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Program 1.7: Australian Government Disaster Financial Support Payments

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Summary

A key focus during the reporting period was assessing how financial assistance for the recovery needs of individuals following a disaster could be activated more consistently. Assessment tools were developed to assist in determining when additional assistance, such as the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP), is required. Arrangements were piloted over the summer period, with results being reviewed to inform arrangements for the summer of 2013–14.

Major achievements

New legislation was developed to support the ex gratia Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy. The Australian Government will now have the option of making the Disaster Recovery Allowance available to provide income support for up to 13 weeks to people who experience a loss of income as a direct result of a disaster.

Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and ex gratia assistance

To assist more than 142,000 people with their disaster recovery costs during 2012–13, over $169 million was provided under the AGDRP which was activated for a total of four events in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania. Ex gratia assistance to eligible New Zealand 'non protected' Special Category Visa (subclass 444) holders was activated in the same areas as the AGDRP and totalled over $0.55 million for the reporting period. Ex gratia assistance in the form of the Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy (DIRS) was activated for three of the four same events as AGDRP, with total expenditure of approximately $4.6 million. The AGDRP and the ex gratia payments were delivered by the Department of Human Services.

Disaster Recovery

The summer of 2012-13 was one of contrasts, with bushfires and flooding occurring simultaneously in different areas of Australia. During this period, the department trialled several tools designed to assess the recovery needs of individuals and communities following a natural disaster, and to target assistance to those most in need more effectively.

The Australian Government offers additional assistance directly to disaster-impacted people following a major disaster event. The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP) and the Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy (DIRS) were both activated for four events in three states over the 2012–13 summer.

To improve consistency in determining when to activate the AGDRP, the department developed a set of Disaster Assessment Tools. The tools draw on baseline information about an impacted area such as demographics, number of buildings and community vulnerability (including disability and unemployment levels). This information is considered with event impact information, allowing the Australian Government to better assess the needs and circumstances of individuals affected by natural disasters.

The tools have helped the Attorney-General to determine whether or not to activate AGDRP. An evaluation of the summer season pilot is underway, with a view to formalising the tools in time for the 2013-14 summer.

By continuing to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of disaster assistance measures and administration, the department will be better able to support the recovery of people and communities impacted by future disasters.

Flash flooding in Toowoomba. Photo courtesy of Tim Swinson 

Flash flooding in Toowoomba. Photo courtesy of Tim Swinson

Performance results

Table 2.18: Performance results, Program 1.7
Key performance indicators
Results
Number of recipients

Administered outlays

Timeliness of receipt of assistance
Achieved
More than 3000 claims for the ex gratia assistance to New Zealand citizens and the Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy were paid to assist individuals and families recover from disasters.

$1 million was provided to the Queensland Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal for the January 2012 floods.

Administered outlays totaled $5.175 million.

All ex gratia assistance was provided in a timely manner.

 

Table 2.19: Administered items, Program 1.7
Administered items
Results
Ex gratia assistance — New Zealand citizens
Achieved

More than 3000 claims for the ex gratia assistance to New Zealand citizens and the Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy were paid to assist individuals and families recover from disasters.
Budget Price: $10.784 million
Actual Price: $5.175 million
Special Appropriations
Social Security (Administration) Act 1999
Achieved

More than 142,000 claims for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment were paid to assist individuals and families recover from disasters.
Budget Price: $212.258 million
Actual Price: $170.176 million

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