The Department of Treasury and Finance administers Disaster Recovery Assistance for local governments and agencies following an eligible natural disaster event on behalf of the Treasurer. Eligible disaster events may include a storm, flood, earthquake, bushfire etc.

There are a range of relief measures available to assist individuals, local governments and state agencies in their recovery from a natural disaster.

Treasury and Finance has established guidelines for local governments and agencies on this. For other affected communities, the State Recovery Office (SRO) may be able to assist.

Following an eligible natural disaster event, local councils can apply for state government assistance through the South Australian Local Government Disaster Recovery Assistance Arrangements (LGDRAA).

Natural disasters are defined as rapid onset events (storm, flood, earthquake, bushfire etc).

Councils are required to make reasonable efforts to mitigate the physical and financial impact of natural disasters.

Councils may receive funding assistance for:

  • Restoration or replacement of an essential public asset (e.g. assets that are an integral part of the council's infrastructure associated with health, education, transport or welfare).
  • Counter disaster operations (e.g. activities carried out by councils to protect communities and ensure public health and safety following an event).
  • Community recovery funds.

Please refer to the following documents for further information:

How to Apply

Claim Forms

Form 1
Form 2
Form 3

Acquittal/Audit Forms

The Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) set out the guidelines for assistance available from the Commonwealth Government which is intended to support the relief and recovery measures conducted by the state following an eligible natural disaster event.

Through the DRFA, the Commonwealth Government may contribute to the costs incurred by the state for eligible measures in responding to a natural disaster.

The state can receive DRFA funding for the following types of measures:

Category A – assistance for individuals.
Category B – assistance for community protection measures and essential asset repairs. 
Category C – community and small business recovery programs approved by the Prime Minister.
Category D – extraordinary measures approved by the Prime Minister.

To qualify for Commonwealth Government assistance the measures must be associated with an eligible disaster and result in extraordinary expense to the state (essentially unbudgeted/incremental costs).

To be an eligible natural disaster, the following criteria must be met:

  • The event is an eligible natural disaster or terrorist act
  • State expenditure on eligible measures associated with the eligible disaster exceeds $240,000.

For more information about the DRFA, please visit the Commonwealth Disaster Recovery webpage.

Record keeping requirements

Audits are carried out by State and Commonwealth auditors to ensure compliance with the DRFA.

All agencies must keep an accurate audit trail of all supporting evidence for seven years from the end of the financial year in which the expenditure occurred.

It is essential that physical and/or electronic records show a direct connection between the disaster, relief or recovery assistance sought, the work invoiced and the expenditure claimed. Agencies should choose a suitable method for recording this information that enables a transparent, explainable and accountable connection with the disaster.

Agencies must provide supporting evidence requested by the Department of Treasury and Finance within two weeks of the request.

Types of records

Physical and electronic records include:

  • Visual and geospatial data and information, e.g. satellite images, Google Earth images, photographs, video footage.
  • Administrative data and documentation, e.g. contract or work orders, timesheets, news articles, email correspondence, funding approval letters, minutes of meetings.
  • Financial data and documentation, e.g. tax and/or financial statements, cost-benefit analyses, transaction listings used to reconcile invoices, annual reports, proposals, invoices and records of payments.
  • Grant data and documentation, e.g. grant applications and grant guidelines.

With respect to the repair of essential public assets

State and Commonwealth audit focus will be on the development of the estimate as the DRFA for repair of essential public assets is now based on estimated costs. Agencies must keep records that link the estimate to the damage and the damage to the event. This includes maintenance and asset records demonstrating pre-disaster functionality and condition, inspection reports/photographic records that show the post-disaster condition, an engineering assessment of required works to return the asset to the pre-disaster function and associated industry based cost estimates (or tender result).

What is an eligible natural disaster?

A natural disaster is one, or a combination of, the following rapid onset events:

  • bushfire
  • earthquake
  • flood
  • storm
  • cyclone
  • storm surge
  • landslide
  • tsunami
  • meteorite strike, or
  • tornado.

As a general rule if the event is considered to be eligible for Commonwealth Natural Disaster Funding Assistance (DRFA) then it will be an eligible event under the LGDRAA.

Key criteria for eligibility under the DRFA are that the event will require a multi-agency response and is likely to incur eligible expenditure greater than $240,000.

Who determines Natural Disaster eligibility?

The Department of Treasury and Finance will determine the eligibility of an event for state support based on preliminary damage assessments undertaken by both local and state government agencies.

Advice on event eligibility can be obtained from DTF via email to:

Who should Local Governments contact when they have been impacted by a natural disaster?

Initially Councils should notify the Director, State Recovery Office of damage caused by a natural disaster. This notification should include sufficient information to provide an early indication of the extent of damage and the likely recovery measures required. Councils can also seek advice from the Local Government Association.

What type of recovery measures are eligible for state support?

State support is provided for counter disaster activities, repairs to essential public assets and for community recovery activities.

What are counter disaster operations?

Counter disaster operations are activities undertaken to limit the impact of a disaster on communities and individuals both during and immediately after an event. This can include:

  • sandbagging or construction of temporary levees to prevent inundation of residential properties
  • establishment of bushfire control lines to protect residential properties
  • establishment of temporary access routes required for disaster relief operations to allow residents to return to their homes
  • activities to render a damaged house safe and habitable, e.g. tarping damaged roofs or structural integrity assessments on residential properties
  • general clean‑up works including the removal of debris and other hazardous objects from around residential properties.

What type of assets are eligible for state support?

Assets that are essential for the provision of health, education, justice welfare and transport services are generally eligible for assistance. Councils are expected to maintain insurance for essential public assets where it is cost effective to do so.

Eligible assets that are not readily insurable are primarily related to transport infrastructure such as roads and associated assets such as drainage systems, signage and pedestrian and bike pathways.

Examples of ineligible assets include:

  • Sporting & community facilities, religious establishments & memorials, cycle paths, piers and wave energy dissipation structures (breakwaters and sea walls).
  • Environmental assets such as river banks, coastal dune systems (even if they are close to eligible assets), fire tracks and walking trails.

What evidence is required to be submitted for our initial estimate?

The initial estimate (Form 1) is used to determine the scope of the damage and provide an opportunity to determine the eligibility of recovery measures.

In relation to recording damage to essential public assets the initial estimate will need to provide the asset name, location, description and details of damage.  It is recommended that photographic evidence of the damage be obtained before emergency and restoration repairs have commenced to support the assessment. It is important to be able to demonstrate the pre disaster condition of the asset in order to provide assurance that the damage was caused by the event. This can be achieved through reference to maintenance/asset registers etc and/or by providing previous photographic records (google maps can provide this in many circumstances).

At this stage an estimate prepared by a suitably qualified professional (an employee/contractor with sufficient knowledge and experience to undertake the task) of the cost of clean-up and repair is required including allowance for industry accepted escalation and contingency. It is important that evidence supporting the damage assessment is gathered as soon as possible following an event. The assessment should be reviewed by an engineer or quantity surveyor.

For counter disaster operations details of the costs, location, activity and purpose  of the expenditure will need to be provided (i.e. material and labour associated with protecting residences in suburb X from rising floodwater by raising the height of a river levee).

Costs for community development projects should not be included at this stage as this activity will need to be coordinated through the State Recovery Office.

What costs can be included in the claim?

Eligible costs are extraordinary costs incurred to provide eligible recovery measures.

These can include contractor costs (including externally provided project management services), external equipment hire charges, employee travel allowances and overtime, operating and additional maintenance costs for council owned equipment and the cost of backfilling employees undertaking eligible measures.

Costs not included are those that a council would have incurred in the absence of an eligible event. These include normal salaries and wages (unless specifically approved by the Minister), overhead charges, internal equipment hire rates, equipment purchases, costs that are reimbursable from other external funding sources and consequential losses subsequent to the actual event (fees and charges etc).

How is the level of government support calculated?

Government assistance to a council undertaking eligible measures is determined following submission of the Form 2.

The total amount of support is subject to two thresholds with the state contributing 50% of the costs between the first and second threshold and 75% of the costs above the second threshold. The first threshold is set at 2% of the indexed average rate revenue for the two years prior to the event with the second threshold being 1.75 times the first. For a claim that includes reconstruction of essential public assets a minimum financial threshold of $150,000 applies.

Average rate revenue excludes revenue collected on behalf of third parties such as the NRM levy.

Under what circumstances can additional support be provided?

Additional support can be provided to support improvements to an assets resilience (known as betterment) provided it is cost beneficial to do so. This will only be considered if the asset has a history of damage from past events.

The Minister can also approve additional support for eligible measures if the council can demonstrate that it does not have the financial capacity to meet its share of the costs.

Is there a time limit for lodging our claim?

The claim (Form 2) must be lodged within 12 months following the end of the financial year of the eligible event.  Extensions of time must be requested well in advance and include justification for the cause of the delay (e.g. unable to access the site for an extended period). All restoration works are to be completed within the allowable time period (2 years from the end of the financial year in which the natural disaster occurred) unless a time extension has been approved by the Minister.

Can councils submit more than one claim for a natural disaster event?

Yes, councils can submit more than one claim for an event. If the subsequent claim is to restate the costs of projects included in an earlier claim sufficient justification must be provided (e.g. the preferred tenderer did not proceed or unforeseeable obstacles were encountered in the repair).

What information should be provided when claiming payment?

Sufficient information should be provided to link the expense to the approved claim (Form 2). This would include purchase orders, invoices (clearly detailing the works undertaken), ledger details timesheets etc.

Should the claim include GST?

The subsidy is not considered to be a supply for GST purposes and should be GST exclusive.

Department of Treasury and Finance

State Recovery Office
Phone: 8415 4302