House buyback scheme announced for Northern Rivers flood victims

Two thousand homeowners affected by this year’s severe flooding across Northern New South Wales will be able to access a land buyback scheme and additional support to raise or flood-proof their homes under a new government scheme.

The $800 million state and federal funding package announced by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet will enable homeowners in low-lying areas of the Northern Rivers to relocate by selling their homes to the government.

Meanwhile, the Resilient Homes Fund will focus on helping residents flood-proof their homes with up to $100,000 per homeowner, or up to $50,000 to upgrade their homes in areas where they can lower the flood risk by improving building standards.

Mr Albanese said by retrofitting homes to make them more flood resilient and moving those at most risk away from danger, communities can be safer during future flood events.

“We know that disasters are expected to become more frequent, and more severe due to climate change, and that’s why we’re working with the NSW Government to develop practical solutions to protect lives and livelihoods,” Mr Albanese said.

“We know this repeated, relentless flooding can be emotionally and financially draining and we want communities to know we will be there to support them now, and as they recover.”

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the Resilient Homes Program would help Northern Rivers’ residents take further steps on the road towards recovery while also boosting community resilience in the long-term.

“I saw first-hand the devastation extreme flooding caused across the Northern Rivers and I hope this program provides relief for so many residents who have suffered for too long,” Mr Perrottet said.

“We are stepping up to provide options for residents to move out of harm’s way and protect themselves and their families but we cannot continue to build back as we have in the past.”

“We will work with the Northern Rivers community to ensure repairs, retrofitting and voluntary buy-backs are undertaken in a way that will better protects people and their homes from future flood events.”

Federal Minister for Emergency Management, Murray Watt, said both governments would continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the region on the long road to recovery.

“The Northern Rivers has been absolutely devastated by flood after flood,” Mr Watt said.

“We know that being prepared for future disasters is a huge boost when it comes to the damage and long-term recovery of the region.

“Investing in resilience measures in the home can significantly reduce the effort, cost and time to recover from disasters.

“I’m very pleased to be part of this program which gives Northern Rivers residents more options in their flood preparedness toolkit.”

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, Paul Toole, said offers to individual homeowners will be based on extensive analysis of the 2022 floods and expert advice on any subsequent disasters.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to building back and this program offers multiple measures to help residents stay in the region in homes that can better withstand future floods,” Mr Toole said.

The New South Wales Government will also provide $100 million to acquire land and open up new flood safe locations for future development, in partnership with the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation.

NSW Minister for Flood Recovery, Steph Cooke, said the Resilient Homes Program complements the Resilient Land Program, which is identifying Northern Rivers’ locations that could be considered for future developments.

“We want to ensure residents who do choose to move are able to relocate into areas where there is community infrastructure and amenities so that they can start their lives anew, not from scratch,” Ms Cooke said.

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Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a freelance journalist specialising in finance and real estate.