Cyclone Gabrielle: Government announces $11.5 million community support package

  • 13/02/2023
Sepuloni said it's important to ensure people can continue to access support as Cyclone Gabrielle unfolds.
Sepuloni said it's important to ensure people can continue to access support as Cyclone Gabrielle unfolds. Photo credit: Getty Images.

The Government has unveiled an $11.5 million support package to provide assistance to communities affected by recent flooding and preparing for Cyclone Gabrielle.

The package includes $4 million for community providers which already have government contracts to support the wellbeing of their staff and volunteers, and $4 million to expand the scope of the Community Connectors scheme, which helps families access government support.

It was revealed following a Cabinet meeting on Monday afternoon.

"Community organisations, groups and iwi have mobilised quickly to support people and whānau who have been impacted and displaced as a result of the unprecedented flooding," said Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni.

"However it's clear that demand for support is exceeding funding available for these groups to respond quickly to need in the community."

She said the funding is part of the Government's ongoing response to the weather events in Auckland and other impacted regions. 

"This support package will provide immediate relief for individuals and families, bespoke support for disabled people like transport assistance, as well as support for the voluntary sector who continue to be at the heart of their communities and our response.

"Over 25,000 people have been supported with food, clothing, shelter, bedding and medication. People have lost their homes and vehicles, families are facing additional challenges getting their children back to school and many families will be facing anxiety and distress from the significant disruption of the floods and impending cyclone."

Sepuloni said it's important to ensure people can continue to access support as Cyclone Gabrielle unfolds. 

"As part of our response, we're also enabling our Community Connectors, who were established as part of our welfare response to COVID-19, to support the Auckland and impacted regions flood relief, and as regions prepare for cyclone Gabrielle," she said.

"They're a trusted interface for individuals and families and play an important part in helping households to access community and government support."

Funds allocated through the $11.5 million package will be time-limited until June 30, 2023 and are limited to supporting those affected by the flooding in Auckland and other impacted regions.

Where the Community Support Package money is going

Community support fund ($2 million)

This fund will focus on supporting the capability of local community groups, who are not current MSD providers, to continue supporting communities and whānau in Auckland and other regions impacted by recent flooding. Funding will allow community groups to support the wellbeing of their whānau, support them to replace infrastructure needed to maintain operations and flood recovery. 

Up to $2 million will be available for community groups. The amount that community groups can receive under the fund will be capped at $3,500.

Community providers fund ($4 million)

This funding will provide additional resources for providers supporting affected communities in need. Providers are considered those who already have government contracts in the social sector, including those funded by MSD as well as Whaikaha and Te Puni Kōkiri (Whānau Ora). Providers have mobilised quickly to provide flood relief support however this new emergency exacerbates existing pressure on the sector which (especially in Auckland) has not yet recovered from COVID-19 response.

Funding will allow providers to support the wellbeing of their staff and volunteers, support them to address immediate infrastructure needed to maintain operations and flood recovery and help meet the increase in demand due to the flood response. This is not intended to replace or cover insurance related matters, but enable them to continue to keep operating in the flood response.

Food fund ($1 million)

The floods have affected some community food providers stock, increased food demand and reduced the amount of donated food available to foodbanks. This component will allow community food providers to refill their stock to meet current demand. This will be up to $1million and will be distributed using existing mechanisms, for example the New Zealand Food Network in order to facilitate bulk purchasing of essential items.

Expanding the scope of Community Connectors and discretionary support ($4 million).

Community Connectors were established in June 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and are a key part of the welfare component of the Care in the Community welfare response to COVID-19. Employed by non-government organisations, Connectors act as a trusted interface for individuals, families and whānau to access community and government supports and are well placed to respond to local need. Community Connectors have already begun to support the response to the Auckland floods.

Addressing the needs of disabled people ($0.5 million)

MSD and Whaikaha will work directly with disabled people to understand their needs and how to support the disabled community as part of the flood response. This fund will provide up to $0.5 million to assist with identified costs. This could include helping with additional challenges disabled people are experiencing as part of the flood recovery. It could also include meeting additional costs disability providers are facing due to the flooding (e.g. from having to pay staff who are unable to attend work, and employing additional staff to cover them, and providing additional care to disabled people impacted).