NSW floods – structural weaknesses in the housing system exposed

The 2022 flooding events in the Northern Rivers compounded what was an already strained housing system. Our 2021 NSW Regional Housing Need Report identified local government areas (LGAs) like Tweed, Bryon and Lismore in the top ten regional LGAs with a number of red flags – a system and population vulnerable to crises of all sorts (economic, public health or weather disasters).

Recent research by the UNSW City Futures Research Centre has confirmed the extent to which the response to the northern rivers flood crisis was hindered by these structural weaknesses in the housing system and the need for building greater housing and community resilience ahead of likely future climate disasters.

Shelter NSW was delighted to assist the organisations that commissioned this research. We have learned a lot from the experience – especially from the groups providing direct support in Lismore and surrounding towns.

We are very encouraged to see the NSW Government announce the proposal to create a new Reconstruction Authority that will be charged with disaster preparedness, recovery and reconstruction from natural disasters. Encouragingly, the authority appears to have multi party support. Our hope is that the new authority will have a remit that extends beyond the bricks and mortar of disaster preparation and recovery to community development and the creation of a fairer and more sustainable housing system that is better able to withstand crises.

As a new year approaches we think of communities in the north still trying recover from the year’s floods – anxiously awaiting what the summer might bring.