Provision of temporary accommodation for construction workers: Learnings from Queensland post Cyclone Larry

Provision of temporary accommodation for construction workers: Learnings from Queensland post Cyclone Larry

Alice Yan Chang-Richards, Suzanne Wilkinson, Erica Seville, David Brunsdon

Resilient Organisations Research Report 2014/01, February 2014

Executive summary

The Queensland Government in Australia provided temporary accommodation for construction workers following Cyclone Larry, which struck the Innisfail region in March 2006.  This initiative aimed to address workers' medium- to long-term accommodation needs to facilitate recovery and repairs in the affected areas.  The Department of Housing and Public Works took a lead role for facilitation of this initiative.  This report provides a summary of the temporary accommodation model used after Cyclone Larry.

In total, the Department of Housing and Public Works facilitated approximately 400 beds for temporary accommodation and over 30 community facilities across Queensland.  A major component in the success of this initiative was that it worked with existing operators to facilitate an expansion of their facilities to meet accommodation demand.  This improved occupancy rates for operators, increased revenue and allowed those with available land to finance expansion plans to meet demand as the workforce increases over time.

The provision of accommodation for both workers and displaced residents was considered by the Queensland Government as being equally important.  A core rationale for providing medium term accommodation following disasters is that provision should be in response to a lack of capacity in the community.  The Queensland Government concluded that assistance with workers' accommodation was necessary on the following basis:

  • Alack of transitional accommodation for trade workers often forces tradespeople to rent any houses available on the private market, consequently reducing availability for residents.
  • Trade work's ability to pay above-market rent to secure rental accommodation exacerbates inflation in the housing market.
  • The impact of tradespeople monopolising available accommodation has a negative impact on tourism and primary production (in this case sugar cane and bananas) that relies on itinerant labour.
  • The need to minimise the impact of accommodation demands from construction workers required for repairs on the overall labour and housing markets.