During the summer of 2010–2011, Queensland experienced an unprecedented series of extreme weather events that devastated communities, damaged infrastructure and led to then Queensland Premier Anna Bligh declaring the majority of the state a disaster zone. More than 9,000 kilometres of roads, almost 5,000 kilometres of rail network, 11 major ports and 411 schools were affected. Approximately 480,000 homes and businesses were left without power and 36 people lost their lives.

Advisian provided hands-on support and practical advice on a pro bono basis during the immediate recovery response after the flooding in January 2011. The company sent experienced project directors to crisis coordination centres across Brisbane, and drew on its extensive network of construction industry contacts to facilitate the involvement of major contractors, excavation equipment, trucks and manpower to help remove debris from city streets.

Supporting the Queensland Reconstruction Authority

In February 2011, the Queensland Government launched ‘Operation Queenslander’, which included establishing the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QldRA) to develop, implement and manage the state’s $6.8 billion reconstruction program.

It was essential that the Government could restore vital infrastructure as soon as possible, while ensuring the efficient use of public funding from the joint Commonwealth–State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA). We developed a conceptual framework for the program based on four pillars of governance: people, economy, responsiveness and value for money.

The Value for Money Strategy

As part of the framework, we worked closely with government officials and senior officers from the Australian military to develop an innovative governance model for assessing and allocating funding to the multiple reconstruction projects required. The model was known as the Value for Money (VfM) Strategy.

The Strategy provided guiding principles and processes that enhanced the NDRRA’s funding mechanisms to ensure the reconstruction program achieved maximum value for money. It also ensured QldRA verified value for money throughout the submission, approval and monitoring stages of reconstruction projects, using a VfM Statement as a benchmark.

In addition, we developed a detailed Submission Guide to help funding applicants follow the VfM Strategy, and worked with the QldRA to establish a panel of external service providers and a comprehensive training program.

“The QldRA was and is required to demonstrate the highest level of accountability and transparency in the expenditure of Commonwealth and State funding,” said Graeme Newton, Chief Executive Officer, Queensland Reconstruction Authority. “Advisian played an integral role in developing the Value for Money framework. The team’s excellence in industry experience and leadership was also demonstrated through the development of value for money assurance processes to govern all components for funding reconstruction projects administered through the QldRA.”

Reconstructing Queensland

The QldRA used the VfM Strategy to develop procedures to mobilise the reconstruction effort as quickly as possible. This included coordinating the early allocation of more than $400 million to local councils so they could begin reconstructing vital infrastructure.

As of February 2012, the QldRA had provided more than $4.36 billion for reconstruction projects through the NDRRA systems, supported by the VfM Strategy. This included fast-tracking the reconstruction of a key section of road in Gympie so that the region didn’t miss out on the community and economic benefits of the annual Gympie Country Music Muster.

The VfM Strategy was also a crucial tool for the QldRA to mitigate funding problems the Government had experienced after previous disasters and with other stimulus programs.

In March and May 2011, the World Bank toured regional Queensland and praised the QldRA for its “highly effective relief approach”.

“What you have here is absolutely marvellous, especially the quick response to the catastrophe and the way you have institutionally put together the QldRA,” said Ferid Belhaj, World Bank Country Director for the Pacific. “What you have done is world’s best practice.”

By providing a complete solution for allocating reconstruction funding, we have delivered a lasting legacy for the people of Queensland.

“Through the hands-on support provided by Advisian, the QldRA has ensured significant momentum across Queensland’s state and local reconstruction programs,” said Newton.

“Importantly, the systems and processes established with the support of Advisian are certain to leave a positive legacy for future natural disaster responses. They will provide an ongoing basis for implementing short- and long-term responses to disaster events in any jurisdiction.”