important component of disaster recovery, which helps restore social and community networks. It also helps the economic recovery and disaster resilience of local communities.
How would it support our communities?
Several much-loved community assets in the Bega Valley Shire were lost in the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires, including the Kiah and Wandella community halls.
Halls are not covered under current Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA), and this left the local community little option but try to raise restoration funds themselves.
The money raised was never going to be adequate for full rebuilds, however. Recognising the importance of halls that support local communities now and into the future, the Bega Valley Shire Council agreed to contribute to the rebuild and apply for grant funding.
This was ultimately provided by the NSW Government, but delays in accessing funding contributed to cost escalations.
After community consultations in 2021, three local architects agreed to work pro-bono on developing an initial concept for each hall.
These were recently opened for public comment, with the council hoping that rebuilding work will begin once detailed design work and tendering is complete later this year.
Bega Valley Shire Council Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said the local community was grateful for the state government funding to enable the halls to be rebuilt.
“It will assist our council in rebuilding back better, but we need our halls and other vital community assets such as cemeteries and parks covered under DRFA arrangements. Communities shouldn’t have to wait to find funds for these assets that are at the real core of their social fabric,” he said.