Minister for Human Services
Tasmania’s Floods – Human Services Staff
14 June 2016 [7:57PM]

Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin – Minister for Human Services) – Madam Speaker, I arise to speak in regard to our recent floods and storms. My heart, like I know everyone else’s heart in this Chamber, goes out to those who have lost loved ones. They have had their homes, animals and personal belongings destroyed as a result of the recent storms and resulting floods. I personally cannot imagine the tress and trauma felt by those families.

I have, however, been heartened by the stories of generosity and gestures of kindness from strangers to affected residents. I have also been heartened by the big-heartedness by the many staff in Human Services, especially Children and Youth Services and Housing Tasmania staff who have taken up their roles during this emergency with a very generous determination to help others.

Tonight I record my appreciation and thanks to all the efforts of the staff of Human Services, many of whom also live in flood affected areas and who were also worrying about their own property and local community, while at the same time turning up to work. The emphasis over the last week for Human Services staff, as is appropriate in an emergency situation, was to meet immediate need. Human Services staff moved quickly to deal directly with those tenants and clients affected by the storm by helping to evacuate Housing Tasmania properties, an aged care facility, as well as people living with disability and organising emergency accommodation for many. They are now busy assessing properties, and organising repairs and clean ups. Some staff are so keen and organised that they were ready to enter the recovery centres before they had even been opened.

During times of emergency, Children and Youth Services business service managers in each region are also tasked with being in attendance at evacuation recovery centres to provide emergency assistance grants to any person experiencing hardship and distress who might require immediate financial support.

The Premier announced last week a package of assistance for individuals and families who have lost homes and belongings. Funding of up to $750 per night, or $200 per adult and $100 per child is available to assist with essential clothing, food, transport, shelter and personal items. I would like to urge all those eligible to apply. To date, 233 grants have already been issued.

There are also the $8875 Recovery and Restoration Grants for low-income residents administered by Housing Tasmania, which assists with repair and restoration or replacement of household items and temporary living expenses. I know that Human Services staff who attended the recovery centres provided practical assistance and also very much-needed emotional support to those seeking help.

To support local communities across the north and north-west region, Housing Tasmania and Children and Youth Services staff provided support throughout the long weekend to residents impacted by the floods. I know I and the Government really appreciated their willingness to do this, especially over a long weekend when they could have been spending the time at home with their own families or on their own properties.

Human Services staff are often faced with making difficult decisions on a daily basis and can sometimes be unjustly viewed as being too bureaucratic. However, the support these staff provided to their fellow Tasmanians impacted by the floods is outstanding. I send them my thanks and gratitude, as I am sure others in this House do as well, for their personal care, warmth, professionalism and assistance to so many people around the state over recent times.

Many of the community sector organisations in my portfolio have likewise been providing financial assistance and working with the recovery centres to provide support to those most in need. I would also like to place on record again, as I am sure everyone in this place does, our thanks and gratitude for their wonderful spirit of community and cooperation. Together, we can rebuild our beautiful state.