Page 232 - Week 01 - Thursday, 10 February 2022

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(c) value of establishing, and possible roles of, a further tier of support to help with the clear up of storm damage, once the immediate emergency is over; and

(d) any other matter the Committee considers relevant; and

(4) requests the Committee to:

(a) encourage participation by affected individuals and groups by providing interpreter services, inviting confidential submissions, taking evidence in camera, holding documents in confidence where it considers it appropriate to do so, and otherwise making the hearings family-friendly and held virtually where applicable;

(b) consider whether to publish a discussion paper by 29 April 2022 and whether to provide an interim report before 9 June 2022; and

(c) report back to the Assembly by 1 September 2022, before the next storm season.”

I thank Mr Milligan for bringing this matter to the Assembly. Before I address the substantive matter, I would like to acknowledge the hardship that the recent storms brought to our fellow Canberrans, and to thank all of the people who helped their neighbours through this really difficult time.

Whilst this region has always been susceptible to storms, we know that the impacts of climate change mean that storms will become more frequent and more severe. As a result, they will create more damage and our response to storms will become a more frequent consideration. How we prepare for that future is critical. So I am genuinely grateful for the opportunity to talk about it. As is clear from the amendment, I support the idea of an inquiry to learn any lessons and consider how we prepare for the future.

We are all aware of the impact of the recent storm in Belconnen and how it affected people’s homes and people’s lives. Following the storm, crews from across the ACT government proactively got to work immediately in the aftermath, clearing debris and removing fallen trees across roads and paths to make them safe and accessible as soon as possible. In many cases, this meant people returning to work early from their leave to help out. In addition to this proactive approach, crews responded quickly to hundreds of requests for assistance from the community.

Over the several weeks that followed, City Services staff then got to work proactively auditing verges in every Belconnen suburb and are now out there assessing the impact on parks and open spaces. If residents have raised a matter through Fix My Street, they can be assured it will be assessed, prioritised and responded to as part of the broader clean-up effort. We know that this work will take several months and we appreciate the community’s patience during this time.

In addition, I would like to pay tribute to members of the Canberra Relief Network who supported the affected community with access to food in the immediate aftermath of the storms. In addition to the physical impacts of the storms, we need to consider how we help our communities recover from the experience. Once the physical damage has been fixed, how do we help our communities get back on track?

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