The Queensland Government’s Community Recovery teams are standing by prepared and ready to go as soon as access into the North Queensland and Far North Queensland regions becomes possible following Cyclone Yasi.

Community Services Minister Karen Struthers said eight Community Recovery teams of more than 130 people were ready to commence Community Recovery operations.

“The sheer scale of the cyclone will make access into the area difficult but as soon as the Police and Emergency Management Queensland determine the affected area can be accessed safely, we will be in there,” Ms Struthers said.

“Once on the ground our teams will set about establishing Community Recovery Centres which will provide access to a range of supports including financial and emotional assistance, access to referral services and housing information.

“There will also be outreach teams in the community making sure services are targeted to those in the most need.

“Many of these staff will be battened down tonight with their own families and staying safe so they can begin helping the community at the earliest opportunity.”

Ms Struthers said people in the north and far north regions could be assured that the Department of Communities had well advanced plans in place.

“We have a Regional Recovery Controller in place in Townsville already and highly experienced staff from across the state are also ready to be deployed,” she said.

“Our recovery teams will work alongside our recovery partners the Red Cross, Lifeline and St. Vincent de Paul to support the many communities set to be affected by this major natural disaster.

“Support will also come from interstate with a contingent of New South Wales workers due to arrive in Queensland next Monday being immediately deployed into the North Queensland region.”

Ms Struthers said that in the lead up to the cyclone the department had been working to ensure vulnerable community members, including people with a disability, were contacted to ensure that they were well prepared and safe.

Multicultural Affairs has been contacting key community organisations to provide disaster information for people from non-English speaking backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services (ATSIS) has contacted all Indigenous communities.

ATSIS has been working with mayors in Indigenous communities to implement disaster management plans and communication strategies in areas with high Indigenous populations.

People needing support following Cyclone Yasi should call 1800 173 349. Locations of recovery centres will be established once the cyclone has passed.

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