The Black Summer bushfires in 2019-20 destroyed more than 3,000 homes and the floods in Queensland and New South Wales in 2022 destroyed a further 5,000.
When these disasters occurred, there was a shortage of appropriate and purpose-built temporary housing solutions to provide to vulnerable people. There were — and still are — limited national and state-based temporary housing solutions, assets, or service capabilities that can quickly and efficiently assist people in need.
Australia’s increasingly frequent extreme weather events have created a demand for temporary emergency housing that requires scale and sustainability. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to pricing increases on materials as well as delays to the construction and supply industries that have restricted the ability of affected communities to rebuild in a timely manner.
A national temporary accommodation and disaster response infrastructure program is required to address future natural disaster situations and to ensure that the nation has the capacity to respond.
Minderoo Foundation identified an opportunity to design and develop a program which partnered with state governments to build 297 transportable temporary accommodation pods (“recovery pods”). To date, these have assisted more than 400 families across impacted communities in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia. The recovery pods were originally designed for rural settings to enable people to remain on their land, however 25 are currently being trialled in a village environment in New South Wales to support post-flood recovery, as the only asset immediately available. This demonstrates the need for having temporary accommodation assets available to cater for communities in need following future events.
The benefits of a national temporary housing accommodation program include but are not limited to the following: