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EXCLUSIVE: 93% of major flood relief fund not used 11 months after disaster, local Shire calls roll out "timely"

Giovanni Torre -

Less than seven per cent of a $12.5million relief fund has been distributed to flood victims, almost one year on from the natural disaster in WA's Kimberley region.

Despite the pace of the rollout, a Shire of Derby West Kimberley spokesperson said the local government has worked alongside the fund "to ensure evidentiary requirements are met as well as ensuring the needs of our impacted residents are adequately addressed in a timely manner".

The Lord Mayor's Disaster Relief Fund raised $12.02million from donations and the Fund's board pitched in $500,000 itself to support the communities affected by widespread flooding in Western Australia's far north in January.

This week, the Fund's Presiding Chair and City of Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas confirmed to the National Indigenous Times that "as of 29 November 2023, $860,500 has been disbursed to 24 eligible applicants".

"Over the coming months, funds will continue to be disbursed to privately owned residential properties, fixtures and contents, vehicle repairs and replacements, the pastoral industry and to the repair and recovery of homemaker centres," he said.

The Lord Mayor said the fund's board "continues to take advice from State Government and Shire of Derby West Kimberley to ensure all donations raised are distributed to the communities impacted by the devastating flooding event".

A WA government spokesperson said the fund was managed by the City of Perth.

A Shire of Derby West Kimberley spokesperson told National Indigenous Times the Shire was not concerned by the pace of the funding allocation.

"The Shire is actively working with the LMDRF to facilitate the submission and subsequent review of applications by the Lord Mayor Fund Board. The LMDRF has been committed to ensuring that the funds reach those impacted directly by the floods," they said.

"The first tranche of funding provided impacted private home owners a level of funding dependent on the degree of impact to their dwelling. The Shire assisted the private home owners to have their homes assessed, collate their applications and then submit to the Fund. The Shire and the LMDRF have worked to simplify the process where possible."

The Shire said that its administrative support costs have not been factored into the distribution of funds, and also that it could no comment on who/which bodies had received support from the fund to date.

"The Shire plays a supportive role in the application process by guiding individuals on available resources and aiding them throughout the application process. However, the Shire does not have a role in the allocation of funds under the LMDRF and, consequently, is unable to provide details on successful applicants," they said.

"The Shire has worked closely with the LMDRF to ensure that funding allocation addresses the greatest personal needs of those directly impacted by the floods. This has involved assisting the fund to identify the needs of those affected and then assisting with the application process to streamline the process for those who have had so much to overcome this last year.

"Some examples include: Project Support to those that have had to navigate the complex tasks of pulling together the quotes and plan for rebuilding costs for homes that are either beyond repair, requiring major or minor refurbishment; assisting affected residents of the flood affected areas to complete their application to apply for the funding available for replacing vehicles that incurred flood damage whether they need replacement or repair; and hands-on community development support to those flood affected communities who wish to reactivate their community spaces."

More to come.

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