While most of Queensland is recovering from the February 2022 flooding event, the North Burnett region is doing it for the second time over, after already experiencing extensive flooding in January. During the January floods, parts of the region like Dallarnil had not yet secured a place on the Government’s disaster funding list and were left stranded. This prompted Yasmin Barber, Coordinator of North Burnett Community Service to advocate intensely for Government recognition and support.

“Originally Dallarnil wasn’t included in the original disaster list in North Burnett and couldn’t access any government support. We spent a whole week with council advocating really hard… the department actually called us and thanked us for our advocacy. By us being involved, as an external agency advocating for the community it was the push they needed.”

Yasmin and her team’s efforts paid off. Within the week they had secured funding for grants and future disaster resilience in their region. The state government announced that flood affected residents in the Wide Bay Burnett region would be eligible for grants of up to $50,000 (ABC news 2022.)

“It took about four days to get the state government to agree to funding and seven for the federal government to do the same. For the current floods we’re now top of the list and were even named by the Prime Minister as a priority.”

After this success, Yasmin visited Dallarnil and saw the effects of their advocacy work firsthand. By turning up to show their support for the region it was suggested that the North Burnett Community Service be subcontracted by Lifeline as a frontline responder and local provider of disaster resilience support.

“We went to Dallarnil two weeks later when the MP and community recovery authority were there. Just from us being there, it was proactively suggested by the department that Lifeline have a state-wide contract to provide psychosocial recovery after disaster. They suggested we be subcontracted by Lifeline, as the frontline response and prioritised as a local provider.”

North Burnett Community Service has always been involved in disaster management at a local government level. They have meetings for members of the Disaster Management Planning Committee. Yasmin highlighted how despite committing to support the community, external providers do not always show up to help.

“When it comes to disaster management, we have meetings in the regions for members of the planning committee. A lot of the ER [Emergency Relief] providers attend and put their hands up to help, however we recently had a meeting in December, and by January when the floods came, no one was there. Not even the SES turned up in January, only the rural fire brigade, community services and us.”

Despite a lack of support during the January floods, Yasmin and her team remained strong and supported the community in any way they could.

“When we went down to respond in the first week [of the 2022 January floods] we had no funding, but we’re a local community service with strong ties to our community members and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Thanks to Yasmin and the North Burnett Community Service’s continuous advocacy work and unwavering support for their community, the region  has received vital funding that will change the future of the community.

Reference: ABC Wide Bay (20.01.2022) Flooded Wide Bay Burnett community offered government grants for its long recovery.

Written by: Taylor Bast
Published: 22 April, 2022