Lismore City News
Saturday, 2 December 2023

One of the leading organisers behind Lismore's flood recovery says the flood inquiry has left the community out of its findings

David Kirkpatrick
Updated August 22 2022 - 2:51pm, first published August 18 2022 - 5:00am

One of the leading lights behind the 2017 and 2022 flood recoveries likened the results of the NSW Flood Inquiry as a "bit like shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic".

Cr Elly Bird said the community was still waiting for answers despite the report of the NSW Flood Inquiry delivering 28 recommendations. Picture: Cathy Adams
Cr Elly Bird said the community was still waiting for answers despite the report of the NSW Flood Inquiry delivering 28 recommendations. Picture: Cathy Adams

Councillor Elly Bird, who has been one of the driving forces behind Resilient Lismore and Lismore Helping Hands before it, walked away disappointed by the NSW Premier's press conference announcing the flood inquiry's findings on Wednesday.

"Still waiting, still waiting," she muttered out loud as she walked away from the premier's press conference.


"The report is really focused on response, from what I have seen and just listened to," she said.

"What the community is really crying out for is leadership and direction in recovery.

"The community right now needs information to be able to make decisions about where they are going with the lives.

"We don't have that today. We are still waiting on details, we are still waiting to know who's going to be offered a pathway to safety, and none of that has been announced today."

The premier did announce expressions of interest in land swaps, buy backs and relocation of homes would be called for by the end of the month.

Cr Bird welcomed it as a "positive step" on what has been a "slow and arduous journey".

"We know the level of sentiment in the community and there has been some references to 'highest risk' and 'most appropriate areas'," she said.

"Let's just get that on the table, if those are the opportunities that are going to be offered first, then let those people know so they can start to make decisions.

"We can't wait, we can't keep waiting for longer and longer and longer."

Recommendations about re-shuffling responsibilities among emergency services and linking organisations like the Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service felt "a bit like shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic".

"While we wait for bureaucracies to reorganise themselves, to reorganise administration, communities are left waiting on the ground for practical solutions to the situations they face," Cr Bird said.

"I'm also disappointed from what I can see so far in the recognition of the community led response in recovery.

"There is a lot of focus on response, but response is actually over relatively quickly. Recovery goes on for years and there is no reference to the important community initiatives in recovery."

Lismore MP Janelle Saffin described the NSW Flood Inquiry's 28 recommendations as a "major step forward".

"What has happened here is of a magnitude that is so different to what has happened before and what has happened elsewhere, it was a humanitarian disaster," she said.

"It is a major step forward and it gives directions and it also gives a commitment to the 28 recommendations, six of them straight away, the other 22 have to be worked through".

David Kirkpatrick

I'm a media professional with over 34 years of experience in public relations and journalism, including a decade setting Lismore's news agenda as the editor of The Northern Star. I have proven track record in growing audiences and improving engagement by delivering quality local stories for and about the Lismore community.