Queensland plans for bushfire recovery

The Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA) has been working closely with councils and across agencies to coordinate recovery in the local government areas affected by the latest devastating fire season.

Hot, dry and windy conditions from September 2023 led to high and extreme fire danger ratings and the ignition of multiple fast-moving bushfires across northern and southern Queensland that left a burn scar of more than 750,000 hectares.

Currently 21 councils across Queensland, from Cook Shire in the north to Southern Downs on the New South Wales border, are now activated for some form of disaster recovery assistance because of these catastrophic fires.

Community recovery hubs and pop-up hubs are operating in the hardest hit locations across the southern and northern firegrounds to provide essential services and advice to bushfire affected residents.

QRA officers, including CEO Jake Ellwood, have been tirelessly travelling to all affected areas working towards a swift recovery for every Queenslander affected by this latest natural disaster.

This includes heavily impacted areas in Bundaberg, Gladstone, Mareeba, Southern Downs, Toowoomba and Western Downs, supporting councils with funding requests and recovery planning.

QRA has worked with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and other agencies to develop a $13 million extraordinary assistance package under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) which has been approved by the Premier and is now with the Commonwealth for consideration.

In addition, DRFA financial assistance is currently available for residents of defined areas within the LGAs of Bundaberg, Gladstone, Mareeba, Tablelands, Toowoomba, Southern and Western Downs.

More than 1,700 calls have been received by the Queensland Community Recovery Hotline since 15 October 2023.

As at 29 November 2023, almost 1,700 DRFA grants totalling approximately $630,000 in personal hardship assistance have been paid, assisting 2,484 people in fire-impacted communities.

QRA is working with councils, Queensland’s Department of Housing, and the National Emergency Management Agency on longer term housing solutions in areas where homes have been lost, as well as the logistics for cleanup across the impacted communities.

Civil works have commenced to prepare the former Tara Caravan Park in Western Downs to provide medium-term accommodation, and an animal shelter is also under construction at Tara Showgrounds.

QRA will be coordinating a long-term State Recovery and Resilience Plan for these bushfires and will be meeting with the Commonwealth to develop further targeted funding packages to support the recovery and resilience of the hardest hit communities.

Thankfully, widespread rainfall across much of the state has extinguished the multiple blazes and immediate threat of further fires. 

As the summer marches on, this wet weather could spell a return to flooding conditions if the rain continues.

As ever, QRA is ready to face any challenges from Mother Nature and will stand shoulder to shoulder with Queenslanders on the road to recovery.