A regional community taskforce has pushed for policy reform in the wake of last October’s devastating floods.
The Goulburn Murray Resilience Taskforce, a group of community and regional leaders which is working to build resilience in the region, met last month to tackle issues arising from the record-breaking floods.
Those in attendance included Emergency Recovery Victoria CEO Mariela Diaz and representatives from Regional Development Victoria.
Taskforce chair Sarah Thomson said there needed to be a shift away from short-term responses to disasters and a move towards a strategic approach of developing regional resilience.
“While many people are still in response mode, it is crucial for community leaders to start thinking about recovery planning,” Ms Thomson said.
“Housing is the most pressing issue. Over 500 people are essentially homeless in our region. They are challenged by the insurance process and vulnerable due to impacts from the floods.
“The recovery is a long process. We only have to look to the Black Summer fires of 2019-20 to see that only 20 per cent of households in that area have been rebuilt.”
Ms Thomson said chief among challenges for the taskforce was to develop community leadership and preparedness and challenge the ‘we will rebuild’ approach.
“We need to learn from previous natural disasters and embed a level of readiness so that communities can be more self-reliant in the event of a flood or bushfire.
“Trust is key to recovery. Our communities need to trust that their regions can ‘build back better’ with a focus on levee banks, insurance reform and drainage.
“Then as communities start to recover, there is a need to incorporate ‘big-picture’ thinking such as climate change and water security.”
Sarah Thomson from the Resilience Taskforce with the Committee for Greater Shepparton’s CEO Linda Nieuwenhuizen.