Queensland buy-back scheme brings peace of mind
From February to April 2022, Queensland and New South Wales experienced wide-spread flooding. Many families were forced to evacuate as the treacherous waters swept through and damaged their homes.
Through the Resilient Homes Fund, Queenslanders whose homes were damaged by flooding in the 2021-22 disaster season could be considered for a range of options including retrofitting, house raising or the voluntary buy-back of homes at high risk from future floods.
We spoke to three flood-impacted families in Brisbane who have been able to accept a voluntary home buy-back offer as part of the Resilient Homes Fund.
All three families, now living in new homes, spoke about having a renewed sense of wellbeing after a long period of high stress and the disruption of couch surfing, temporary accommodation and relying on friends and family for safe accommodation.
Queensland buy-back in Auchenflower
Hannah and Shane Caller have vivid memories of evacuating their Auchenflower home in waist-high water with their young child and family dog. They felt the Voluntary Home Buy-Back program was their only choice, as further raising their house was no guarantee that it would be safe-guarded against a future event. Since having their house bought-back they’ve been incredibly relieved.
The couple also reiterated how costly and stressful it would be to try and rebuild. “We’re so grateful for the buy-back scheme. It is such a relief, we couldn’t afford to try and fix our house,” said Hannah.
Shane confirmed this sense of relief and was hopeful the future, “Now we can draw a line in the sand and move on,” he said.
A light at the end of the tunnel for Deception Bay residents
Miika and Melina Pukhakka of Deception Bay also had to quickly get out of their house as waters continued to rise. “We thought we had time to have showers, but we could hear water bubbling up in the sewerage lines… we were lucky to be able to get out of our street as one end was already underwater,” said Melina. The couple were overjoyed to be able to spend Christmas 2022 in their new home, particularly because they finally had their own space.
Melina outlined the stressors of the family of three having to share a mattress for many months and living in cramped conditions. “Now in our new house we’re more relaxed and fighting less, simply because we have enough space to get some sleep.”
Melina, whilst having no desire to live through the last year again, was hopeful about the future, “We did what we had to do to get through to the next stage until you can see light at the end of the tunnel… but in the end it has all worked out.”.
Rebuilding community in Rocklea
Luke Hardwick-Greaves is a father to a young family whose Rocklea home was extensively damaged during the floods. Luke believes that the Queensland buy-back scheme should be used as a precedent for other communities going through early stages of recovery.
“It [the buy-back scheme] stops the cycle of damage and takes away the worry about being flooded again, every time it rains. It is allowing residents to have a brighter and more secure future.”
He also had this piece of advice about the importance of establishing good social connections in the community before the next disaster strikes.
“If we were to have street parties, we can get to know our community. It would be great to know where elderly people and other vulnerable groups are who might need greater support but also to know about the strengths of the community - as in, who could do what when disaster strikes. This helps to enable more resilience and provide a much better bounce back,” Luke stated.
As we reflect on the year of recovery following the early 2022 floods, we thank all three families for sharing their experiences, and hope they enjoy the peace of their new homes.
Jointly funded through Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA), the $741 million Resilient Homes Fund is the largest of its kind to ever be delivered in Australia and is in response to these devastating floods.