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Experts call for National Relocation Authority

A national authority is needed to “spearhead” the relocation of hundreds of thousands of high-risk homes, a group of academics say in a new report.

The paper – Relocating Australian Communities at Risk: Strategies and Actions in Time – aims to contribute to “an emerging yet crucial national conversation on the necessity of developing and implementing a national relocation strategy for at-risk communities in Australia”.

Following the record-breaking 2022 floods, NSW and Queensland have offered buyback programs for the worst-affected residents. But the academics say much more is needed, and call for a nationally co-ordinated, proactive program.

“The devastating 2022 floods in northern NSW demonstrate the dangers of failing to move communities from harm’s way,” the authors say. “More than two years after the disaster, the city of Lismore is still recovering. Many people remain in temporary housing and cannot return home, reopen businesses or access funds to move elsewhere.

“But there is an alternative. We can plan ahead, identify areas most at risk and permanently relocate communities before disaster strikes. Our recent paper outlines the pressing need for such a strategy and offers guidance on how to do it.

“Crucially, we call for the establishment of a National Relocation Authority to spearhead the strategy.”

See Analysis.