Thursday 29 September 2022

At request of community Southern Cross University is conducting an online & paper survey on the effects of the February floods in NSW Northern Rivers


The Echo, 22 September 2022:

What were the effects of the February floods on you, your home, your property, your neighbours and your community? How could the response have been more effective and better assisted you and those around you to recover? 

Negotiating landslides in Wilsons Creek
to get home. Photo Sama Balson

A Southern Cross University (SCU) survey is seeking to understand these questions and gather information on what the most effective response and recovery efforts in relation to the floods and landslides of the 2022 floods were.

The survey project leader Dr Hanabeth Luke from SCU said that the purpose of the survey was to build an independent record of community recovery from the 2022 NSW Northern Rivers floods for people across the region.


Recent landslide damage. Photo supplied.

This survey was called for by the community, has been developed in partnership with our community hubs, and the results will be going back out to the community within a month of the survey closing,’ said Dr Luke…...

Anyone affected by the 2022 heavy rain and flood events across the NSW Northern Rivers region is encouraged to complete the Northern Rivers Flood Recovery Survey.

The anonymous survey will take approximately 20 minutes to complete.

Access the survey via this link.

Prefer a paper-based survey? Call 1800 317 503 or visit your local community hub or recovery centre.

Questions or concerns about the survey? Contact the researcher team by calling 1800 317 503 or send an email to

Wednesday 28 September 2022

Flood modelling, mapping, studies, levee rehabilitation, warning signs, new gauges are worth very little if the NSW Government and North Coast councils continue to allow developers to build on flood prone land and within known floodways or flood storage areas

Below is a list of flood-related issues that the Australian and NSW governments, along with local governments and county councils in the Northern Rivers region, will engage with rather than addressing the rampaging elephant in the room. 

That is, the continued support of extensive urban development on floodplains in the heavily populated state coastal zone and, current environmental and planning legislation which is an inadequate vehicle to deal with any and all risk associated with an Australian climate undergoing continual uncharted change. 

Flood modelling, mapping, studies, levee rehabilitation, warning signs, new gauges, on paper evacuation routes and the like are worth very little if the NSW Perrottet Government and councils across the state (including those in Northern NSW) continue to allow developers to build on identified paths floods are known to travel, or if by consenting to the raising of largescale subdivision ground heights on flood prone land both government and councils redirect groundwater flows causing further riverine and stormwater inundation in towns and villages during heavy rainfall events.

The Northern NSW list.......

NSW Dept. of Planning and the Environment, Floodplain management grants awarded and project summaries, information retrieved 26 September 2022.

2021-22 NSW Government Floodplain Management Grants:

Tweed Shire Council

Tweed Heads south levee overtopping and drainage study

This project will provide a local flood risk management study for the South Tweed business district and residential area. The study will examine flooding, drainage and the hydraulic characteristics of the local levee and drainage systems, in order to identify potential flood risk mitigation and improvement measures. It will also include analysis of future flooding risks such as sea level rise and climate change. The findings of the study will inform development controls in the region and provide a local floodplain risk management strategy, including measures to be implemented within the area to reduce the impacts of flooding.

Raising and Extension of Tweed Heads South Levee is expected to cost $27 million over a 30 year period.

Byron Shire Council

Debris control measures for Federation Bridge

Federation Bridge is the major bridge in Mullumbimby crossing the Brunswick River. Federation Bridge's pile design makes the structure vulnerable to the collection of debris, which causes a major blockage to floodway flow in the Brunswick River at Mullumbimby. This was a contributing factor to the increase in flood levels within Mullumbimby during the 2017 flood event. This project will undertake the investigation, design and construction of bridge control measures to reduce the potential of river blockage at Federation Bridge.

2020-21 NSW Government Joint Grants through the Floodplain Management Grants and Floodplain Grants Scheme, which is funded by Resilience NSW:

Lismore City Council

Review and update Lismore flood risk management plan

Lismore experienced a major flood event in March 2017, which peaked at 11.59m Australian height datum (Lismore Rowing Club gauge) and saw the central business district levee overtopped for the first time since it was completed in 2005. Rous County Council recently prepared a flood risk management study following the 2017 event. This project will update Lismore's flood risk management plan, based on the findings of the flood risk management study.

Richmond Valley Council

Update the Richmond River flood study

This project will produce a single consistent flood model for the Richmond Valley local government area from Casino to Broadwater. This involves rebuilding the Richmond River flood model (2010) for use in modern flood model software, inclusion of calibrated modelling for the Casino township, and the merging of the Evans River flood study (2014) and the Pacific Highway Woolgoolga to Ballina road upgrade flood modelling. This will result in the elimination of disparity between the Richmond River and Casino models where they interface and overlap.

2019-20 NSW Government Joint Grants through the Floodplain Management Grants and Floodplain Grants Scheme, which is funded by the NSW Office of Emergency Management:

Clarence Valley Council

Alice Street levee rehabilitation – investigation and design

A section of the levee between Queen and Alice Street has been identified as being at risk due to scouring and undercutting, potentially causing slips that will risk the stability of the levee. This project will carry out a geotechnical assessment on the stability of the flood levee and riverbank and recommend options to improve riverbank stability in this area.

Wooli flood study and management plan – review and update

This project will update the 1999 Wooli floodplain risk management plan to incorporate recent flood events and best practice modelling to predict flood levels. The updated flood study and plan for Wooli will allow for informed decisions on managing flood risk.

Tweed Shire Council

Detailed design of Murwillumbah central business district levee spillway

During the March 2017 flood, the earthen section of the Murwillumbah central business district levee was overtopped in a few localised low points. The overtopping occurred in an unexpected location and in an uncontrolled nature. The Murwillumbah central business district levee and drainage study recommended the remediation of the levee low points and installation of a formalised spillway to achieve safe and controlled overtopping of the levee during events equal to or greater than the levee crest. This project will complete a detailed design for a spillway and levee rehabilitation.

Update and expansion of the Tweed Valley flood study

The current Tweed Valley flood study was completed in 2009 and covered only the more populated areas of the Tweed. Historical records and anecdotal evidence suggest that there are many more properties in the Tweed Shire's rural areas and villages that are exposed to flooding. This project proposes to expand the Tweed Valley flood study into the upper catchment to cover the villages of Chillingham, Tyalgum, Kunghur, Uki, Stokers Siding, Bilambil and the rural areas in between. Flood intelligence in these areas will allow Council to identify high-risk areas/properties.

Kyogle Council

Bonalbo flood study

Council will undertake a flood study to improve their understanding of flood behaviour and impacts, and to make better informed management decisions in relation to flood risk in Bonalbo. This study will also provide a sound technical basis for any further flood risk management investigations in the area.

2018-19 NSW Government Joint Grants through the Floodplain Management Grants and Floodplain Grants Scheme, which is jointly funded by the NSW Office of Emergency Management and the Australian Government:

Clarence Valley Council

Bluff Bridge (Orara River) flood monitoring

This project will install a remotely monitored flood gauge in the Orara River at Bluff Bridge to enable residents to be aware of when the road is closed. Flooding of the Orara River has caused the Orara Way to close on many occasions at this location. The closure causes isolation and inconvenience to the community of Glenreagh and surrounds as well as through traffic between Grafton and Coffs Harbour.

The Bluff Bridge Flood Monitoring System was switched on in August-September 2020.

Lower Clarence rural floodplain risk management study and plan

This project will prepare a rural floodplain risk management study and plan. In 2014, a report on the management of flood mitigation assets identified that the Council may be maintaining floodplain works that have little or no flood mitigation benefit or that perpetuate environmental harm. The report concluded that the best option was to prepare a new floodplain risk management plans for the rural floodplain.

Tweed Shire Council

Coastal Creeks flash flood warning system

Burringbar, Mooball and Crabbes creeks are subjected to flash flooding with little or no warning. This project will undertake modelling to establish the gauge triggers necessary for the flash flood warning system to be effective. Once triggers are determined the warning system will be investigated and implemented. Extensive community engagement is proposed to ensure residents are aware of the action they should take.

Community flood markers

This project involves the fabrication and installation of flood markers and signage to record the level of the March 2017 flood event in various impacted suburbs. This includes updating previous signage commemorating the 1954 flood, as well as additional markers on street poles. The signage project will be complemented by consultation activities and media to raise flood awareness in these communities.

2017-18 NSW Government Joint Grants through the Floodplain Management Grants and Floodplain Grants Scheme, which is jointly funded by the NSW Office of Emergency Management and the Australian Government:

Clarence Valley Council

Clarence Valley floor level surveys

There is a lack of knowledge regarding floor heights of buildings located within the Clarence Valley floodplain. This project will undertake floor height surveys of these buildings. This information will be used in conjunction with the lower Clarence flood model for a variety of floodplain management purposes, including refining the evacuation strategies; assisting with the cost/benefit assessments for potential levee augmentations to improve flood immunity; and identify properties that would be eligible for potential future house raising assistance.

Tweed Shire Council

Enhance Burringbar/Mooball/Crabbes Creek gauge network

There are currently 2 rain gauges in the Burringbar and upper Crabbes Creek catchments. This project will install 2 additional rain gauges upstream of Burringbar to improve flood warning in the area.

Incorporate Tumbulgum gauge into flood warning system

The automatic stream gauge at Tumbulgum is not currently included in the Bureau of Meteorology's formal flood warning network. This project will incorporate the gauge at Tumbulgum into the Bureau of Meteorology flood warning network. This will improve predictions of flood height in the mid catchment, by including influences from the tide and Rous River, and will improve flood warnings and real-time evacuation planning.

South Murwillumbah – Condong flow path/levee performance study

This project will deliver a flood study for the south Murwillumbah business district and residential area. The study will examine flooding and the hydraulic characteristics of south Murwillumbah Condong floodway, including the effectiveness of the current levee system. The findings of the study will inform development controls in the region and provide a floodplain risk strategy, including potential property modification measures such as land acquisition and structural works to maintain or improve the efficiency of the floodway.

2016-17 NSW Government Joint Grants through the Floodplain Management Program and Floodplain Grants Scheme, which is jointly funded by the NSW Office of Emergency Management and the Australian Government.

Ballina Shire Council

Ballina Island and West Ballina Flood Protection Feasibility Study and Plan

This project will develop a strategy to protect the existing urban footprint of Ballina Island and West Ballina below the one percent annual exceedance probability flood level from mainstream, storm surge and local overland flooding that can be adapted for future sea level rise. The strategy will be used to implement development controls, identify feasible infrastructure upgrades and structural protection measures available to reduce the impacts of flooding to Ballina Island and West Ballina.

Byron Shire Council

North Byron Flood Risk Management Study and Plan

There is considerable development pressure in the North Byron catchment and Council is currently preparing a future residential development strategy. This project will develop a risk management study and plan for the area to ensure that the existing and future development will be managed in accordance with flood hazards.

Kyogle Council

Tabulam Village floodplain risk management study and plan

The village of Tabulam is flood prone and major flooding has impacted on the village and its residents in the past. Development of the Tabulam floodplain risk management study and plan will assist in identifying the way to manage the risk of flooding impacts within the village area. This will provide guidance for the control measures required for the existing developed area and identify risks involved in new development. Beneficial control measures will be identified and implemented.

Rous County Council

Tuckean floodgate management plan review

The Tuckean floodgate management plan review will address the functional effectiveness and sustainability of Council's infrastructure on the Northern Rivers of NSW. This project will inform and update the Richmond Catchment flood model by providing a refinement of scale to allow feeder canals, drains and tidal variation inclusion. This approach will allow greater understanding of the hydrological function of the Tuckean floodgate, which is known as an acid hotspot. This will also allow Council to revise floodgate management plans in the area and support the community's desire for improved water quality in the Richmond River.

Tweed Shire Council

South Murwillumbah voluntary purchase scheme

A voluntary purchase scheme is in place for high hazard flood affected homes along the Tweed River frontage of River Street, South Murwillumbah. The existing earthen levee provides limited low level protection from small flood events. Properties have been purchased in the region over the past twenty years. Only a few eligible properties remain, and it is difficult to predict when these will be purchased, given the voluntary nature of the program and the owner's willingness to sell their property. Once removed, the properties will become public open space to be enjoyed by the wider Tweed community.

2015-16 NSW Government Joint Grants through the Floodplain Management Program and Floodplain Risk Management Grants Scheme, which was jointly funded by the NSW Office of Emergency Management and the Australian Government.

Richmond River County Council

Richmond Catchment Flood Model compilation and Australian height datum adjustment

This project is designed to refine the existing Richmond River catchment flood models and aims to link all existing flood models into a catchment model to provide continuity across the catchment.

Tweed Shire Council

South Murwillumbah Voluntary Purchase Scheme

A voluntary purchase scheme is in place for high hazard flood affected homes along the Tweed River frontage of River Street South Murwillumbah. This project will provide funding for the purchase of the few eligible properties that remain if the opportunity arises to purchase the property.

2014-15 NSW Government Joint Grants through the Floodplain Management Program and Floodplain Risk Management Grants Scheme, which was jointly funded by the NSW Office of Emergency Management and the Australian Government.

Kyogle Council

Kyogle – flood modification measures: construction activities

This project involves construction activities associated with the structural flood modification measures identified in Council's Floodplain Risk Management Plan, including a partial ring levee and additional Fawcetts Creek flood breakout.

Richmond River County Council

Water Quality Monitoring – Richmond River Catchment

This project will undertake water quality monitoring. The water quality monitoring is linked to the flood mitigation systems as it triggers the opening and closure thresholds (water level and pH) of the floodgate.

Richmond Valley flood warning and evacuation planning system - rural home floor

This project will collect ground and floor level data that can be used in flood warning and evacuation systems and detail homes that are a priority for house raising or evacuation.

Lismore rural evacuation – house floor level plan

This project will survey the floor levels of houses in the most impacted areas. The information will inform potential purchasers of the risks associated with individual houses in the rural area and at the same time give emergency response agencies good information on where resources should be deployed in a flood.

Flood evacuation South Lismore

This project will examine the option for constructing a new high level escape route to high ground for South Lismore.

Tuesday 27 September 2022

Grafton Loop of the Knitting Nannas speaking plainly to the Minister for Climate Change & Energy and Labor MP for Prospect (NSW), Chris Bowen


Hon Chris Bowen

Minister for Climate Change and Energy

Parliament House



Dear Minister Bowen

Federal Government Climate Policy

The Grafton Loop of the Knitting Nannas Against Gas and Greed is a community group which was formed in 2012 in response to plans by the NSW Government to foist a gas mining industry on our NSW Northern Rivers region. As you may be aware, the determined campaigning of grass roots community groups, including various regional loops of Knitting Nannas, forced the abandonment of these plans. Because of our ongoing concerns about climate change and the impact it will have on future generations, the Nannas have remained active since the removal of the immediate gas threat to our region.

The Nannas are delighted that our new Federal Government has responded to community concerns about the existential threat of climate change by committing to greater emission cuts than the former government.

While this is a good first step, we are concerned that what you are doing is far short of what is actually required. As we understand it, your proposed cuts are in line with a temperature rise of 2°C not the 1.5° which is in line with the Paris goal. Scientists keep advising that much more is needed – much faster. Indeed the bushfires and floods in Australia as well as the climate-induced disasters elsewhere are making this very plain.

In addition the Nannas are extremely concerned that your Government has adopted a “business as usual” approach to the fossil fuel industry – an approach that is completely inconsistent with your apparent commitment to do better on climate change.

We are concerned that you see no problem with the opening of new coal and gas mines.

We are concerned that your colleague, Minister King, recently announced 46,758 sq km of new petroleum acreage for exploration in Commonwealth waters to the north of the country.

We are appalled that Minister King also indicated your Government’s support of the pie-in-the-sky technology of carbon capture and storage (CCS) so beloved of the fossil fuel industry by approving two permits for off-shore greenhouse gas storage areas north of WA and the NT. And there are a further three to come. We are also very concerned that taxpayer funds continue to be wasted on subsidies to CCS which are another form of “green-washing” by polluters intent on pursuing their damaging businesses.

If the fossil fuel industry had been concerned about the election of a government committed to greater climate action, they must be collectively rubbing their hands in glee, because nothing has really changed from the policies of the previous government.

As you are undoubtedly aware, more Australians than ever before are concerned about climate change and they expect more consistent and effective action from their government.

We urge you, Minister Bowen, to improve your government’s action on climate change.

Yours sincerely

Leonie Blain

On behalf of the Grafton Nannas

Cc Hon Tanya Plibersek, Minister for Environment and Water

Monday 26 September 2022

Unpacking details of the Cashless Debit Card Scheme rollback

 Reprinted without comment......

Ministers for the Department of Social Services, media release:

Empowering communities with the abolition of the cashless debit card program

24 September 2022

Joint with:

The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP

Minister for Social Services

Member for Kingston

The Hon Linda Burney MP

Minister for Indigenous Australians

Member for Barton

The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Minister for Government Services

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme

Member for Maribyrnong

The Hon Justine Elliot MP

Assistant Minister for Social Services

Member for Richmond

The Albanese Labor Government is delivering a long-term plan to ensure certainty, choice and support to communities moving off the cashless debit card program.

Following extensive consultation in sites across the nation, the Government has today announced a suite of measures that empowers local communities and will assist in abolishing the cashless debit card program and ensure communities are better off.

This will deliver on our election commitment to end a failed program.

The Government will abolish the cashless debit card program and make income management voluntary in Ceduna, East Kimberley, Goldfields and Bundaberg-Hervey Bay.

Under the plan, the Cape York region will retain all of its powers of self-determination and referral for community members to go onto income management under the Family Responsibilities Commission.

CDC participants in the Northern Territory will be subject to the requirements under previous income management legislation.

The plan will see around 17,300 individuals in cashless debit card program sites transition off the CDC and onto the new arrangements, or off the program completely.

Participants in Ceduna, East Kimberley, Goldfields and Bundaberg-Hervey Bay will be able to transition from October 4, subject to the passage of legislation.

The plan for the abolition of the cashless debit card program includes:

  • an updated income management technology solution with an enhanced card linked to Services Australia

  • a continuation of current community support services and addition of new services

  • legislative amendments to strengthen and streamline income management and oversight

  • delivering $49.9 million for additional alcohol and other drug treatment services and support in cashless debit card trial sites

  • providing $17 million for community-led and designed initiatives to support economic and employment opportunities in cashless debit card sites

  • additional staffing support from Services Australia to support communities through the transition

In the Northern Territory and Cape York and Doomadgee region – as well as volunteers in other sites – the transition to the new enhanced card will be completed early next year.

The changes have been communicated with states and territories, who have all indicated willingness to work with the Commonwealth on the longer-term issues facing these communities.

Updated Technology

Updated technology for people moving to income management will provide access to more merchants and facilitate BPAY and online shopping. Protections such as pin technology and consumer-driven product blocking will also be explored.

Crucially, under the changes all income management will be delivered by Services Australia. Individuals will no longer be required to deal with a private company for customer support functions.

The measures will restore the role of Services Australia in income management and provide enhanced choice.

Legislative changes

Amendments will be introduced to the Parliament on Monday to further affirm the role of the Family Responsibilities Commission in the Cape York region, ensure those on income management in the Northern Territory have access to the enhanced technology and allow people to volunteer to be on the updated solution.

Changes will be made to bring income management under one piece of legislation. Participants transitioning from CDC will have 50 per cent of their income quarantined and 50 per cent accessible in cash, except in Cape York where the Family Responsibilities Commission determines the appropriate proportion.

Stronger Services

A total of 44 essential support services in communities – such as the community bus in Ceduna for children who cannot access other transport – that were set to have funding expire next year, will continue.

A range of new support services, including those requested by communities during consultation with the Government, will also be developed and funded.

The government will also deliver $49.9 million for additional alcohol and other drug treatment services and support in the four CDC trial sites in Ceduna, East Kimberley, Goldfields and Bundaberg-Hervey Bay. These services will be co-designed with the local community to ensure the support meets local needs, in another example of the government supporting local decision-making and voices.

Funding will be used to support alcohol and other drug treatment that complements existing services, addresses service delivery gaps, and is consistent with the needs and expectations of the communities - designed to support First Nations and other people living in these locations.

As a critical first step, the Government will work with communities on a localised approach to funding alcohol and other drug treatment services for each location.

Strengthening economic development

A total of $17 million will be made available to support the creation of economic and employment opportunities in cashless debit card sites following the abolition of the CDC program.

The grant funding will be directed towards community-led and designed initiatives, in line with our principles of self-determination and choice.

Additional staffing support

Additional front of house staff from Services Australia will be provided in cashless debit card program sites over the transition period.

Staff will support community engagement activities, including Indigenous Service Officers and Community Engagement Officers and there will be additional Remote Servicing visits arranged. More Financial Information Service (FIS) Officers will also be available to work with individuals on budgeting issues or more complex financial issues.

Social Workers will be available to work with individuals with more complex issues. Additional specialist staff may be deployed into CDC sites during the transition period if the need arises.

The Department of Social Services will also provide additional social supports as required in response to the need of the individual CDC communities.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said the Albanese Labor Government was delivering on its election commitment to abolish the CDC program and had carefully considered measures that would help communities.

This package will deliver real solutions for those communities who were subject to the cashless debit card trial and provide choice and long-term certainty into the future,” Minister Rishworth said.

We’ve heard from communities about what they need and these measures deliver on that.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said the Government has listened to local communities and would continue to consult community-by-community on the future of income management.

Entrenched disadvantage must be tackled by adequate support that addresses the causes of that underlying disadvantage and build capacity.” Minister Burney said.

Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten said restoring the role of Services Australia would result in those on income management receiving the right support services.

Services Australia is the Government’s key implementation agency and will work to deliver the policy as laid out under the Government’s plans,” Minister Shorten said.

Assistant Minister for Social Services Justine Elliot said hearing first-hand what communities wanted had informed this package.

I’ve been out on the ground consulting and the package we have delivered is comprehensive and it is what communities want,” Assistant Minister Elliot said.

The Albanese Labor Government remains committed to making income management voluntary over the long term for those 24,000 people on IM nationally.

We will continue consultation over the next 18-months to ensure communities are supported to decide what the future of IM looks like for them.

This is important work but we have to ensure we are consulting thoroughly and listening to communities.

Information about the changes will be distributed in First Nations languages and dedicated Commonwealth support teams will be deployed to assist with the transition.