Six weeks after devastating floods swept through parts of southeast Queensland, people who lost everything are still waiting for government funding to rebuild their homes.
- Many flood grants are only available to residents earning around $51,000 a year
- Flood-hit Queenslanders hope government’s $741million flood program will provide relief
- Acting Prime Minister Cameron Dick said the package ‘would take some time’ to reach residents
On Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced he would go halfway with the state government on a $741million package, which includes grants for people to renovate, raise or resell their flood-hit homes. .
The package is good news for Rocklea resident Lu Xia, who has been unable to access any grants since her home was flooded.
“It’s as if we were [stuck] in the middle of nowhere,” Ms. Lu said.
“If this can happen with the support of all levels – federal, state and municipal – working together to address this issue, I would be very grateful.
“My boy has to go to school and I have to plan where I will live in the future.”
“Subsidies to which I am not entitled”
Rocklea resident Lee-Ann Handley is in a similar position.
The only government assistance she has been able to claim is the one-time $1,000 disaster payment and she relies on donations from charities to get by.
“When it comes to help and funding, people keep asking me ‘oh, you know, well, there’s all this great help’…but most of the help I have received is from friends or family who dug in and helped me because I couldn’t access these grants.”
Because Ms. Handley earns more than $51,000 a year, she is not eligible for the Structural Assistance Grant, the Essential Household Contents Grant, and the Essential Services Safety and Reconnection Grant.
She’s used loans, her super and even money from her daughter’s savings to get her house back into livable condition.
“I don’t know how many community recovery people wandered down the street to give me a nice colorful brochure with a QR code to scan these grants I don’t qualify for.”
‘Light at the end of the tunnel’
Ms Handley hopes she will qualify for the latest $741million package and not have to wait much longer for aid to reach her.
“It’s finally some light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
“But if it’s 12 months from now, where will I be? I have to magically come up with $30,000 next week.”
Acting Queensland Premier Cameron Dick said the scale of the $741 million package means it will “take some time” to deliver.
“This is the largest such proposal and the largest such project ever delivered in Australia,” Mr Dick said.
He said the $51,398 income threshold was a means test put in place by the federal government.
“These are very important events and it is not possible to compensate everyone for every loss they have suffered,” he said.
The Prime Minister’s Office has been contacted for comments regarding the income eligibility criteria.