NSW bushfire council support group re-established for 2020-21 summer

By Matthew Elmas

Tuesday October 20, 2020

AAP/Dan Himbrechts

The NSW government is laying the groundwork for emergency collaboration between local governments ahead of bushfire season, re-establishing the Local Government Bushfire Recovery Support Group today.

Created during the bushfire crisis earlier this year, the organisation coordinated the deployment of resources between local councils, allowing jurisdictions not directly affected to extend resources to fire ravaged areas.

Minister for local government Shelley Hancock says the re-establishment of the support group is part of a broader effort to prepare the state for the 2020-21 bushfire season.

“With the bushfire season officially beginning this month, I am once again calling on councils in a position to help other councils to come forward. Likewise, I am also calling on those councils who need a hand with bushfire preparedness to register through the specialist unit,” Hancock said in a statement.

“While the initial focus will be on preparation, the unit will play a key role in matching council resources with communities in need if they are unfortunate enough to suffer more bushfires this season.”

The bushfire recovery support group was particularly helpful earlier this year in locating archived planning files for damaged properties, seconding engineering staff to conduct assessments on damaged timber bridges, and providing work crews to clear debris blocking access roads.

In total 44 councils participated in the group, offering 556 items of assistance in response to 60 requests from 18 bushfire-affected councils.

Local Government NSW president Linda Scott said the unit is an “excellent example” of generosity and collaboration between councils.

“These efforts have never been more important, especially as we deal with the challenges presented by the changes to our climate,” she said in a statement.

READ MORE: Learning from experience: how the 2020 bushfires response built on Black Saturday


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