Disaster support for councils

As a council, you have a key role in identifying the impact of disasters on your local community. This information helps to support a decision about the need for activation of personal hardship assistance for your community.

About personal hardship assistance

When activated, the Joint Commonwealth and State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) or State Disaster Relief Arrangements (SDRA) provide funding to help people with no other means who are affected by a disaster.

DRFA or SDRA is activated for disasters that meet certain criteria. These arrangements provide personal hardship financial assistance for people with no other means of support.

When a community is impacted by a disaster, the Commonwealth and state governments may activate the Personal Hardship Assistance Scheme and Essential Services Safety and Reconnection Scheme. These schemes enable the state government to provide financial support to affected people, including the:

Before a disaster occurs

Before a disaster occurs, it is important to develop relationships and arrangements with organisations in your community who support human and social recovery efforts. They may already be established as a human and social recovery sub-group, welfare committee or sub-group of the Local Disaster Management Group—such as a local recovery sub-committee or an existing community services or welfare network.

Talking to these groups or committees helps you know what support is already available in your community if a disaster affects your area. They will:

  • know their capacity to respond to human and social recovery needs
  • be able to identify when district-level community recovery assistance is required
  • understand their capacity and possible limitations and
  • have terms of reference, activation protocols, communication protocols and training for members (if they are a more formal disaster management group).

Activating community recovery assistance

There are steps you can take to support the activation of DRFA or SDRA funding for your community.

Step 1

Collect, record and provide evidence to your local community service or welfare committee and the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy about the human or social infrastructure impacts and the consequences being experienced within your community.

Useful information you could include:

  • a description of the damages, losses and disruption your community has experienced or is experiencing
  • how this is affecting households—for example, no access to food, medication, and temporary accommodation; emotional distress; isolation or structural damage
  • how this has affected people with increased risk of vulnerability, such as people with disability, people in aged care facilities, people experiencing homelessness, travellers and tourists, First Nations peoples and culturally and linguistically diverse community members
  • how is it affecting day-to-day life—for example, schools and workplaces disrupted; community events and activities cancelled or disrupted; sport, recreation, cultural and arts activities cancelled or disrupted
  • how many people are affected and where
  • how many homes are damaged or destroyed and the likely level of insurance within the community (if known)
  • if local organisations can meet the recovery needs of the community
  • assistance gaps or needs that government could assist with
  • any other relevant information.

Step 2

If possible, meet with your local human and social recovery sub-group within 24 hours of the event. This will help you know what local support and capacity is available to help affected community members.

Step 3

Escalate a request for assistance through your Local Disaster Management Group’s Chair or the District Disaster Coordinator.

Outline why:

  • local resources cannot meet the recovery needs of the community; and/or
  • the community needs more help than the local recovery plan and arrangements can support.

You will need to:

  • describe the impacts and complete a community impact assessment form
  • provide supporting data to the liaison officer in the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy.

Step 4

The department will review this information, along with intelligence from:

  • partner agencies
  • community service organisations
  • damage assessments
  • flood maps
  • bushfire maps.

This will help the department understand the human and social impact of the disaster on the community and the capacity of local community services.

Step 5

When the department is satisfied that local community services cannot support the needs of the community, they will lodge a request for activation of DRFA or SDRA with the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA). The QRA will work with the state and Commonwealth governments to announce any assistance measures.

Step 6

If DRFA or SDRA is activated:

  • the relevant Minister will make an announcement
  • the Chair of the Local Disaster Management Group will be told the outcome
  • information about the newly activated funding will be made available online, detailing how people can apply and seek support (through the Community Recovery Hotline (1800 173 349) and other local services).

Learn more