Federal Government backs release of ERF funding for mitigation

The Federal Government has pledged to release $50 million from the Emergency Response Fund for use in mitigation projects.

The commitment came via the Government’s response to the Senate inquiry into lessons to be learned in relation to the preparation and planning for, response to, and recovery efforts following the 2019-20 Australian bushfires.

The Finance and Public Administration References Committee interim report published last October, contained 13 recommendations.

As well as recommending that funding from the ERF be released as a matter of priority, the committee also said the review into Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) should consider:

  • the need to streamline application processes for DRFA assistance and provide additional case management assistance for individuals, local and state and territory governments during and following natural disaster;
  • the need to harmonise eligibility criteria across jurisdictions to ensure equitable access to support; and
  • the need to remove impediments to applying for betterment and mitigation initiatives.

In its response, the Government said the DRFA review is underway and that it supports moves to ensure more equitable access to support and more streamlines processes “where possible”.

The Government also supported a recommendation for the development of the Australian Warning System and the Australian Fire Danger Rating System “as a matter of priority”.

However, it noted eight other recommendations only, while supporting “in principle” one recommendation that the Commonwealth provide the Department of Health with increased and ongoing funding for research into the population health impacts of unhealthy and hazardous levels of bushfire smoke.