Wednesday, May 29, 2024

$30m plan to future-proof weather impacted regions

The Government has unveiled a $30 million plan to ensure greater coordination, provision of and access to support in regions affected by extreme weather events earlier this year.

“We have a plan to make sure people’s needs will continue to be met as we recover from Cyclone Gabrielle, the Auckland flooding and other severe weather across the North Island,” said Minister for Social Development and Employment, Carmel Sepuloni.

“We know that the psychosocial effects of disasters are very real and that most people who go through a disaster or extreme weather event have heightened stress and anxiety.”

In addition to mental health support announced already for affected regions, the Government will also provide support for volunteers and community workers suffering burnout, and personalised support and referral pathways for people who own land that has been classified as risk level Category 2 and 3, the Minister said.

“We are also putting further support in place for students who’ve missed school so they can catch up on lost learning, and education and training for providers to support whānau, rangatahi and tamariki with anxiety and mental wellbeing,” she said.

“The Government will also put in the resource needed to build the resilience, preparedness and strength of community and iwi organisations so that they’re prepared for future events.

“We have learnt lessons following the Canterbury earthquakes, the COVID-19 pandemic and the Buller floods and want to emphasise the importance of work focused on long-term recovery from large scale disasters.

“Having a plan is important, because it makes sure we are investing not only in the immediate recovery of these regions, but in the longer-term livelihoods of all those affected as well.”

Ms Sepuloni said consultation had taken place so that agencies understand the specific needs of each region.

“These insights were used to understand and inform where support was most needed so it can be delivered in the best, most efficient, and meaningful way going forward.”

The Minister said the recovery plan provides a framework for a coordinated cross-agency approach to social recovery, bringing together existing and new actions into a comprehensive package that responds to identified areas of need.

“Actions cover the next two years and are intended to support regional priorities and the delivery of regional recovery plans,” she said.

A tagged contingency of $30 million was secured through the Budget 2023 North Island Weather Events Response and Recovery Package and will be used to support the implementation of the plan.

The first round of contingency funding ($20.65m) will target support towards regions and population groups where existing levels of investment are not sufficient to meet emerging needs, the Minister said.

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