Official Name of Eligible NDRRA Event: Tropical Cyclone Lam – February 2015

Australian Government Reference Number: 655

Date of Activation: 23 February 2015

Local Government Areas Affected: East Arnhem, West Arnhem, Victoria Daly and West Daly

Allowable Time Limit for Eligible Expenditure: 30.06.2017

An extension to the allowable time limit for eligible expenditure specifically related to the Galiwin’ku housing ‘slow build’ only, under Category B – 5.3.1 a) Restoration or replacement of an essential public asset, has been approved until 31.12.2018.

Media Releases

The following media releases were issued relating to this natural disaster event:

Summary of Event

Tropical Cyclone Lam made landfall on Friday 20 February 2015 as a category 4 system, impacting the east coast of North Arnhem Land with wind gusts of up to 260km per hour, causing widespread damage to infrastructure, flooding and storm water damage. A state of emergency was declared for regions hit hard by the cyclone, including the communities of Milingimbi, Ramingining, Gapuwiyak, Mapuru Outstation and Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island. It was estimated up to 5000 people in remote Arnhem Land Indigenous communities were directly affected by Cyclone Lam.

The Territory Government submitted the request to recognise Tropical Cyclone Lam in February 2015 as an eligible disaster event under NDRRA on 20 February 2015.

On 23 February 2015, the Commonwealth recognised Tropical Cyclone Lam in February 2015 as an eligible disaster event under NDRRA, enabling the Territory to receive financial assistance from the Commonwealth to support personal hardship and distress assistance, personal and financial counselling, counter-disaster operations and towards restoration of essential public assets.

Summary of Significant Relief and Recovery Achievements to Date

Territory Government officials visited Galiwin'ku in February 2016 for the one-year anniversary of Cyclone Lam to view how the $115 million regional rebuilding program was progressing. One hundred and sixty moderately damaged houses had been repaired and barge landing works were also completed. The construction works maximised jobs and training opportunities for local people, with half the reconstruction workforce being Indigenous. These projects also enabled the region to build capacity in manufacture and supply of construction materials, including timber trusses, concrete blocks and concrete batching.

Under the jointly funded $5 million Community Recovery Fund between the Commonwealth and Territory Governments, 32 projects were undertaken to increase broader community participation in the recovery and rebuilding efforts. These projects included restoration of the Galiwin'ku football oval surface and numerous sporting carnivals throughout the East Arnhem region, including the AFL NT men’s and women’s football carnivals. The successful continuation of an expanded mental health, resilience and wellbeing program, run by Miwatj Health using locally trained Yolngu counsellors, was recognised with a national Northern Territory Resilient Community Award. Arnhem Land's rich military history was also preserved with assistance to protect three World War II plane wrecks exposed in Milingimbi during Tropical Cyclone Lam. Additionally, the Marthakal cyclone shelter was upgraded to provide for the needs of up to 350 evacuees and approval was granted to construct a multi-purpose cyclone shelter in Ramingining.

Although the allowable time limit for eligible expenditure related to Tropical Cyclone Lam expired on 30 June 2017, the Territory Government successfully sought an extension from the Commonwealth until 31 December 2018, specifically for the 33 ‘slow build’ houses, in order to maximise training, employment and business development in some of the most remote communities in Australia. An additional 47 houses fast-tracked and funded under a separate agreement with NDRRA, the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing underway prior to Tropical Cyclone Lam, have been completed and displaced families have returned to their homes following periods in temporary housing.

In July 2017 Commonwealth Government officials visited Galiwin’ku and Nhulunbuy to view construction of the 33 ‘slow build' houses being replaced at Galiwin'ku and also visited multiple projects completed under the $5 million Community Recovery Fund, including a number of projects that provided ongoing training to members of the local Indigenous workforce who are completing a Certificate 3 in Remote Building Repairs and Maintenance though Swinburne University.

Enquiries for Categories of Assistance Measures Available

To enquire about Category B assistance for the restoration or replacement of essential public assets, please contact Department of Housing and Community Development or call (08) 8924 3644.

For further information on recovery assistance, please contact the East Arnhem Regional Office on telephone (08) 8987 0536, email eastarnhem.dcm@nt.gov.au or visit the Australian Government's Disaster Assist website.