August 21 - 27, 2022: Issue 551


Independent Flood Inquiry Report - Narrabeen, warriewood

From March 31st to April 2nd 2022, a slow-moving east coast low intensified off the NSW Central Coast with a gale force south-easterly wind over the western Tasman Sea. Powerful swell caused large, sustained waves at beaches from the Illawarra to the Central Coast. This saw severe beach erosion at the northern ends of beaches and localised inundation because of wave energy which transferred into coastal lagoons at Wamberal, Avoca, Narrabeen and Queenscliff.

On Wednesday August 17th the NSW Government released and responded to the 28 recommendations of the independent Flood Inquiry, commissioned in response to the major floods earlier this year.

This is a comprehensive report providing lucid ways forward for all communities through a set of recommendations that have identified problems and how to address the same. 

As floods are continuously impacting on our own local communities, from Manly to Palm Beach, and especially in suburb historically prone to flooding - at Newport, Narrabeen, Collaroy and Queenscliff, the report may be of interest to residents.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the recommendations of the report provide a blueprint for change and practical actions to ensure communities and government can prepare for floods in the future, and recover faster. 

“We now have a pathway to better prepare for, respond to and recover from future floods across NSW, that also builds on the ongoing flood recovery efforts that are taking place,” Mr Perrottet said. 

“Work will start on implementing a number of the recommendations immediately, while other recommendations will require further work and be implemented in stages, with ongoing community consultation and engagement.

“I want to thank Professor Mary O’Kane AC and former NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller APM for their research, engagement and expert input into this report.

“I’d also like to thank all the community members and stakeholders who contributed their experiences and knowledge as part of the submission process.”

Key recommendations include:

  • A reshaping of Resilience NSW to Recovery NSW to ensure a more streamlined agency focussed on the first 100 days post disaster;
  • Migration off high-risk floodplains over time using a mixture of planning controls, landswaps, buy-backs and leveraging private investment in new developments;
  • A dedicated Task Force Hawk to ensure emergency management is embedded at the highest level of the NSW Government;
  • The establishment of a NSW Reconstruction Authority with legislation to be introduced by the end of the year;
  • Creation of a full time Deputy Commissioner of Police focused on emergency management;
  • Training for the community to assist with their ability to respond and recover from disasters; as well as greater training and support for the SES;
  • Greater emphasis on affordable housing in the Northern Rivers, with adaptation plans for towns also to be developed over the next 3-5 years.

One of the Recommendations is making the state government Planning Department responsible for providing access for landholders and homeowners to floodplain information has not been supported outright by the state government. At present that remains the responsibility of councils. However the recommendation that maps that had been 

Earlier in 2022 Pittwater Online reported Minister for Planning and Minister for Homes Anthony Roberts announcing the SEPP for Design and Place would be ditchedThe Design and Place State Environmental Planning Policy set a path for net zero, more tree canopy and green spaces, better ventilation of apartments, and resilience to heat, flood and fire threats, and requirements to assess where dwellings would be built, in particular whether they are in a flood zone or in a bushfire risk area registered by the NSW RFS. The proposed comprehensive Place and Design SEPP, which included updates to the Apartment Design Guide, The Building Sustainability Index (BASIX), a new Urban Development Guide and Design Review Manual.

Of the 28 recommendations, the NSW Government has supported 6 recommendations and supported in principle 22 recommendations. Of those supported in principle, further work will be undertaken on implementation including consultation with key stakeholders. Further detail on the implementation of all 28 recommendations will be released later this year.

The Inquiry received 1,494 submissions and held 144 meetings with stakeholders, including face-to-face and online community forums in Lismore, Tumbulgum and Mullumbimby, as well as the Clarence and Hawkesbury-Nepean regions.

Recommendation 17: Landholders Can Access Information on Previous Disasters

That, to ensure there is a single source of ground truth to prepare for and respond to emergencies, and to provide people with a better understanding of their individual property and community risk exposure, an online visualisation tool be developed to display, for all land parcels (land titles) in NSW, the extent of known disasters that have affected each piece of land in NSW in the past. This information should be made available through the Planning Portal and, particularly in light of climate change, the data involved should be revised and updated at least every two years and after each major natural disaster.

Response: Supported in principle – further work required on implementation; The NSW Government will consider opportunities to improve access to information on individual and community risk exposure, noting this information is already publicly available.

Department of Planning readily accessible Maps? - No- :  Perhaps it's theNSW flood data portal (The data is added by councils or other authorised groups, allowing the information to be shared by government agencies and other stakeholders. The portal is part of the NSW Flood Data Access Program, a joint partnership between the NSW State Emergency Service and the Department of Planning and Environment. The responsibility of providing flood information to the public remains with local government. );

Considering flooding in land use planning guideline - Proposal only—not government policy (2020)

''This guideline helps NSW communities to be more resilient to flooding beyond the 1% Annual Exceedance Probability1 (AEP). This involves considering the management of flood risk for the full range of flooding up to the Probable Maximum Flood (PMF).

This is consistent with the NSW Government’s Flood Prone Land Policy, set out in the NSW Floodplain Development Manual, which supports the resilient development of flood-prone land. Flood-prone land, or the floodplain, is defined in the manual as the land susceptible to flooding by the PMF event. The policy acknowledges that flood-prone land is a valuable resource that should not be sterilised by unnecessarily precluding its development. It outlines that each local council is responsible for managing the flood risk to reduce the risk to life, property damage and other impacts in their local government area. ''

and ''All areas where flood-related development controls apply should be mapped and maps made publicly available. This could entail being published in Development Control Plans, Local Environment Plan, other relevant environmental planning instruments or on a council website.'' 

AND: ''Extent and behaviour of flooding. Understanding the extent of the full range of flood events and how flood function and flood hazard may change between events can enable the associated constraints on land to be considered in decision-making. This is discussed in Developing Flood Information to Support Land Use Planning2 (Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, 2020). 2 Note – these documents are currently in draft and are anticipated to be released as part of the Floodplain Development Manual update

Updated guidance for councils - from: finalised flood-prone land package commenced on 14 July 2021.

The package provides advice to councils on considering flooding in land-use planning and includes:

    • a revised 9.1 local planning direction on flooding (PDF, 460 KB)
    • a new planning circular on flooding PS21-006
    • a new guideline: Considering Flooding in Land Use Planning
    • the Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Amendment (Flood Planning) Order 2021
    • the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Flood Planning) Regulation 2021
    • the State Environmental Planning Policy Amendment (Flood Planning) 2021.

To accompany the finalised package, a submission’s report is also available. The report summarises feedback received during exhibition and how that feedback was addressed in the final documents.

The updated guidance, the department of Planning webpage states:

    • supports better management of flood risk beyond the 1% annual exceedance probability
    • ensures best management practices in managing and mitigating severe to extreme flood events
    • builds greater resilience into communities in floodplains and reduces potential property damage and loss of life in recognition of increasing extreme flood events throughout NSW.

For further information about the changes:

Councils' expression of interest; ''The department has asked councils to submit their interest to incorporate the optional standard instrument ‘special flood considerations’ clause to apply to their LEP. Following the expression of interest, we will undertake targeted engagement with relevant councils and develop an appropriate review mechanism, seeking external views, to assist both a council and the department in evaluating whether the adoption of the clause in the local environmental plan is appropriate.'' More information  If you have any queries, you can contact

Recommendation 18: Risk-based Approach to Calculating Flood Planning Level

That, to take account of greater knowledge of climate change, Government reinforce its adoption of a risk-based approach to calculating the flood planning level for planning purposes and, through the NSWRA, immediately start a process of revising all flood planning level calculations in the state’s high-risk catchments. 

Flood planning level re-determinations for all high-risk catchments should be completed within 3 years. These revised flood planning levels will need to be factored into all development applications (in-progress and new) in those high-risk catchments. The risk profile of high-risk catchments should be revisited at appropriate time intervals to check that levels are current. A review should take place if there has been a significant trigger event (i.e. changed rainfall, development) or at least every 5 years. As well as reviewing the flood planning level, this 5-yearly review should include reviewing any floodplain lease conditions and adjusting them as necessary in the light of better knowledge of climate change impacts. 

In working out a tolerable, risk-based flood planning level, consideration should be given to the PMF, 1%AEP, 0.02%AEP, existing development, approved but not yet constructed developments, and existing and approved but not yet constructed evacuation routes.

In coordinating this flood planning level re-determination process, NSWRA should work closely with local councils, DPE, communities, state water authorities and state and national engineering and research organisations. In doing so, the NSWRA should also:

• extend and then maintain the DPE state-wide flood database and associated visualisation interface. This database, which should link to LandiQ, would support:

• monitoring of the flood warning and sensing environment

• monitoring of trends in rainfall activity and impacts, including timing, cause, extent and intensity

• tracking trends and identifying patterns in associated weather and climate signals that contribute to severe floods

• evaluation of the cost and effectiveness of risk mitigation efforts, including land preparation, planning use and management, to enable a better understanding of what works

• simulation of extreme rainfall events and resultant flooding

• identification of ‘at risk’ river and catchment systems for flash flooding

• rapid and effective deployment of resources during a flash flood event

• act as the main coordination point for all NSW hydrological modelling, working with local government, other state agencies, universities, professional bodies (e.g. Engineers Australia) and the Australian Government (especially the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO) to improve future NSW flood risk assessment (and hence accuracy and timeliness of flood prediction) by building more formal connections between the extensive existing physical hydrological modelling (done by various NSW agencies) with the Bureau’s meteorological and climatological research and riverine flood models

• support local councils to improve modelling of and ensure adequate and appropriate alarm systems for flash flooding.

Response:  Supported in principle – further work required on implementation. The NSW Government supports improved flood planning, in particular for high-risk catchments. Consideration will be given to how the Government can support a consistent approach to flood planning via pilots.

Recommendation 19: Disaster Adaptation Plans for All Towns

That, to establish realistic expectations of safe spaces to live and deliver much needed housing quickly, Government through NSWRA working with local government:

• build a disaster adaptation plan for each city and town, with planning instruments discouraging (and in many cases forbidding) development in disaster-likely areas. These plans should be developed under the NSW Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. For towns at high risk, this should be completed within 3 years, with the rest of the state to be completed within 5 years. To develop these plans, it will be necessary to prioritise modelling of the impact of and evacuation possibilities from likely potential disasters as well as modelling the direct impact of the potential disasters themselves. For floods this can be done by continuing and broadening the flood modelling done in INSW to other high-risk catchments. This flood modelling activity should be moved to the NSWRA from the two groups it is currently with (INSW’s Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley Flood Risk Management Directorate and the Department of Planning and Environment’s Environment and Heritage Group)

• through NSWRA, working with local councils, complete the first sweep of plans including appropriate hazard maps (including but not limited to flood, fire and landslip) and link them to Strategic Plans and LEPs (updating as necessary). An accreditation process should be implemented so local councils with demonstrated capacity can seek accreditation with the NSWRA to maintain their own disaster adaptation plans with oversight (spot audits) by NSWRA

use the disaster adaptation plans including the disaster/evacuation modelling to resolve existing rezonings currently on hold especially for the North-West corridor of Sydney. Future residential development in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley should be increasingly discouraged in favour of rapid development near train stations and other facilities in flood-safe areas

• use the disaster adaptation plans including the disaster/evacuation modelling and the options spelled out in the Northern Rivers case study to inform town planning, relocation options, buy backs and land swaps for the flood affected Northern Rivers region with the NSWRA (and in the lead up to the NSWRA’s creation, the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation) urgently commencing a phased program to migrate people off the highest-risk areas of the Lismore floodplain, and other Northern Rivers floodplains, through a significantly expanded land swap and voluntary house purchase scheme, with priority given to our most vulnerable community members

prioritise and incentivise new development in safe areas, noting this will often mean encouraging first home buyers to choose homes in appropriate density developments, including high-rise developments, through siting such new developments in locations with desirable attributes (near train stations, parkland, shopping centres, etc.) In this regard, Government should focus on redeveloping existing Government land in these locations

• for existing developments which are in disaster-likely areas, ensure evacuation routes are available and of sufficient capacity; the community is well-educated about the risks they face and how and when to evacuate; and any modifications of existing buildings are approved only if they maximally address the relevant risk (e.g. apartment buildings have the first few floors dedicated to parking so residents can shelter in place if necessary) noting that shelter in place only works if the flood waters come up and go down quickly, and if other essential services (water, electricity, sewerage, access to food and medical supplies, etc) are available

• using the Six Cities Region as an inspiration, consider developing another strategic city cluster in NSW, prioritising safety from fire and flood along with affordable housing; new industries offering well-paid employment; living within 30 minutes of the workplace; and offering access to education and training at all levels.

Response: Supported in principle – further work required on implementation. Further consideration needs to be given to the implications of this recommendation and the appropriate timeframes for delivery, in consultation with communities likely to be impacted.

Response: Supported in principle – further work required on implementation. Further consideration needs to be given to the implications of this recommendation and the appropriate timeframes for delivery, in consultation with communities likely to be impacted.

Recommendation 20: Floodplains as Assets

That, to establish the capacity and maximise the economic, social and environmental potential and consequently unlock the value of NSW floodplains, Government adopt the following guiding principles for floodplain management:

treat floodplains as an asset, specialising in uses that are productive and minimise risk to life during major weather events. Such uses would include sporting and recreational activities, garden plots and community gardens, agriculture and forestry, renewable energy production, biodiversity offsets, parks and outdoor education activities. Government should progressively move floodplain ownership to Government leasehold with lessees using the land under appropriately specified conditions. The management of the process of conversion to leasehold would be a Special Project of the NSWRA but over time handing the floodplain asset over to management by another government agency. The NSRWA should prioritise rapid conversion to leasehold in cases where houses and businesses are in high-risk areas –this may be accomplished by land swaps or buy backs. In doing so Government achieves early wins for new uses. In other cases, the conversion should occur as a condition of development, of a type that is consistent with safe evacuation or safety in place in the case of flash flooding that recedes rapidly

treat development of the floodplain in parallel with development of urban structures (houses, businesses and industry) that are built near to the edge of the floodplain. Examples of connection could include high-rise housing developments where apartment owners are granted automatic rights and access to community garden and community recreation facilities. Structures within the floodplain and surrounding development should be connected by a layer of sustainable transport

favour letting watercourses largely flow naturally rather than implementing engineering barriers such as flood levees and mitigation schemes to stop floods

• communicate the intention to use planning arrangements that will lead to greater safety and community amenity as well as realising a significant state asset. This needs to be communicated in general to the people of NSW, but also to those particularly affected communities at the time of planning, rebuilding and construction.

Response: Supported in principle – further work required on implementation. The NSW Government supports exploring options to unlock the value of NSW floodplains. The NSW Government will look for options to pilot the approach in the Northern Rivers as a first step.

Recommendation 22: Relocating Communities Most At Risk With Good Homes and Amenities

That, to empower vulnerable people and communities to relocate, Government through the NSWRA:

• identify and prioritise those communities most at risk from future disasters, and for whom relocation may be appropriate or necessary

• leverage the work done through Government’s homes, cities, manufacturing and skills policies, to collaborate and work with these communities in examining, designing, building and installing affordable, attractive and insurable housing options (e.g. locally fabricated high quality modular homes, or utilising local builders to retrofit and/or relocate existing homes to safer ground) and to enable small housing developments with capacity to grow organically over time

• utilise best-practice policy for rapid urbanism and community-building to establish new settlements. This should include

- an enquiry-by-design or charrette process led by the Government Architect to ensure that new settlements reflect the aspirations and vernacular of the local community, whilst meeting the technical needs of establishing settlements and delivering infrastructure at low cost. This should also include considering how to repurpose floodplains for community use and benefit, i.e. recreation, sports and energy production as part of the process of returning land below the flood planning level to Government ownership. It should also consider the role of locally manufactured, well-designed and regulated modular housing solutions

- promoting a sense of community by ensuring appropriate amenity (e.g. schools, shops, and services) is available to relocating people and communities at the time of moving to their new settlements

- working with the financial and philanthropic sectors to investigate a special purpose fund to provide continuing support for these communities as they transit through re-establishment.

Response: Supported in principle – further work required on implementation. The NSW Government supports the objective of empowering vulnerable communities who are most at risk of future disasters to relocate. However, this is a long-term objective and requires significant further work and community consultation.

Given the immediate needs of flood impacted areas in the Northern Rivers, the NSW Government, via the NRRC, will soon commence a process to support the relocation of people most at risk in certain areas. This includes commencing an expression of interest process to identify land suitable for housing development (including via land swaps) and creating a State Environmental Planning Policy to fast-track rezoning.

The lessons learned from this process, and consultation with communities most likely to be impacted, will inform any future relocation initiatives.

Recommendation 23: Housing and Development Funding Options

That, to empower vulnerable people and communities to avoid significant impacts from flood as well as drive broader investment in adaptation, Government through NSWRA:

• consider establishing a NSW Mitigation Fund as a form of secured finance as a lien on title, such as rates-based or utility-based financing, to allow the

Government to harness private sector monies to deliver cost-effective flood-resilient retrofits for existing dwellings

• investigate whether trading mechanisms for development rights, renegotiation with developers with existing rights, or uplift value capture to fund buy-outs

could reduce existing and anticipated development in areas of greatest flood risks, with an initial focus on the Northern Rivers region and the Hawkesbury-Nepean. In doing so, Government should:

- ensure that tradeable rights facilitate the construction of additional homes in line with regional plans, in particular the Government’s six cities vision developed by the Greater Cities Commission

- fund voluntary property purchases in identified locations through the issuing of tradeable development rights

•work with the insurance industry to ensure that works are undertaken such that they would improve access to lower cost insurance products, improving upon existing guidelines from voluntary house raising schemes

• ensure that local delivery partners provide a seamless consumer experience in a cost-effective manner, whilst meeting community expectations for consumer protection and responsible lending

• consider how the NSW Mitigation Fund mechanism can address other adaptation and mitigation opportunities such as improving flood-resilience for structures in areas of extreme risk and reducing emissions and bills whilst improving human health outcomes through energy efficient retrofits and home electrification

Response: Supported in principle – further work required on implementation. Further consideration and consultation is required to consider the implications of this recommendation, and the best way to take forward the important issues identified.

24: Housing, Especially Social Housing

partnering with the development and community housing sectors to relocate flood prone social and affordable housing on the Hawkesbury-Nepean floodplain to new and attractive multi-use, medium density developments within the CBDs of Mount Druitt, Blacktown and other Western Sydney city centres

• under the leadership of the NSW Building Commissioner, developing a code for flood resilient, environmentally sustainable building that accounts for current and likely future supply chain disruptions and extends to modular and manufactured homes

• working with the Greater Cities Commission and regional councils to ensure future local housing strategies factor in the need for natural disaster emergency housing and promote resilient housing systems

• encouraging financial institutions and insurance companies to use pricing structures to incentivise the construction of more safely situated and resilient buildings

• supporting building industry skills growth and making building material supply chains more robust to insulate the economy from future natural disaster and other exogenous shocks

• ensuring building industry occupational health and safety regulations are enforced in the flood-affected areas rebuilding programs.

Response: Supported in principle – further work required on implementation. The NSW Government is committed to a sustainable housing sector, and is investing significant funding to address end-to-end housing across the state.

The NSW Government will explore financing options to support the delivery of increased social and affordable housing across the State. This includes the ability to leverage the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation and the Housing Australia Future Fund. As part of the NRRC’s master planning for Northern Rivers, the NSW Government will work to increase the total stock of social and affordable housing within Northern Rivers communities. As part of this, the NSW Government will seek to partner with the Commonwealth Government (Housing Australia) with a view to accessing a portion of the funds available under the Commonwealth’s commitment to build 30,000 new social housing dwellings over the next five years, for the benefit of the Northern Rivers. 

6 The Community First Responders Program

That, to better coordinate community efforts to save life and property during a disaster, Government create a ‘Community First Responders Program’, funding appropriate community equipment and training, particularly in high-risk catchments along the east coast of NSW. This training would be delivered by combat and/or other appropriate government agencies. This program could support and empower community led initiatives such as disaster response, evacuation centres and the provision of services such as psychological first aid.

To plan for volunteerism into the future, the State Emergency Management Committee (SEMC) commission a review of volunteerism in NSW, acknowledging it is essential to the state’s emergency response to protect life and property. This review needs to recommend a way forward for emergency volunteer agencies to respond to declining formal volunteerism and to make better use of Community First Responders. 

Further, to ensure Indigenous communities are included in emergency planning and preparation, emergency management processes incorporate the needs of Indigenous communities including for evacuation procedures and centres by:

• developing an Indigenous first responders program working with Aboriginal communities in flood affected regions to understand what is needed, and resourcing this program appropriately, and

• ensuring Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers (ACLO) form part of the Local Emergency Management Committees and are present at evacuation centres during a disaster to better serve Indigenous communities

Response: Supported. The NSW Government recognises the important role community plays in responding to natural disasters. It will consider opportunities to build on existing initiatives to better support, empower and invest in communities’ ability to do this. 

7 PIFAC Function

That, to ensure the community can better understand the threat of flood, storm and tsunami activity, the Department of Customer Service (DCS) be made accountable for PIFAC in all emergencies. This will improve access to clear, reliable and consistent messaging prior to and during emergencies. This transfers the PIFAC role from NSW Police Force to Service NSW. Under this PIFAC function, DCS would be responsible for:

• proactively assessing community sentiment and working with agencies to effectively disseminate key disaster information to all communities including vulnerable, culturally, linguistically, and religiously diverse communities

• coordinating clear, consistent, reliable messaging from all government agencies, especially during a disaster

• working with the SEMC, the Bureau of Meteorology, the new NSWRA and SEOCON to provide public statements evaluating the likely risk of flooding and the effectiveness of planning and preparation for the upcoming season. This should be based on sophisticated monitoring of key risk factors and signals for extreme flood events. It should form the basis for clear public communication about these risks on a regional basis and the actions that the Government proposes in preparation.

• working with the NSWRA and SEOCON to deliver a single communication tool for riverine floods, flash floods and dam warnings which uses all available inputs (such as information from the Bureau, real-time river and rain observations data and citizen science data) and provides an assessment of antecedent conditions (such as saturated catchments, soil moisture and water storage capacity). This information should be available to communities and individuals in real-time, on live warning signs in town centres (using satellite connections so they are not reliant on local telecommunications infrastructure)

• recognising that community will revert to social media platforms to self-organise when government is unable to respond, the NSW Government should also consider how to work with social media companies and online communities to ensure consistent messaging during an emergency. This may include directing individual users to Government platforms for updated information.

Response: Supported in principle – further work required on implementation. The NSW Government is committed to enhancing the ability of the PIFAC to provide clear, reliable and consistent messaging during emergencies. Further consultation and consideration is needed to determine the appropriate location for PIFAC, in the context of Government’s broader consideration of the emergency services organisational structure in response to recommendations 3 and 5.

 NSW Disaster App

That, to improve community confidence in government messaging and warnings, the SEOCON and DCS develop a single ‘NSW disaster app’. This:

• will consolidate individual agencies warning apps

• have a simple interface that is accessible via mobile devices

• provide real time flood warnings and information, both raw information from gauges and processed information from publicly available models

• allow citizens to provide information during a flood to help authorities and community, including flood imagery and local knowledge observations in the lead into, during and immediately after flood events.

Further, the SEOCON and DCS develop a single impact assessment tool accessible by DCS/Service NSW to expediate grants for and insurance claims on homes and businesses.

Response: Supported. The NSW Government has already commenced the development of the HazardWatch app, which is due to launch by the end of the year with an initial focus on floods. Over the coming years it will be expanded to include all hazards and incidents occurring in NSW and across Australia.

11 Task Force Hawk

That, to ensure disaster readiness, Government establish a high-level Government standing committee, Task Force ‘Hawk’, comprising key Cabinet Ministers, Secretaries and Commissioners that meets, trains and exercises to ensure Government is prepared to respond to any emergency. Task Force ‘Hawk’ should resonate with the community in difficult times to ensure the highest level of confidence in Government’s response.

Further, to improve the preparation for and timely response to disasters, and to ensure the emergency management systems and plans are fit for purpose, effective and appropriate, within 12 months Government, via the SEOCON, ensure all emergency management processes and plans have been updated and implemented.

Response: Supported. The Crisis Policy Committee currently performs most of these functions. Government will strengthen the operation of the Committee to ensure it brings together key Ministers, Secretaries and Commissioners to meet, train and exercise to ensure Government is prepared to respond to any emergency.

12 SES and RFS Back-Office Merger

That, to help protect life and property across NSW in storm and flood events, and to improve resourcing and NSW State Emergency Service (SES) frontline capability, Government implement, before the next storm season, a merger of the SES and NSW Rural Fire Services (RFS) back-office and corporate service functions, while maintaining their separate legislative identity, brand, uniform and volunteer membership. This ‘joined-up’ RFS/SES corporate support structure would be under the command of the RFS given its corporate and operational maturity and would be responsible for:

• placing risk at the centre of all decision making and planning for catastrophic disasters

• establishing a dedicated intelligence unit that synthesises the wealth of intelligence available to inform critical decision making, particularly for flash flooding

• establishing a planning unit to help better prepare communities, NSW combat and other agencies, and local governments about upcoming flood and storm seasons

• establishing a fulltime SES position for each high-risk catchment to ensure flood identification, response assets and supporting infrastructure is serviced, operational and ready to deploy

• designing and implementing a workforce plan to identify any capacity and capability gaps in frontline emergency staff, now and into the future

• improving the hiring standards of frontline full-time staff in operational decision-making positions

• improving the support, training and retention of both frontline staff and volunteers

• improving media protocols and identifying a designated media spokesperson during a disaster

The newly merged model should be reviewed in 12 months’ time by the SEMC.

Response: Supported in principle – further work required on implementation. The NSW Government supports efforts to improve frontline capability, including through the streamlining of functions across agencies. Further consideration is required to examine the operational implications of this recommendation, including the feasibility of undertaking this before the next storm season.

Consultation with volunteers will also occur. The NSW Government also notes that there are various findings throughout the body of the report that offer suggestions for the support and strengthening of the SES that will need to be considered.

From Report, Volume Two:

The Warragamba Dam wall raising conundrum

In recent years there has also been a great deal of work put into a major flood mitigation proposal for the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley. A proposal to raise the wall height of Warragamba Dam by 14m is currently with the Government for assessment and determination. It is intended to provide regional flood mitigation benefits for the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley, noting the dam catchment has historically contributed between 40% and 70% of flood flows.

The $2 billion proposal has been assessed by Infrastructure NSW as the single most effective flood mitigation option available. Modelling by INSW shows that raising the dam wall has the potential to reduce flood impacts to dwellings and, more importantly, provide improvements in evacuation by delaying the peak of a flood and increasing the time before key roads are closed.

However, the Environmental Impact Statement for raising the dam wall identifies significant likely Aboriginal cultural heritage and biodiversity impacts from increased intermittent flooding of the World Heritage listed upper catchment following the raising of the dam wall. Highly significant Aboriginal sites are present, together with some 88 threatened flora and fauna species.

Other objections to raising the dam wall are concerns that it could lull communities into thinking new developments are safe from a large flood when they are not.899

Further discussion of the proposed raising of Warragamba Dam wall can be found in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley Case Study in Volume Three.

7.4. How the NSW Planning System measures up in dealing with flood

When evaluating the NSW flood planning approach against the best-practice framework given in Section 7.2 above, the Inquiry noted that many of the desirable features are in place – and several are not.

As detailed in the section on the evolution of flood planning above, the rhetoric of proactive processes (urging a risk-based approach to determining safe places to build) has featured in many of the relevant policy releases over the decades. However, it has been compromised in practice by short-term pragmatism (often enshrined in the guidance documents that accompany policies) associated with the need for speedy release of land for homes and the difficulties of deciding exactly how to determine an appropriate risk-based flood planning level (FPL), especially in the light of climate change.

However, NSW does have a high-quality example of a comprehensive approach that enables proactive planning for floods in one area – the highly problematic Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley.

Infrastructure NSW, working closely with other agencies notably the SES, Transport for NSW, DPE, Water NSW and local councils, has produced sophisticated models covering the whole catchment for various likely flood scenarios and evaluations of possible evacuation routes. This work includes examination of legacy risks, and it enables detailed articulation of anticipated  risks –most notably climate change but also risks associated with suggested new developments – and what the residual risks would be should these developments proceed. The relevance of this work has been brought into focus by the floods in 2021 followed by the floods in March and July 2022. It is clear that making the details of these studies even more widely available is needed to help community members decide whether or not they are willing to live with the risk associated with this area in the future.

Similar studies are not available yet to enable proactive planning for most other high-risk catchments in the State. At present, it is up to individual councils to decide whether to prioritise understanding flood risk in their local government areas, and to project manage related studies and consultancies for which they may not be well equipped. To help with this, councils generally apply for financial assistance through the Floodplain Management Program operated by DPE. Success in obtaining financial assistance (at a maximum of a 2:1 ratio of state: local funds) depends on the level of demand – both for studies and for flood mitigation works. This funding, even if limited, acts as a ‘carrot’ to incentivise councils to participate. The Local Government Act 1993 good faith provisions (s 733) act as another ‘carrot’ encouraging participation.

However, there is no equivalent of a ‘stick’ if councils choose not to participate. They do so at their own risk. And there is no easy mechanism at present by which the state can strategically determine that there is a need for better understanding of flood risk in a given location.

In contrast, when floodplain management was first introduced in NSW in the late 1970s, state government agencies commissioned catchment-wide studies. Modelling was completed at a relatively coarse scale across a whole catchment, and therefore often included multiple local government areas. These studies characterised the entire catchment, and identified vulnerable areas, areas requiring further study, and areas where flood mitigation works may be required regardless of the council boundary. After serious flooding in Victoria in 2011, a similar approach was initiated following the Comrie Review,900 with that state coordinating broader catchment scale modelling, and local government undertaking more fine scale modelling nested within the broader model and made available on a single platform.901 Also, in Queensland, after the 2011 Brisbane floods, an approach at 3 different scales has been implemented. Coarse scale interim assessments were completed across the whole state, flood studies at sub-basin levels were conducted at a moderate level for low growth towns, and high-quality sub-basin flood studies were completed for major centres.902

Both Victoria and Queensland have a nested hierarchy of approaches to understand strategically where risk arising from flooding is most acute and where effort should best be directed. NSW needs to move in this direction and to build on its successes in the Hawkesbury-Nepean study to enable more proactive flood planning across the state that results in clearly articulated, wellthought-through statements of existing, anticipated and residual risks. The need to understand existing or legacy risks much better has been brought into sharp focus by the floods in the Northern Rivers and more recently around Sydney and in the Hunter. 

The approach to determining flood planning levels needs to change

Flood planning level estimations inform decision-making for land use planning and development – as well as other plans such as emergency management and mitigation. The general practice in NSW and internationally is to calculate flood levels using a ‘standards-based’ approach. As explained by Wasko, Westra, Nathan, Orr, Villarini, Villalobos Herrera and Fowler (2021):

Arguably, the most common approach to decision-making is through a ‘standards-based’ approach. Flood modelling is used to arrive at a probability-based measure, such as a specified AEP, or a magnitude-based metric, such as the local ‘largest historic flood of record’ or ‘probable maximum flood’ (PMF) event. Decision-making is then based on a specified AEP or event magnitude from a regulatory design standard. 903

As discussed in Section 7.3 above, while NSW policy documents have often called for the use of a nuanced, risk-based approach for determining flood planning levels (FPLs) for land use planning and development, in practice the default has been to use (and until recently mandate) the 1% AEP.

While the most recent 2021 Government policy update904 no longer mandates the use of the 1% AEP and supports a risk-based approach, there has not been a major shift in re-assessing flood planning levels in most LGAs. Increasingly, such measures are seen as not best practice.

However, a deep look at flood planning levels can challenge conventional community thinking and community aspirations, as well as existing plans and strategies.

As long ago as 1953, when significant inundation from the North Sea led to the loss of over 1,800 lives and the flooding of 135,000 hectares of land, the Netherlands initiated a study of what storm surges could be expected on the Dutch coast, whether safety measures were sufficient to protect it and, if not, what measures should be taken. After 8 years, the study determined that the sea defences in the most densely populated part of the country should be able to withstand storm surges with an AEP of 0.001% (i.e. a 1 in 10,000 year flood). 905 This led to the construction of coastal engineering projects known as the Delta Works (which includes the Oosterscheldekering – or Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier) to protect the region. The process of looking deep into a range of defined flood events and determining the appropriate levels to plan various flood risk management actions has proven to be resilient 70 years later as new approaches and frameworks are put in place to address new risks and opportunities. The Second Delta Programme inaugurated in 2007 elevates community aspirations around ecological sustainability and habitat restoration and introduces these as integrated tools for flood risk management.

The lesson from the Netherlands is not that a higher AEP should be utilised as a flood planning level, but that the acceptability of the impacts of a particular AEP (or any other relevant defined flood event that is applied) must be considered and transparent judgements about them made as part of the infrastructure and development decision making process

How reliable is the current approach to modelling for flood risk management?

Accurate flood modelling depends on a sound understanding of rainfall patterns across a catchment and a well validated hydrologic model balanced with hydraulic models capable of representing realistic flood flows over the catchment.

Both flood frequency analysis and rainfall runoff techniques rely on available, historic information (the height and flow of floods prior) or ‘stationary’ assumptions about climate and weather factors that influence the flood hazard (including but not limited to rainfall intensity-frequency-duration).911

In other words, there is an underlying assumption that for any given catchment, the AEP is fixed.

However, as it is a function of both rainfall and the characteristics of the catchment it falls in, the AEP needs to be recalculated when either the characteristics of rainfall or the nature of the catchment changes (for example, new development or changing land uses).

Taking into account climate change

The majority of climate change projections used to estimate future flood risk are not ‘disaggregated’ by individual catchment.912 Relevant information, including projected changes in mean annual rainfall, maximum daily rainfall and runoff and return periods, are generally aggregated over large regions as shown in Figure 7-3.

Regardless, and in attempt to account for this uncertainty, climate change projections have been incorporated to some extent in existing NSW flood risk management guidance on flood modelling practice, though the Inquiry was informed that direct data from the NARCliM model are not used.915

But advice on consideration of climate change as influencing rainfall producing events is included in the Floodplain Risk Management Guide,916 noting trends derived from current research and references to Australian Rainfall and Runoff 2019.917 This guide recommends “a 5% increase in design rainfall intensity per °C of projected warming”.918 The Floodplain Risk Management Guide919 also notes the possibility of coincidence of coastal inundation, catchment flooding and waterway entrance condition, and provides sea level rise projections to be added depending on the waterway types.920

However, there is evidence to suggest that the 5% scaling factor is conservative.921 Rain is intensifying at daily and sub-daily scales and the intensity of short duration, or hourly, extreme rainfall events has increased.922 A study by Guerreiro, Fowler, Barbero, Westra, Lenderink, Blenkinsop, Lewis and Li  (2018) found that changes in the magnitude of hourly rainfall extremes in Australia are close to or exceeding double the expected scaling, and exceeding three times the expected scale in the tropics.923 This study also found that scaling for changes in rainfall based on changes in temperature provides a significant underestimate of observed changes in hourly rainfall extremes in Australia, with implications for assessing the impacts of extreme rainfall.924

As explained by Fowler, Lenderink, Prein, Westra, Allan, Ban, Barbero, Berg, Blenkinsop, Do, Guerreiro , Haerter, Kendon, Lewis, Schaer, Sharma, Villarini, Wasko and Zhang (2021):925

Evidence is emerging that sub-daily rainfall intensification is related to an intensification of flash flooding, at least locally. This intensification will have serious implications for flash flooding globally and requires urgent climate change adaptation measures.

Importantly, intensity is only one aspect of rainfall potentially affected by climate change. As discussed in Section 2.3, the impact of climate change on the frequency, duration, and spatial distribution of rainfall is not yet known with any great certainty.926 In line with this, the guide notes that:927

the scope of the advice on changes in climate … has been limited to projected changes in rainfall intensity (or equivalent depth) because there is little available information on projected changes in rainfall frequency, duration and temporal patterns, antecedent wetness and baseflow.

Yet, despite this qualifier, a change in other characteristics of rainfall is already being observed.

Evidence is emerging that dynamic systems are stalling,928 leading to sustained rainfall of longer duration than otherwise would have occurred over catchments. Take for instance, the duration of the intense rainfall experienced in Lismore and the Northern Rivers during late February and early March 2022, which was longer than seen before in the observed record.929

Whether changing rainfall behaviour is due to the influence of climate change or other factors, any change creates further uncertainty that must be reflected in flood models and the determination of the flood planning level in order to inform flood risk management in NSW.

A risk-based approach to flood modelling and planning is required

Flood modelling and estimation, especially for the purposes of knowing where it is safe to live (land use planning), needs to accommodate change or uncertainty – change by way of urbanisation, development and shifting exposure, and uncertainty around the impact of climate change on flood producing events. Instead of using marginal estimations to derive a single defined AEP for contemporary application as the flood planning level, some catchments require a cost-benefit trade-off calculation based on the probability (and consequence) of events to inform design and planning decisions.

Ultimately, any calculation is still just an estimate as climate drivers are not yet fully understood.

Therefore, the way flood models are applied in risk management must be treated with caution and the planning decisions that are informed by this modelling must be adaptive and transparent about the assumptions and associated uncertainty.

The Inquiry recommends that government flood modelling be improved, to enable more effective risk-based planning for flood across the state. This would enable better support for engineers, land planners, developers and emergency managers in NSW. This approach should be enacted as a priority in all high-risk catchments in the state, including the Hawkesbury-Nepean, Georges, Wilsons and Tweed rivers, and be extended as soon as possible to other high-risk catchments including the Macleay, Richmond, Hunter, Clarence and Shoalhaven rivers. 935

There must also be a mechanism to review and update flood models and data inputs, in order to keep pace with the rate at which climate science is developing.

Flood modelling and hazard identification in NSW is currently the responsibility of local government, so the modelling is done by local government area and not by whole of catchment.

This is sub optimal. Furthermore, multiple stakeholders, including some councils, told the Inquiry that councils’ capacity to discharge/fulfil this responsibility was highly varied. Some councils were better equipped than others to undertake and regularly update thorough flood modelling.936

Accordingly the Inquiry recommends that flood modelling and flood planning level determination be primarily the responsibility of the NSWRA.

Of course, many design and planning decisions were undertaken before climate change became a necessary consideration. These decisions will need to be revisited to check whether design rainfall and flooding have been underestimated, or conservatively scaled

The NSW Planning System – a complex system to navigate

The planning system in NSW is effectively divided into two parts – strategic planning and development control, with both parts requiring interaction with state and local governments. This division into two parts is reflected in the name of the overarching legislation, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act). As a result of the division and the interactions  with different levels of government, the planning system is complex, making it challenging to address flooding related risks.

Operationally, flooding related decision making is underpinned by the Floodplain Development Manual939 but the decision-making points occur at many different levels of the system and in a variety of contexts.

Strategic planning

Strategic planning is provided for under Division 3.1 of the EP&A Act. It involves government consulting with landowners and the wider public in developing land use plans. Strategic planning documents set an overall intention and vision for an area. They are prepared at both a regional scale (regional and district plans) and at a local scale (local strategic planning statements) in cascading fashion and are required to take various matters into consideration.

Typically, there are overlapping requirements, no continuous line of sight for policy implementation, and fragmentation of responsibility across the 2 levels of government, and different agencies at the state level. Figure 7-3 below gives some insight to the complexity of strategic plan making. 

Strategic plans should be underpinned by robust constraints analysis and mapping (considering flood, bushfire, ecological communities, etc.) undertaken by relevant experts to identify the suitability of different lands for different uses and thereby ensure that appropriate statutory controls are in place to protect the community and the environment from adverse impacts such as flooding.

Constraints analysis needs to be updated in strategic plan reviews to take account of land use and development changes, and actual and forecast climate change impacts. This helps ensure that strategic plans and development controls are in lock step.

Development control

Development control means that development is to be carried out in accordance with an Environmental Planning Instrument (EPI). EPIs are made under Part 3 of the EP&A Act and include a SEPP or an LEP but do not include a Development Control Plan (DCP). 940 

The Minister is able to issue Directions under s 9.1 of the EP&A Act specifying matters to be taken into account when making EPIs. Direction 4.1 applies to flooding and applies to councils when making LEPs. It requires councils to take flood behaviour into account, but also leaves room for a discretionary decision to not require flood risk to be taken into account.

In relation to flooding, some EPIs used to contain a map known as an ‘overlay’ which showed which areas are affected by flooding and therefore what standards need to be considered on flood affected land. Since a change to the Standard Instrument LEP in July 2021, LEPs no longer contain a map showing the flood planning area. Instead, councils are instructed to place maps into a development control plan (DCP)or on their websites.

Flooding is also required to be taken into account if development is proposed in the Flood Planning Area (FPA).941 The FPA reference in turn relies on the Flood Planning Level (FPL).942 The development of a FPL requires a council to have made a decision about the Design Flood Event (DFE) it intends to apply for management of flooding, as well as the freeboard it will apply.943 The existence of a FPA is dependent on council having undertaken studies of flood risk in its area.

Absent such studies, impacts will not necessarily be taken into consideration when a development assessment decision is made.

To assist in the interpretation of planning controls relating to flooding, the Considering Flooding in Land Use Planning Guideline (2021) indicates that all areas where flood-related development controls apply should be mapped, with maps made publicly available in a DCP or on a council website. If maps are not available, then ‘risk-based planning controls’ can apply to flood-prone land in accordance with the Floodplain Development Manual. The manual does not set out a specific risk-based approach for flood-prone land – instead it notes that, for development requiring consent:

a fundamental principle of floodplain risk management is to assess development applications within the strategic framework of a floodplain risk management plan and not in isolation or individually.

In relation to development of LEPs, the manual notes that:

councils are encouraged to incorporate appropriate planning provisions of floodplain risk management plans into LEPs, DCPs and development control policies.

The manual recommends that LEPs exclude complying development from areas that require flood related development controls.944 The Inquiry received submissions indicating that the complying development pathway should not be available for development on flood control lots, that is lots identified as flood constrained on s10.7 Planning Certificates.945

Clauses 5.21 and 5.22 were included in the Standard Instrument amendment (July 2021) as a mandatory and optional clause respectively. Clause 5.22 (Special flood considerations), when adopted, applies to a permitted range of “sensitive and hazardous development” on land between the FPA and the PMF in recognition of those uses “having a higher risk to life and warranting the consideration of the impacts of rarer flood events on land located outside the FPA.”946 In mid-2021, 32 councils applied to adopt clause 5.22. The resolution of those applications is not yet finalised.

In several parts of Sydney subject to a Precinct SEPP, local planning controls, including clause 5.21 relating to flooding, do not apply, but in some cases, the relevant EPI contains its own flooding considerations.947 Precinct SEPPs often contain a flood map, so it is much easier to determine which land development controls and considerations will apply. For remaining areas where LEPs no longer contain maps, it is well established that DCPs do not have statutory weight in relation to development assessment decisions. Through the Direction to have flood maps either in DCPs or on councils’ websites instead of in an EPI, the ability to apply clause 5.21 (and clause 5.22 when it is enacted) is greatly diminished in practice.

A new clause 5.9 was introduced to LEPs following the Black Summer bushfires in 2020, allowing houses in areas affected by any natural disaster (not just bushfires) to be rebuilt without obtaining further consent. However, in relation to flooding, reliance on this clause puts people back into harm’s way without any consideration of mitigation measures (e.g. minimum floor height, relationship to flood planning area, etc.). As a result, standard clause 5.9 of LEPs does not support a ‘build back better’ approach to recovery from all natural disasters. Submissions to the Inquiry have noted that this clause appears to be “somewhat inconsistent” with the NSW Government’s push for resilience.948 The Inquiry agrees with that assertion.

As flood related provisions span a number of EPIs and the Standard Instrument, it would be helpful to consolidate them, along with clause 5.9, into a new chapter in the SEPP Resilience and Hazards to aid navigation of the system. This would facilitate a more uniform approach to development assessment.

Statement from Minister for Planning 'More homes and liveable communities for NSW, released 5 April 2022;

The NSW Government will update the BASIX standards alongside a range of other initiatives to help deliver more quality and affordable homes in communities across the State.

Minister for Planning and Minister for Homes Anthony Roberts announced the changes today, which will develop best practice for liveable and resilient communities – focusing on quality subdivisions, streets and public spaces and achieve net zero targets.

“I have asked the department to proceed with BASIX updates to help people build homes that are more comfortable, save people money on their power bills and contribute to our net zero target,” Mr Roberts said.

“We want to make it easier to build quality, affordable homes – not harder. As I’ve said before, my focus is on changes that help us pave the way for more homes in liveable communities.

“We need to optimise land for homes while building communities that are sustainable and resilient.

There are a number of policies already in place to build resilient communities that are designed to withstand the impact of climate change.”

These include a direction issued by the Minister for Planning and Homes to ensure natural hazards are thoroughly considered in decision-making on land-use, the Flood-Prone Land Policy, and the natural hazards toolkit for councils.

The NSW Government will also consider any further measures in this regard concerning land use planning from the independent inquiry into floods, currently being conducted by Professor Mary O’Kane AC and Michael Fuller APM.

Recommendations regarding land-use are due to the NSW Government on 30 June 2022. Following extensive consultation with industry and stakeholder groups the NSW Government will not introduce the State Environmental Planning Policy for Design and Place.

$300 million to help unlock new homes across the state

Published: 19 Aug 2022- Released by: The Premier, Deputy Premier, Minister for Local Government, Minister for Planning

The NSW Government has today revealed the details of a $300 million plan to fast-track the delivery of essential infrastructure and unlock tens of thousands of homes across the state.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced 41 councils experiencing high growth will be able to apply for a share of the latest round of the Accelerated Infrastructure Fund (AIF).

“The NSW Government’s successful AIF program is being extended for a third round, to help councils roll out critical infrastructure projects that support the delivery of much needed new homes,” Mr Perrottet said.

“It’s about getting keys in doors and giving people the opportunity to own their own home. To be able to unlock land and increase supply, our State needs the vital infrastructure in place to allow community growth – this includes roads, sewerage systems, stormwater drains and parks.”

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said 23 of the 41 eligible councils were in the regions, demonstrating the NSW Government’s commitment to helping eliminate housing pressures right across the state.

“When you build a house, you’ve got to lay the foundations first. This funding lays the foundations to unlock more land and build thousands of homes in the communities where they’re needed the most,” Mr Toole said.

“It builds on the investment we’re making right across regional NSW to help fast-track construction of new homes and ease housing pressures as communities grow.” 

Treasurer and Minister for Energy Matt Kean said AIF round three will help support both immediate and anticipated population growth.

“This is a great program that has delivered excellent results to date, so I’m thrilled to see this package being extended,” Mr Kean said.

“Since 2020, the AIF program has supported 38 local infrastructure projects across eight Sydney councils, supporting more than 100,000 new homes and creating around 3,220 jobs.”

Minister for Planning and Minister for Homes Anthony Roberts said the investment is part of a suite of end-to-end measures aimed at putting downward pressure on house prices and making home ownership a reality for more people in NSW.

“This is a great example of State and Local Government working together to accelerate projects that stimulate the economy, fast-track new properties, and create jobs,” Mr Roberts said.

“Our $2.8 billion housing package announced in this year’s State Budget will help us pave the way for hundreds of thousands of new homes over the next four years.”

Minister for Local Government Wendy Tuckerman said councils were the engine room of these growing communities, and are best placed to work with the State Government in making them sustainable and affordable.

“Councils have the grassroots community knowledge needed to ensure our future homes, facilities and parks flourish. Partnering with councils for the Accelerated Infrastructure Fund is going to achieve targeted, local outcomes as a result.”

Twenty-three regional councils will be able to apply for a share of $120 million, and $180 million is available for 18 eligible metropolitan councils in Greater Sydney, Central Coast, Newcastle and Wollongong.

Learn more about the Accelerated Infrastructure Fund

The Accelerated Infrastructure Fund (AIF) was announced on 3 April 2020 as part of the Planning System Acceleration Program to cut red tape and fast-track planning processes to keep people in jobs and the construction industry moving throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

The objectives of the fund are to:

  • Fund infrastructure that unblocks development approvals and enables development activity and speed up the delivery of housing supply.
  • Stimulate construction activity by investing in infrastructure projects that can be brought forward quickly.
  • Encourage developers to enact development approvals and invest in construction.
  • Encourage local councils to bring forward expenditure of local developer contributions to accelerate infrastructure delivery.

The AIF sits alongside existing Infrastructure Funding, such as the Housing Acceleration Fund within the department to support the continued delivery of new homes and jobs throughout NSW.

During the first two rounds of AIF, the NSW Government worked in partnership with councils to accelerate $667 million toward infrastructure that is helping deliver 38 projects to unlock more than 100,000 homes and 685 hectares of employment land to create more than 3,220 jobs.

AIF Round 3

An extension of the AIF program into a third, $300 million round of funding was announced as part of the $2.8 billion 2022 Housing Package in the 2022-2023 NSW Budget.

It aims to build on the success of the first two rounds and support the delivery of local infrastructure in high-growth Council LGAs in Metropolitan NSW and, for the first time, Regional NSW to support housing delivery. The funding will be split to allocate up to $180 million to metropolitan projects and up to $120 million for regional projects.

Councils eligible to apply:


  • Bayside Council
  • Blacktown City Council
  • Camden Council
  • Campbelltown City Council
  • Canterbury–Bankstown Council
  • Central Coast Council
  • Cumberland City Council
  • Fairfield City Council
  • The Hills Shire Council
  • Liverpool City Council
  • City of Newcastle Council
  • City of Parramatta Council
  • Penrith City Council
  • City of Ryde Council
  • City of Sydney Council
  • Sutherland Shire Council
  • Wollondilly Shire Council
  • Wollongong City Council

Regional NSW;

  • Albury City Council
  • Ballina Shire Council
  • Bathurst Regional Council
  • Byron Shire Council
  • Cessnock City Council
  • Coffs Harbour City Council
  • Dubbo Regional Council
  • Eurobodalla Shire Council
  • Goulburn-Mulwaree Council
  • Kiama Council
  • Lake Macquarie City Council
  • Maitland City Council
  • Mid-Coast Council
  • Orange City Council
  • Port Macquarie–Hastings Council
  • Port Stephens Council
  • Queanbeyan–Palerang Regional Council
  • Shellharbour City Council
  • Shoalhaven City Council
  • Tamworth Regional Council
  • Tweed Shire Council
  • Wagga Wagga City Council
  • Wingecarribee Shire Council


AASFA Agriculture and Animal Services Functional Area

ACCC Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

ADF Australian Defence Force

AEP Annual exceedance probability

AFAC Australian and New Zealand National Council for Fire and Emergency Services

AHD Australian Height Datum

ANZLIC Australia and New Zealand Spatial Information Council

ARI Average recurrence interval

BNHCRC Bushfire and Natural Hazard Cooperative Research Centre

Bureau Bureau of Meteorology

CAD Computer Aided Dispatch

CBAA Community Broadcasting Association of Australia

CERA Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority

CLEX Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes

CSG Customer Service Guarantee

CSIRO Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

DACC Defence Assistance to the Civil Community

DCJ Department of Communities and Justice

DCP Development Control Plan

DCS Department of Customer Service

DFE Defined Flood Events

DPE Department of Planning and Environment

DPI Department of Primary Industries

DRFA Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements

EMA Emergency Management Australia

EMC Emergency Management Committee

EMPLAN State Emergency Management Plan

ENSO El Niño-Southern Oscillation

EOC Emergency Operations Centre

EOCON Emergency Operations Controller

EPA Environment Protection Authority

EP&A Act Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979

EPI Environmental Planning Instrument

ERC NSW Cabinet Expenditure Review Committee

ESO Emergency Services Organisation

EUSFA Energy and Utility Services Functional Area

FLARE Flash Flood Advisory Resource

FPA Flood Planning Area

FPL Flood Planning Level

FRAO Flood Rescue Area of Operations

FRNSW Fire and Rescue NSW

GSAC Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre

ICC Incident Control Centres

IFD Intensity, Frequency and Duration

IMS Incident Management Structure

IMT Incident Management Team

INSW Infrastructure NSW

IOD Indian Ocean Dipole

LEMC Local Emergency Management Committee

LEMO Local Emergency Management Officer

LEOCON Local Emergency Management Operations Controller

LEP Local Environment Plan

LGA Local Government Area

MoU Memorandum of Understanding

MSD Mass Service Disruptions

NBN National Broadband Network

NCEN NSW Climate Extremes Network

NEMRRA National Emergency Management, Resilience and Recovery Agency

NOCC Network Operations and Control Centres

NRRA National Recovery and Resilience Agency

NRRC Northern Rivers Recovery Corporation

NRSC National Resource Sharing Centre

NSSN NSW Smart Sensing Network

NSWPF NSW Police Force

NSWRA NSW Reconstruction Authority (proposed in this report)

SES NSW State Emergency Service

NSW VRA NSW Volunteer Rescue Association

OEM Office of Emergency Management

PIFAC Public Information Functional Coordinator

PMF Probable maximum flood

PSN Public Safety Network

PWA Public Works Authority

QRA Queensland Reconstruction Authority

REMC Regional Emergency Management Committee

REMO Regional Emergency Management Officer

REOCON Regional Emergency Operations Controller

RFS NSW Rural Fire Service

RPAS Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems

SAM Southern Annular Mode

SARA State Archives and Records Authority

SCC SES State Command Centre

SEMC State Emergency Management Committee

SEOC State Emergency Operations Centre

SEOCON State Emergency Operations Controller

SEPP State Environmental Planning Policy

SERCON State Emergency Recovery Coordinator

SERM Act State Emergency and Rescue Management Act 1989

SES Act State Emergency Service Act 1989

SHQ State Headquarters

SLSNSW Surf Life Saving NSW

SRB State Rescue Board

STP Sewage Treatment Plant

TELCOFA Telecommunications Services Functional Area

TEMU Telecommunications Emergency Management Unit

TSFA Transport Services Functional Area

UAV Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle

UNDR United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

VBRRA Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority

WELFAC Welfare Services Functional Area Coordinator

WHS Act Work Health and Safety Act 2011