The release of commonwealth guidelines for a $150 million community program for disaster preparedness, offered as a component of its Preparing Australian Communities Program, has been welcomed by the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).
Local governments and communities can apply for between $20,000 and $10 million grants under the program to deliver projects that will help them better prepare for future disasters and lessen their impacts.
In a statement on Tuesday, ALGA president Linda Scott said a recent royal commission had recommended that the federal government provide such funding with a view to better preparing communities for more severe and frequent natural disasters. The funding guidelines for the program were released 13 months after the final report of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements were tabled.
“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,” Scott said.
Delivering ‘maximum impact’ for local governments and their communities was best achieved through consultation and collaboration between the ALGA and federal government, Scott said. Investments in communities led to the creation of new jobs and local economic growth, as well as essential infrastructure.
“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,” she said.
What’s more, Scott argued, federal funding of local governments directly resulted in lower insurance premiums and faster reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Applications for projects under $100,000, as well as those projects for planning and awareness-raising, have no co-contribution requirements. For infrastructure projects over $100,000, local government’s co-contribution can be in kind.
“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,” Scott said.