Recovery centres provide much-needed support to flood victims

Enquiries for assistance have not slowed in the Clarence Valley as flood-affected residents continue to stream through the Grafton and Maclean recovery centres in large numbers.

Clarence Valley Council in partnership with Resilience NSW established the Grafton Recovery Centre and Maclean Recovery Assistance Point in response to the devastating floods in late February-early March.

Since opening on March 10, approximately 1500 people have been at assisted across the two centres.

“Clarence Valley Council is pleased to be able to collaborate with Resilience NSW to simplify the recovery process for our community during this difficult time,” Clarence Valley Mayor Ian Tiley said.

The centres provide a one-stop shop for accessing a wide range of grants, services and support with representatives from multiple agencies on location.

“When people arrive they are greeted by the Red Cross who get them registered and go through the services available,” Resilience NSW North Coast coordinator Kate MacFarlane said.

“Then the first port of call is Service NSW, who can help with housing, clean up details and identify other services.”

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People are then matched with other services depending on their individual needs.

From business grants up to $150,000 from Services Australia, to laundry and fuel assistance from St Vincent de Paul, there are packages available for all aspects of people’s lives impacted by the disaster.

Services Australia sent a large team from Queensland, while Clarence Valley Council put on three new local staff to assist in the coordination.

“There’s real mix of local and out-of-area staff here to provide assistance,” Ms MacFarlane said.

The centre also provides 14-day emergency food hampers, cleaning supplies, pet food, and access to a laptop computer and printer.

The Grafton Recovery Centre at Grafton and Maclean Recovery Access Point are open from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 12pm Saturdays.

  • Grafton Recovery Centre: Prince St and Fitzroy St (old St George Bank building).
  • Maclean Recovery Assistance Point: 50A River Street.

Representatives from the following organisations are providing assistance:

  • Red Cross
  • Clarence Valley Council
  • National Recovery and Resilience Agency
  • Services Australia
  • Services Australia Business
  • Service NSW
  • Department of Primary Industries
  • Salvation Army
  • St Vincent de Paul
  • Safe Work
  • Resilience NSW
  • Legal Aid
  • Disaster Counsellor
  • Rural Adversity Mental Health Program
  • Chaplain
  • plus more.

Formerly the Office of Emergency Management, Resilience NSW was formed in 2020 and is headed by Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, who led the NSW Rural Fire Service through the Black Summer bushfires.

The agency was recently restructured so that localised teams could directly respond to the needs of the community, instead of teams deployed out of Sydney.

There are six branches across NSW, with North Coast comprising a team of 11 covering an area from Tea Gardens to Tweed Heads, specialising in disaster response as well as planning and preparation for future events.

There are currently a total of 20 recovery centres in place across NSW to respond to the latest flooding events.

Ms MacFarlane brought experience from the March 2021 floods at Port Macquarie, where she set up two recovery centres and 31 mobile pop-up outreaches after 800 homes were inundated.

She said setting up the Grafton and Maclean centres was a rapid process given the urgency of the situation.

“We arrived on the Monday night (March 7), met with Clarence Valley Council Acting General Manager Laura Black on Tuesday morning about setting up, Council representatives and I scoped out the location in Maclean that afternoon and Grafton on Wednesday morning, cleaned the buildings, set up and were open by lunchtime Thursday.

“We will also set up mobile pop-up outreaches in the coming weeks and develop a local recovery committee.”

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