Report highlights: Flood housing response

What this report is about

Extreme rainfall across eastern Australia in 2021 and 2022 led to a series of major flood events in New South Wales.

This audit assessed how effectively the NSW Government provided emergency accommodation and temporary housing in response to the early 2022 Northern Rivers and late 2022 Central West flood events.

Responsible agencies included in this audit were the Department of Communities and Justice, NSW Reconstruction Authority, the former Department of Planning and Environment, the Department of Regional NSW and the Premier’s Department.

Audit findings

The Department of Communities and Justice rapidly provided emergency accommodation to displaced persons immediately following these flood events.

There was no plan in place to guide a temporary housing response and agencies did not have agency-level plans for implementing their responsibilities.

The NSW Government rapidly procured and constructed temporary housing villages. However, the amount of temporary housing provided did not meet the demand.

There is an extensive waitlist for temporary housing and the remaining demand in the Northern Rivers is unlikely to be met. The NSW Reconstruction Authority has not reviewed this list to confirm its accuracy.

Demobilisation plans for the temporary housing villages have been developed, but there are no long-term plans in place for the transition of tenants out of the temporary housing.

Agencies are in the process of evaluating the provision of emergency accommodation and temporary housing.
The findings from the 2022 statewide lessons process largely relate to response activities.

Audit recommendations

The NSW Reconstruction Authority should:

  • develop a plan for the provision of temporary housing
  • review the temporary housing waitlist
  • determine a timeline for demobilising the temporary housing villages
  • develop a strategy to manage the transition of people into long-term accommodation
  • develop a process for statewide recovery lessons learned.

All audited agencies should:

  • finalise evaluations of their role in the provision of emergency accommodation and temporary housing
  • develop internal plans for implementing their roles under statewide plans.

Fast facts

  • 1,440 people housed in emergency accommodation in the Northern Rivers at its peak in April 2022
  • 11 temporary housing sites constructed
  • 546 temporary dwellings placed on villages in the Northern Rivers
  • 93 people housed in emergency accommodation in the three weeks following the Central West flood event
  • 59 pods installed on private property in the Central West by May 2023
  • 124 caravans placed on private property in the Central West by May 2023

Further information

Please contact Ian Goodwin, Deputy Auditor-General on 9275 7347 or by email.