2024 ‘Disaster Preparedness’ Category Honourable Mention

Cabonne Council, NSW

“Building Back A Better Cabonne” – Cabonne Recovery Plan

2024 ‘Disaster Preparedness’ Category Honourable Mention

The Initiative

In November 2022, the Cabonne local government area experienced one of its worst flood events. This catastrophic event directly impacted five towns, with 426 homes, and more than 100 businesses, rural properties, and infrastructure damaged, destroyed or lost.

Most devastatingly, this flood event also resulted in the loss of two Cabonne residents.

In the immediate aftermath of this event, the Council recognised the need to have clarity on the priority actions that were crucial in ensuring the successful rebuild of the local government area.

The Cabonne Recovery Plan (the Plan), Building Back a Better Cabonne, helps to identify the key elements required to rebuild and stimulate the local economy, as well as support efforts to secure additional investments in essential areas which underpin recovery.

The Plan prioritises infrastructure restoration and economic recovery across impacted towns and villages, and enables both the Council, community, and governments to monitor, record and report key achievements throughout our recovery journey.

The Plan was wholly Council–funded, taking time and resources that were already stretched. However, the Plan has also enabled the Council to prioritise the things that matter most to our communities.

Localised recovery plans are not mandatory under state or federal legislation; however, the Plan has been a catalyst for both Council and government decision making – providing a solid evidence base which demonstrates community support for recovery efforts.

Feedback from the NSW Reconstruction Authority and National Emergency Management Authority is that the Plan sets a benchmark for other local government authorities.

In consideration of the future of Cabonne, the Plan also outlines a strategy of action to ‘build back better’ ensuring the community is more resilient when faced with potential future natural disasters.

To date, the biggest achievement from the Plan is the announcement of a $100 million Central West Resilience and Response Package, which includes funding for housing (buy–backs, retrofits and raises), a community assets program, and a road betterment program.

Less than 18 months on, and with 72% of actions under the Plan either complete or underway, funding for bridges betterment has been secured, flood mitigation, a new preschool, and reviews of flood studies, are demonstrations of the exceptional achievements in the aftermath of such a devastating event.

About the Category

The ‘Disaster Readiness and Recovery’ category recognises local government initiatives which:

  • support communities to manage and adapt to climatic events by investing in disaster prevention, recovery and preparedness;
  • actively reduce risks from disasters and pandemics, particularly as they impact local communities;
  • ensure the Australian community is prepared to endure more frequent challenging events; and/or
  • implement programs and policies that ensure communities survive and prosper following these events.

Successful initiatives in this award category benefit communities by:

  • lowering the potential impacts of disasters and pandemics by analysing and managing the causes;
  • identifying risks and mapping capacity to respond to hazards;
  • protecting lives and livelihoods, communities and individuals; and/or
  • reducing damage or loss from disaster, particularly when it comes to public and private infrastructure.

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