The government has so far bought back a hundred Ipswich homes as part of the Resilient Homes Fund, which enabled families to voluntarily sell flood-impacted properties – and be freed from future flood risk.
The program was established in May last year following the catastrophic 2021-22 rainfall and flooding events, which predominantly devastated homes in Goodna, just north of Greater Springfield.
Thousands of people living and working in and around Springfield were deeply impacted – both directly and indirectly – during the long recovery process.
As of September, 100 sale contracts have now been settled, and 57 homes have been demolished or removed, removing flood-affected residents from harm’s way.
In total, 148 Ipswich homeowners have accepted offers for buy-back out of the 207 offers presented to homeowners so far.
Over 500 offers have been accepted South East Queensland-wide.
“Peace of mind”
Blair MP Shayne Neumann said the Resilient Homes Fund is “delivering peace of mind” to Ipswich locals who can now move away from repeatedly flood-prone suburbs and set up in safer areas.
“I’m very pleased to see the progress and congratulate all levels of government for hitting this important milestone in keeping Queenslanders safe,” Mr Neumann said.
“There are still offers on the table which homeowners are considering, so we expect this number to keep growing.”
The federal government is providing funds to Ipswich City Council to purchase the land, with all homes purchased under the program demolished or removed, and then re-zoned to non-residential uses.
Bundamba MP Lance McCallum said it was a “significant milestone”.
“The 2021-22 floods, which caused damage to almost 7,000 homes, were one of the state’s most devastating natural disasters,” Mr McCallum explained.
The government developed the Resilient Homes Fund to help affected Queenslanders, while identifying voluntary home buy-back for homes most severely impacted and also at the greatest risk of future flooding.
“Having 100 homes settled under the program means that 100 Ipswich families can move on with their lives. It also ensures that no future resident will have to suffer the same devastating impact of flooding in that location again.
Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said it was “incredibly exciting” to see the region meet this milestone.
“As we move through the program and re-zone the land, Council will engage with the Ipswich community to develop a plan for the best future use for these empty lots,” Mrs Harding added.
More than 6,500 homeowners registered for the Resilient Homes Fund, which also includes Home Raising and Resilient Retrofit programs, prior to registrations closing on 30 July 2023.
The Queensland Department of Energy and Public Works is managing the delivery of the retrofitting and house-raising components of the Resilient Homes Fund, while the Queensland Reconstruction Authority is managing the Voluntary Home Buy-Back program together with local government.
Of all affected suburbs, Goodna alone has seen the majority of completed buy-back deals so far, totalling 51. Bundamba, North Booval, and East Ipswich are next, with 11, 9, and 7 deals, respectively.
Future of housing
On September 14, the federal government also passed the Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF).
Blair MP Shayne Neumann said it was good news for current and future residents – ensuring more locals will have a safe and affordable place to call home.
“The $10 billion HAFF will create a secure, ongoing pipeline of funding for more social and affordable rental housing, including in my electorate,” Mr Neumann said.
Returns from the HAFF will help deliver the Government’s commitment of 30,000 new social and affordable rental homes in the fund’s first five years.
This includes 4,000 homes for women and children impacted by family and domestic violence or older women at risk of homelessness.
“In addition, this week the Government announced an additional $1 billion [investment] in the National Housing Infrastructure Facility to support new homes.”
This will mean more homes for key workers, more affordable homes for Australian renters, and more homes for those most in need, Mr Neumann explained.
“I know many local residents are facing housing and rental affordability challenges, which is why the Government is taking action.”
UniSQ fills housing workforce gaps
Meanwhile, Australia is facing a nationwide shortage of skilled surveyors, urban planners, and construction staff to make building urgently needed new homes a reality.
The University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) is working hard to fill that workforce gap, with its School of Surveying and Built Environment (SBE) delivering job-ready graduates with a focus on the housing industry needs.
Head of School SBE Professor Sherif Mohamed said the surveying, planning, and construction industries “require more people right now than ever before”.
“We are proud to be strengthening that workforce with extremely capable and industry-connected graduates here at the University of Southern Queensland,” Professor Mohamed said.
“Urban planning and construction students start their collaboration from the beginning of their university education to reap the benefits of integrating social, environmental and cultural aspects of sustainable construction.
“Similarly, surveying and urban planning students work collaboratively with both field survey data and planning requirements to ensure they are making informed decisions about land use,” he said.
“It is that interdisciplinary approach that makes University of Southern Queensland graduates unique, having the capacity to integrate information and knowledge in two or more disciplines.
“Ultimately, learning how the surveying, planning and construction disciplines interact goes a long way in solving issues facing the housing industry”.
Surveying a cornerstone
The University of Southern Queensland’s Surveying program is one of the largest in Australia and is the only one in Queensland. Overall, the University accounts for around 70 per cent of all Surveying students in the country.
Professor Mohamed said the School of Surveying and Built Environment offered a well-established surveying program which had grown and developed alongside industry for more than 25 years, and boasted thousands of job-ready graduates over its history.
The university’s online course offerings allow students to study or upskill while working in industry at the same time.
For more info, visit unisq.edu.au.