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Disaster recovery - essential public asset restoration

Optimising councils’ post-disaster response

April 2021

Key issues

Following an eligible disaster, state and federal funding is available to help councils restore essential public assets through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA). Councils’ obligations under DRFA include admin and reporting, damage assessment and the project management of repair works. This additional workload compounds a council’s normal workload and capital works program, so can stretch the council’s resource capacity. Morrison Low provides expert assistance and we can ensure that council maximises its ability to secure available funding. Additionally, the cost of our services is usually eligible to be reimbursed through DRFA.

What does DRFA fund?

  • Emergent works such as temporary protection prior to a disaster, immediate clean-up, and immediate repair works necessary to make safe.
  • Immediate reconstruction works where works are urgent, essential and can be completed (within 3 months).
  • Restoration of essential public assets (REPA) includes longer term repair and reconstruction works. Often this includes:
    • roads, culverts, bridges, tunnels and associated infrastructure
    • public housing
    • flood levees, stormwater infrastructure
    • essential council buildings.

Council responsibilities for REPA

  • Admin - notification of event and setup for capturing financial data.
  • Damage assessment - including collection of photographic evidence of damage, and estimation of reconstruction cost (to restore asset to pre-disaster condition).
  • Demonstration of cause of damage - only damage that is the direct result of an eligible disaster is eligible, not damage that is attributable to poor design, poor construction or poor maintenance.
  • Application to relevant agency for DRFA funding (within 6 months).
  • Obtaining approval of REPA application, agreement of scope of works and total upper limit grant agreed with relevant agency.
  • Project management of reconstruction works (within 2 years).
  • Mitigation of costs and compliance with probity, transparency and value-for-money all demand implementation of sound procurement and project delivery processes.

Eligible expenses under REPA

  • Consultants and contractors engaged specifically in relation to damage assessment, project management, design and delivery of restoration works generally constitute eligible expenditure, provided the council doesn’t have spare capacity to undertake the work using its own staff, or if value-for-money can be demonstrated.
  • Day labour costs (direct staff costs only) may be claimable, subject to conditions.

Ineligible expenses

  • Council staff costs are generally not eligible, though in some cases additional overtime may be claimable.
  • Cost of preparation of DRFA claim, and demonstration of causes of damage are not eligible. Where we are engaged to provide these services we will separate these costs from other eligible works to ensure transparency.

Where can Morrison Low help?

  • Council is best placed to handle emergent works and immediate reconstruction works.
  • Morrison Low can assist council meet its obligations in relation to REPA works:
    • procure damage assessment specialists to deploy purpose-built video capture technology
    • schedule, scope and estimate eligible costs
    • prepare application (if required)
    • project manage engineering consultants and reconstruction contractors
    • we will work in close consultation with the council’s engineering and asset staff throughout, to ensure the council is empowered to make decisions.
  • Using our service ensures eligible grant funding is not foregone due to council capacity constraints.

Why choose Morrison Low?

  • Domain expertise - Morrison Low understands how councils work. We have a proven track record working in all aspects of a council’s financial reporting and infrastructure delivery pipeline.
  • Corporate knowledge - we have successfully delivered similar NDRRA assistance work for NSW councils.
  • Program expertise - our project management specialist, Adam Matthews, led a team that delivered $1.4 billion of post-disaster REPA work during Queensland’s series of cyclones from 2010 to 2015.

Need more information?

Please contact Stephen Bunting on 0418 124 437, or Adam Matthews on 0414 990 209.