Ten new community recovery officers (CROs) are set to bring tailored support to communities in the state’s Central West, New England and Riverina regions, including at Gunnedah, to help ongoing recovery efforts following flooding in August and September 2022.

These officers will be embedded in local councils and will collaborate with local community groups and other disaster management response and recovery stakeholders.

The new CROs will help with social, economic and environmental recovery in the Gunnedah shire and the local government areas of Berrigan, Cabonne, Central Darling, Cootamundra-Gundagai, Edward River, Moree, Murray River, Narrabri and Wentworth.

Flooding across NSW communities in August and September 2022 resulted in more than 1700 people accessing emergency accommodation, damage to more than 5200 properties, and impacts to key infrastructure, including electricity, sewage and roads. 

The 10 new CROs have been jointly-funded for 12 months by the Australian and NSW governments under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements, (DRFA) at a cost of $2.2 million.

Federal Minister for Emergency Management, Murray Watt said the federal government is committed to continue assisting the NSW government with key on-the-ground recovery support resourcing.

“We know the new state government is eager to hit the ground running when it comes to disaster support, and we are right there alongside them,” Minister Watt said.

“In the immediate aftermath of the disaster we made sure assistance was delivered to councils for clean ups and road repairs, and to individuals to get back on their feet.

“But the long-term impacts of disasters can’t be understated, and it is critical the right support is made available to help communities in their recovery journey.

“These community recovery officers will support local government with critical planning and delivery of activities relating to social, economic, infrastructure and environmental recovery.”             

NSW Minister for Emergency Services, Jihad Dib said the additional CROs are proof of how the NSW Reconstruction Authority is there to support communities long after a disaster has passed.

“The impacts of flood on those who suffered lasts well after the waters have receded and it’s important that people are not left behind,” Mr Dib said. “The best way to make real progress with that recovery is to have people on the ground supporting the community in whatever way they can.

“These 10 new community recovery officers embedded within the community, along with the NSW Reconstruction Authority, will continue the challenging work of helping people get back on their feet following the disastrous floods in 2022.

“The road to rebuild is long and this commitment will help ensure disaster recovery in regional NSW is effective and makes a tangible difference.”

Gunnedah Shire Council’s local emergency management officer and manager of community safety Wade Berryman said: “A CRO offers council the opportunity to work even closer with our community and build on the current recovery from the 2022 flood events. The CRO will engage with community organisations and individuals to identify and deliver recovery needs and grow the shire’s disaster preparedness and resilience.

“One of the roles of the CRO is to develop a community resilience network which will play a part in the ongoing recovery from the recent floods, as well as recovery in future disasters and emergencies.”

The new position complemented the Recovery Assistance Points provided to the Gunnedah shire community in the wake of flooding last year.

The pop-up centres at Gunnedah, Kelvin, Mullaley and Carroll offered residents the opportunity to speak in person with NSW government agencies, community organisations and welfare bodies.

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