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Christchurch could learn from Queensland’s Cyclone Larry

Canterbury researchers believe Christchurch could learn from Queensland’s Cyclone Larry

June 17, 2014

University of Canterbury and Auckland resilience researchers believe Christchurch could learn from Queensland’s 2006 Cyclone Larry to house short term rebuild workers.

The Queensland model of temporary accommodation for construction workers and how it was integrated into and balanced with assistance for cyclone-displaced could be of use for Christchurch, University of Canterbury researcher Dr Erica Seville says.

Queensland’s vision to integrate workers’ accommodation into an economic and employment response was effective. Their achievements are a clear indication of the value of a partnership between Queensland Government, local councils and accommodation operators.

``The tenancy management approach ensured an industry-participative response with the help of government agencies,’’ Professor Suzanne Wilkinson from the University of Auckland says.

Dr Seville says the Queensland initiative addressed workers’ accommodation needs to support recovery and repairs in the affected areas. The Department of Housing and Public Works took a lead role in providing 400 beds for temporary accommodation and over 30 community facilities across Queensland.

``The department worked with existing operators to facilitate an expansion of their facilities to meet accommodation demands. This improved occupancy rates for operators, increased revenue and allowed those with available land to finance expansion plans to meet demand as the workforce increases over time.

``The provision of accommodation for both workers and displaced residents was considered by the Queensland Government as being equally important. The accommodation issues that are faced by Christchurch following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes bear resemblance to that of the Queensland cyclone events in 2006 and 2011,’’ Dr Seville says.

Recommendations include for accommodation needs to be incorporated into recovery models, for existing operators to be identified for capacity expansion, and for innovative building techniques and processes to be used.

The accommodation issues and challenges faced by Queensland after Cyclone Larry are similar to that in Christchurch in that there are significant demands for rebuilding, a lack of temporary accommodation, and the forecasted higher demand for skills when local resources are overstretched.

A model of governance similar to Queensland’s will be helpful to facilitate the housing assistance for a wider spectrum of people in Christchurch such as low-income people, former state/council housing tenants, renters, red-zone home owners, seasonal workers, construction workers, and other recovery-related workers, Dr Seville says.

Regular information sessions are needed between the insurance industry, construction industry, other interested groups such as the Salvation Army and Habitat International, commercial accommodation operators, and government departments to update the key agencies on existing accommodation availability and capacity, repair and construction schedules and arrival of workers, housing needs of displaced homeowners, enabling effective accommodation planning.

Researchers Alice Yan Chang-Richards, David Brunsdon, Professor Wilkinson and Dr Seville worked on the study under the Resilient Organisations group, which is a collaboration between Auckland and Canterbury universities.


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