Queensland Flood Aftermath Needs More Than One-Off Donations

Above: Soldiers from the Plant Troop, 21 Construction Squadron, assist residents in carrying flood damaged rubbish into a pile in Karalee.    Flickr image by Aust Defence Force via Creative Commons  

One-off donations aren’t enough to get the flood-affected Queensland communities back to their full lives, according to charitable trust managers, Perpetual.

Andrew Thomas, the General Manager of Philanthropy at Perpetual says Not for Profit organisations supporting these communities are also struggling, with a drop in giving after the one-off donations made to natural disaster relief at the beginning of the year.

As the six month anniversary of the Queensland floods approaches, Thomas says one-off donations won’t be enough to help local communities recover.

Thomas says the strain on communities and individual lives after the floods is overwhelming many Not for Profits as they try to address dislocation, counselling needs and domestic stress in the communities affected by the disaster.

He says while it’s heartening to see Australians respond so quickly at the time of the crisis, what is lacking is follow-through because a one-off donation simply doesn’t extend through to the people who still need support for everyday issues once the flood waters have subsided.

He says it’s not just about rebuilding houses and businesses, it’s about rebuilding communities of people who will rely on the support of Not for Profit organisations to get through one of the toughest times of their lives.

Thomas says typically, funding for everyday issues drops after a natural disaster - these ‘one-off’ relief donations are often used as a reason not to give to other causes or organisations.

Don Luke, Chief Executive Officer of Spiritus, a Not for Profit arm of the Anglican Church working to provide support to the Queensland community after the recent floods, says many stress reactions do not become evident in the general population until six to twelve months after a disaster event.

Luke says the aftermath of major weather events in Queensland in 1974 – Cyclones Una, Wanda and Zoe – resulted in loss of life and significant damage to business infrastructure. But the long-term effect was a significant increase in relationship breakdowns and ongoing economic and emotional costs.

“He says for example in the two-year period after the 1974 floods, divorce rates in Queensland increased 295 per cent, well above those in any other state and territory.

Andrew Thomas argues that much of the support to disaster victims is provided by Not for profits and they need more funding to provide it.

He says competition for Not for Profit funding is heating up and perpetual has seen a 20 per cent increase in the number of funding applications this year alone.

He says there is a continued and consistent demand for the services provided by Not for Profits and charities, but they rely heavily on the donations of individuals.

He says there is no room for compassion fatigue and calls on Australians to think hard about creating a sustainable giving plan that supports NFPs throughout the year.  

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