Bushfire Relief Hub

12th January 2020
Current as at January 21, 2020

The bushfires of late 2019 and early 2020 have devastated enormous areas of Australia. Financial assistance is available to victims from a wide range of sources and making sense of it all at a time of trauma and loss can be overwhelming.

This Bushfire Relief Hub is designed to aid financial advisers in guiding their affected clients as they attempt to recover from this disaster. The information is focused primarily on financial assistance, however there is also a wide range of social support services available.

Please note, no specific state-based support has been identified in the ACT, WA or the Northern Territory. Click the links in the tables below to skip to each section.

Federal Government Assistance

Australian Disaster Recovery Payment  Disaster Recovery Allowance
New Zealanders ATO
NDIS Passports / DFAT
AFCA

State Government Assistance – Commonwealth/State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements

Disaster Relief Grants Disaster Recovery Grants – Primary Producers, Small Businesses, Not-For-Profits Special Disaster Grants
Disaster Relief Loans – Primary Producers, Small Businesses, NFPs, Sporting Clubs Natural Disaster Transport Subsidy

State Government Assistance – NSW

Bushfire Housing Assistance Service Sport and Rec Clubs Grant Department of Primary Industry
Service NSW Volunteer Firefighter Financial Support Program Employees and employer law assistance

State Government Assistance – SA

State Tax Exemptions Replacement Documentation
SA Bushfire Appeal Personal Hardship Emergency Fund

State Government Assistance – Vic

Emergency Relief Assistance Payments Replacement Documentation Fines
Vic Bushfire Appeal State Tax Exemptions

State Government Assistance – Qld

Replacement Documentation

State Government Assistance – Tas

Emergency Relief Grants

Local Government Assistance

Non-Government Assistance

Red Cross Salvation Army
St Vincent de Paul Banks
Telecommunications Insurance claims
Other aid agencies

Federal government assistance

The starting point for any affected clients should be the Australian government’s Disaster Assist website. Secondarily, the Human Services website also provides valuable information on disaster recovery payments.

Australian Disaster Recovery Payment

This is a one-off payment that can be made in two instalments if requested. The payment is $1000 per affected adult and $400 per affected child under 16. Only one payment is available per affected person.

An Additional Payment for Children of $400 per child under 16 has also been enacted for those eligible for the Disaster Recovery Payment.

Eligibility conditions

To qualify for the Australian Disaster Recovery Payment, a client must:

  • Be in a designated affected Local Government Area (LGA),
  • Be 16 years or older or receiving a social security payment, and
  • Be adversely affected by a bushfire.

Being adversely affected by a bushfire includes:

  • Being injured,
  • Being immediately related to an Australian resident or citizen who died,
  • Having your principle home destroyed or required to be demolished,
  • Having the interior of your principal home sustain major damage,
  • Having the interior of your principal home exposed to the elements,
  • Having your principal home declared structurally unsound,
  • Having the interior of your residence affected by sewage contamination, and
  • Being the principal carer of a child who has suffered any of the events listed above.

Couples can both apply for the payment but must do so separately.

LGAs affected

Click on the links for lists of affected LGAs and the timeframes in which the damage must have occurred:

Clients generally have 6 months from the date the Minister declares the bushfire to be a major disaster. The links above also include cut-off dates for claims by region.

Claiming

Eligible clients are best advised to organise documentation before making a claim. This will include proof of identity and proof of the damage done by the bushfire. The Department of Human Services recommends claiming over the phone for the fastest results – call 180 22 66.

Disaster Recovery Allowance

This is a periodic payment, payable for a maximum period of 13 weeks, available to those who have had their income directly affected by the bushfires. It is a taxable payment.

Eligibility conditions

To qualify for the Australian Disaster Recovery Payment, a client must:

  • Be an Australian resident or hold an eligible visa,
  • Live or derive income in a designated affected Local Government Area (LGA),
  • Be 16 years or older at the time of the bushfire and not a dependent child,
  • Lose income as a result of a bushfire, and
  • Have income below the set thresholds in the fortnight after income is lost.

Those in receipt of any of the following are NOT eligible for the Disaster Recovery Allowance:

  • An income support payment or pension (including the age pension, disability support pension, youth allowance, Austudy, newstart allowance, carer payment or parenting payment),
  • Parental Leave or Dad and Partner Pay,
  • Austudy living allowance,
  • Farm Household Allowance, or
  • A DVA service pension.
Income thresholds

Eligible claimants must have income below a set threshold in the fortnight following their income being reduced in order to qualify for the Disaster Recovery Allowance. The thresholds (as of September 20, 2019) are: For those aged 22 or older:

  • Single, no children – $1,060.67
  • Single, principal carer with one or more dependent children – $1,615.75
  • Single, dependent child but not principal carer – $1,136.83
  • Member of a couple (each) – $970.17

For those aged 16-21:

  • Single, under 18, no children, living at home – $582.83
  • Single, over 18, no children, living at home – $668.50
  • Single, under 22, no children, required to live away from home – $931.67
  • Single, with children – $1,170.83
  • Member of a couple, no children, away from home – $931.67
  • Member of a couple with children – $1,007.33
Payment amount

If the claimant’s bushfire-affected income for the 13 weeks after they first lost income is less than the average weekly ordinary-time earnings for a full-time adult (according to the ABS), their allowance is paid at their maximum newstart or youth allowance rate. If their bushfire-affected income is equal to or greater than the average weekly ordinary-time earnings, then their payment rate is nil.

Note – In the ABS’ May figures, the average weekly ordinary-time earnings for a full-time adult was $1,634.80.

Income definition

Bushfire affected income amounts exclude:

  • Income from bank accounts held in trust,
  • Payments to compensate for lost earnings or lost earning capacity, and
  • Income from private companies.
Claiming

Eligible clients are best advised to organise documentation before making a claim. This will include proof of identity and proof of income lost as a result the bushfire. The Department of Human Services recommends claiming over the phone for the fastest results – call 180 22 66.

LGAs affected

Click on the links for lists of affected LGAs and the timeframes in which the damage must have occurred:

Clients generally have 6 months from the date the Minister declares the bushfire to be a major disaster. The links above also include cut-off dates for claims by region.

New Zealanders

New Zealanders who have been affected by the bushfires may also be able to claim the Australian Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance. In order to do so, they must meet further qualification criteria in addition to those listed above. These are:

  • They are on a non-protected Special Class Visa (subclass 444) and are considered a non-resident under the Social Security Act, and
  • They have paid tax in Australia in at least one of the three previous financial years or will do so before December 31, 2020.

ATO

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has announced a range of tax reporting relief measures to assist those affected by the bushfires. The ATO can assist by:

  • Allowing extra time to lodge tax forms (including SMSf returns and BAS statements) or pay tax debts,
  • Help find lost Tax File Numbers,
  • Re-issue tax returns, activity statements and notices of assessment,
  • Fast track refunds,
  • Set up payment plans including instituting an interest-free period, and
  • Remit any penalties applied during the bushfire period.

Click here for more information on these measures, including the post-codes eligible for relief.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) support

Emergency measures are in place for NDIS recipients and providers. Click here for more information.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)

DFAT may replace passports lost in the bushfires free of charge. Enquiries about such replacements can be made by calling the Australian Passport Information Service on 131 232.

AFCA guidance

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority has issued guidance and is providing dedicated support to those impacted by the bushfires. Click here to read more about making an insurance claim, getting help for financial difficulty and support for small businesses.

State government assistance

Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements

There are a range of measures available to victims of the bushfires that are provided through a joint federal and state funding mechanism. These payments are administered by state-based offices but are relatively uniform throughout the states. At the time of writing, some or all of these payments are available in NSW, Vic, SA, Qld and Tas.

Disaster Relief Grants

Disaster Relief Grants are available to individuals and families whose homes and essential contents have been damaged or destroyed by the bushfires. The amount of a grant depends on the assessed needs of the affected household. In SA, grants are called Re-establishment grants and are capped at $10,000. In Vic the payments are called Emergency re-establishment assistance and are capped at $42,250 per household. In Tasmania, the grants are called recovery and restoration grants and are capped at $9,400. In Queensland there are three grant types:

  1. Essential Household Contents grants – maximum $1,765 for single adults and $5,300 for couples/families
  2. Structural Assistance grants – maximum $10,995 for single adults and $14,685 for couples/families
  3. Essential Services Safety and Reconnection grants – up to $200 for an inspection for each essential service (electricity, gas, water, sewage) and up to $4,200 to repair essential services
Eligibility

To qualify for a Disaster Relief Grant and individual or family must:

  • Be a low-income earner and meet an income and/or assets test,
  • Be able to show that the property damaged or destroyed is their principal place of residence,
  • Not be covered by insurance,
  • Be able to demonstrate that the damage was caused by the disaster, and
  • Lodge a claim within 4 months of the disaster.

Additional requirements can apply in each state. Note – eligibility information for Tasmanian claimants was not readily available at the time of publishing.

NSW Income and assets tests

The income test examines the disposable income of the household at the time of the disaster. Disposable income is considered the household’s remaining income after rent or mortgage payments.

The maximum allowable disposable income to enable eligibility for a Disaster Relief Grant is based on the full Age Pension thresholds. These thresholds are based on the claimants’ relationship status and dependent children.

The assets test looks at realisable assets such as savings, shares or other properties. If the household has realisable assets above $10,000 for individuals or $20,000 for families, these will be included in eligibility considerations.

Qld income test

The income test in Qld is based on before-tax weekly income, and the thresholds are:

  • $988 for individuals
  • $1,367 for couples
  • $1,368 for a sole parent with one child
  • $1,694 for a couple with one child
  • Add $327 per week for each additional dependent child and $378 per week for each additional dependent adult
SA and Vic income tests

At the time of writing no information has been found on how the SA and Vic income tests operate.

Claiming

Claims can be commenced via phone – call 1800 018 444 in NSW, 1800 302 787 in SA or 1800 173 349 in Qld. In Vic applications may be commenced at relief centres. The Community Recovery Portal can be used to lodge claims in Qld. In Tasmania, claims can be made by calling Housing Tasmania on 1300 665 663. Supporting documentation including income and asset verification, evidence of damage and insurance documentation should be organised in order to establish the claim.

Disaster Recovery Grants

Disaster Recovery Grants of up to $15,000 in NSW and $75,000 in SA ($50,000 for small businesses) are available to bushfire affected primary producers, small businesses and not-for-profits. The grants are provided through the Rural Assistance Authority in NSW, a number of government bodies in SA. No equivalent grants in Vic, Qld or Tas were noted at the time of writing.

Primary Producers
Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for a Disaster Recovery Grant, a primary producer must:

  • Be in a designated bushfire affected LGA,
  • Be a property owner, share-farmer or lessee in the grazing industry,
  • Operate as a sole trader, partnership, trust or private company that trades in agricultural products,
  • Have suffered damage as a result of the bushfires,
  • Be registered with the ATO as a primary producer and have an ABN,
  • Earn more than 50% of their gross income from primary production under normal seasonal conditions, and
  • Have been operating a farm business in the area prior to the disaster and intend to reinstate the business after.

Additional requirements can apply in each state.

What can be claimed

A range of costs can be claimed, including:

  • Replacement of pasture or fertiliser,
  • Repair and replacement of equipment,
  • Disposal and removal of dead animals,
  • Purchase of fodder and feed supplements,
  • Fencing,
  • Internal roads,
  • Dam walls,
  • Creak crossing, causeways and gullies,
  • Earthwork repairs,
  • Small motors
  • Removal of debris and surface debris from crops, and
  • Posts and trellises for vines.
What cannot be claimed

Exclusions include the following costs:

  • Those covered by insurance,
  • Those claimed under any other government grant scheme,
  • Sprays or chemicals,
  • Loss of income,
  • Damage to dwellings,
  • Labour,
  • Fuel,
  • Capital items purchased after the bushfire,
  • Upgrades or improvements,
  • Animal husbandry,
  • Vehicles, and
  • Replacement of fruit trees.
Claiming

Claims in NSW can be made online or using a paper form. In SA it can be done by email, post or in person. Claims can be made up to six months after the disaster has been declared.

Small businesses
Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for a Disaster Recovery Grant, a small business must:

  • Have fewer than 20 full time (or equivalent) employees,
  • Under normal circumstances, derive more than 50% of total gross income from the small business enterprise,
  • Be a registered small business, partnership or sole trader with an ABN.
  • Be in a designated bushfire affected LGA,
  • Have suffered damage to their premises and/or tools of trade as a result of the bushfires, and
  • Have been operating a small business in the area prior to the disaster and intend to reinstate the business after.

Note – business that operate from multiple locations may be eligible for multiple grants.

What can be claimed

The following costs can be claimed:

  • Clean-up, including additional labour costs and clean-up equipment and materials,
  • Debris removal, including removal of damaged goods and the cost of disposal, and
  • Restoration, including the cost of safety inspections, essential repairs to internal fittings, purchase or lease/hires costs of equipment essential to the resumption of the business, once only replacement of stock that is essential to the resumption of business, relocation to temporary premises where the normal premises cannot be immediately used for running the business and the repair or replacement of damaged plant and equipment.
What cannot be claimed

The following costs cannot be claimed:

  • Those covered by insurance,
  • Those relating to businesses that are part of a national chain or company (although franchisees may be able to claim),
  • Those relating to public companies,
  • Loss of income without any damage,
  • Those relating to home-based hobby businesses which produce less than 50% of an applicant’s income,
  • Damage to dwellings,
  • Loss of trade or income, and
  • Normal labour costs or equipment use costs.
Claiming

In NSW, claims can be made online or using a paper form. In SA claims can be commenced online via the SA Business website. Claims can be made up to six months after the disaster has been declared.

Not-for-profit organisations
Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for a Disaster Recovery Grant, a not-for-profit organisation must:

  • Be an incorporated charity or not-for-profit registered with the Australian Charities and Non-Profits Commission,
  • Be in a designated bushfire affected LGA, and
  • Have incurred costs as a result of the disaster that they do not have the financial capacity to cover.
What cannot be claimed

The following costs cannot be claimed:

  • Those covered by insurance,
  • Loss of revenue,
  • Those relating to clubs that have large commercial operations or gaming areas, and
  • Those where the organisation has the financial capacity to fund their own repairs.
Claiming

In NSW, claims can be made online or using a paper form. A claims process in SA could not be located. Claims can be made up to six months after the disaster has been declared.

Special Disaster Grants

Special Disaster Grants of up to $75,000 in NSW and Vic and $25,000 in Qld are available to bushfire affected primary producers. In Qld an initial grant of up to $5,000 is available with a subsequent grant of up to $20,000 possible.

Eligibility
NSW

To be eligible for a Disaster Recovery Grant, a primary producer must:

  • be a primary producer,
  • hold an Australian Business Number (ABN) and have held that ABN at the time of the disaster,
  • have a primary production enterprise located in the defined area for the eligible disaster that has suffered direct damage as a result of the eligible disaster,
  • have been engaged in carrying on the primary production enterprise when affected by the eligible disaster, and
  • intend to re-establish the primary production enterprise.

A primary producer is someone who:

  • is a sole trader who spends part of their labour on, and derives the majority of their income from a primary production enterprise in agriculture (including aquaculture, horticulture and viticulture), fisheries, hunting or trapping, private forestry or apiary; or
  • is in relation to a partnership, private company or trust that carries on a primary production enterprise, the partners in the partnership, shareholders in the company or beneficiaries of the trust who spend part of their labour on, and derive the majority of their income from, the primary production enterprise.

Where an claimant’s income from primary production is less than 50 per cent of their total income, they may nonetheless be eligible for a grant if it can be demonstrated that;

  • in the ordinary course of business the applicant would meet that requirement, but:
  • their primary production income is currently reduced due to drought, and/or
  • due to long lead times to full production, (e.g. an orchard or vineyard is in early stages of development), the applicant expects to earn such an amount of income within a three year period; and
  • the claimant’s total off-farm income (per person) is less than $100,000 gross per annum.
Vic and Qld

Eligibility criteria in Vic and Qld is unavailable at the time of writing.

What can be claimed
NSW

A range of costs can be claimed, including:

  • Hiring, leasing or purchase of equipment and/or materials to undertake clean-up,
  • Additional labour costs (above and beyond normal wage expenditure,
  • Disposing of damaged goods and injured or dead livestock, including associated costs,
  • Essential repairs to a building or fittings in a building. The repair must be essential for resuming operation of the primary production enterprise,
  • Repairing or replacing fencing and horticultural netting (not covered by other assistance),
  • Reconditioning/repairing essential plant and equipment, including repairing damage to, or replacing, water tanks, de-silting dams, water reticulation systems, forestry equipment, aquaculture and fishing equipment,
  • Salvaging (but not replacing) crops, grain, feed, fertiliser and timber,
  • Health assessments, treatments and maintenance of livestock, poultry and aquaculture species,
  • Purchase of fodder, grain, and feeds for livestock and poultry and supplementary pollen or pollen substitute, and/or stock agistment costs, and associated transport costs (not covered by other assistance),
  • Purchase or hire/lease costs for equipment essential to the immediate resumption of the business
  • Replacement of essential water used for firefighting purposes,
  • Water cartage, and
  • Payment for tradespeople to conduct safety inspections.

Costs that have been compensated under another financial assistance program cannot be claimed a second time.

Qld

A range of costs can be claimed, including:

  • Hiring or leasing equipment or materials to clean premises, property or equipment,
  • Removing and disposing of debris, damaged goods, materials including injured or dead livestock;
  • Repairing or replacing fencing on the property,
  • Purchasing and transporting fodder or feed for livestock,
  • Replacing livestock,
  • Replacing lost or damaged plants, salvaging crops, repairing or restoring fields;
  • Repairing, reconditioning or replacing essential plant or equipment;
  • Maintaining the health of livestock, and
  • Paying additional wages to an employee to assist with clean-up work.
Vic

Information not available at the time of writing.

Claiming

Claims in NSW can be made until July 31, 2020. Information on how to claim, as well as the online claims portal, is available on the RAA website.

Expressions of interest in Vic can be registered through the Victorian Government website.

Claims in Qld can be made until June 30, 2020, are administered by the QRIDA and can be commenced by calling 1800 623 946. Information on payments is available on the QRIDA website.

Disaster Relief Loans

Disaster Relief Loans are available to primary producers, small businesses, not-for-profits and sporting and recreation clubs in disaster-declared LGAs. These loans are administered by the Rural Assistance Authority in NSW, the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority in Qld and Business South Australia in SA. No information was available on equivalent loans in Vic or Tas at the time of writing.

Note – The federal government announced plans to provide concessional loans of up to $500,000 however little detail is available at the time of writing.

Primary Producers
Maximum loan and conditions
  • Maximum loan – $130,000 in NSW, $250,000 in Qld
  • Maximum term – 10 years Interest rate – 0.82% per annum
  • Interest and repayment-free period – 2 years
  • Other fees and charges – Security searches and registration
  • Security – mortgage over the land, other security considered
Eligibility

To be eligible for a Disaster Relief Loan, a primary producer must:

  • Earn the majority of their gross income from primary production,
  • Be in working occupation of the farm,
  • Conduct the farming activities on a rural area in a disaster-declared LGA,
  • Be in urgent and genuine need of financial assistance,
  • Be able to demonstrate that commercial loan terms would cause their farming business to be placed in financial difficulty,
  • Be able to demonstrate that the farming business is viable long-term, and
  • Be able to demonstrate that the farming business has the capacity to repay the loan,
  • Be able to provide acceptable security.
Claiming

Claims can be made online or using a paper form in NSW. Click here for information on how to claim in Qld. Claims can be made up to six months after the disaster has been declared.

Small businesses
Maximum loan and conditions
  • Maximum loan – $130,000 in NSW and $250,000 in Qld
  • Maximum term – 10 years
  • Interest rate – 1.37% per annum
  • Interest and repayment-free period – 2 years
  • Other fees and charges – Security searches and registration
  • Security – mortgage over the land, other security considered
Eligibility

To be eligible for a Disaster Relief Loan, a small business owner must:

  • Earn the majority of their gross income from the business,
  • Be in working occupation of the business,
  • Operate the business with in a disaster-declared LGA and plan to re-establish that business in the same LGA,
  • Be in urgent and genuine need of financial assistance,
  • Be able to demonstrate that commercial loan terms would cause their business to be placed in financial difficulty,
  • Be able to demonstrate that the business is viable long-term,
  • Be able to demonstrate that the business has the capacity to repay the loan, and
  • Be able to provide acceptable security.

In Qld, only small businesses affected by the September 2019 bushfires are eligible for a loan at the time of writing.

Claiming

Claims can be made online or using a paper form in NSW. Click here for information on how to claim in Qld. In SA, expressions of interest can be registered on the Business SA website. Claims can be made up to six months after the disaster has been declared.

Not-for-profit organisations
Maximum loan and conditions
  • Maximum loan – $25,000 in NSW and $100,000 in Qld
  • Maximum term – 5 years in NSW, 10 years in Qld
  • Interest rate – 1.37% per annum in NSW, 0.82% per annum in Qld
  • Interest and repayment-free period – none in NSW, 2 years in Qld
  • Other fees and charges – Security searches and registration
  • Security – mortgage over the land, other security considered
Eligibility

To be eligible for a Disaster Relief Loan, a not-for-profit organisation must:

  • Be an incorporated charity or not-for-profit organisation,
  • Perform a service to the community or environment and be funded by grants or donations,
  • Not perform a commercial function,
  • Be in a designated bushfire affected LGA,
  • Have incurred costs as a result of the disaster that they do not have the financial capacity to cover,
  • Be able to demonstrate that the business has the capacity to repay the loan,
  • Be unable to obtain assistance through normal channels, and
  • Be able to provide acceptable security.

In Qld, only not-for-profit organisations affected by the September 2019 bushfires are eligible for a loan at the time of writing.

Claiming

Claims can be made online or using a paper form in NSW. Click here for information on how to claim in Qld. Claims can be made up to six months after the disaster has been declared.

Sporting and recreation clubs (NSW only)
Maximum loan and conditions
  • Maximum loan – $10,000
  • Maximum term – 5 years
  • Interest rate – 1.37% per annum
  • Interest and repayment-free period – none
  • Other fees and charges – Security searches and registration
  • Security – an agreement from the members of the committee that the loan will be repaid
Eligibility

To be eligible for a Disaster Relief Loan, a sporting or recreation club must:

  • Have suffered significant loss or damages as a result of the fire,
  • Operate in a designated bushfire affected LGA,
  • Have incurred costs as a result of the disaster that they do not have the financial capacity to cover, and
  • Be in urgent and genuine need of financial assistance.
Claiming

Claims can be made online or using a paper form in NSW. Claims can be made up to six months after the disaster has been declared.

Natural Disaster Transport Subsidy

A Natural Disaster Transport Subsidy is available to bushfire-affected farmers to help with the cost of transporting fodder and water and stock to and from sale, slaughter or an agistment. The subsidy is for up to 50% of a maximum of $15,000 of transport costs per farm enterprise, per financial year. It is administrated via the RAA in NSW. No information on a subsidy in SA, Qld, Vic or Tas has been located at the time of writing.

Eligibility, exclusions and claiming

The subsidy is subject to very specific conditions depending on the item(s) being transported. Click here for further details.

NSW

NSW’s support for bushfire victims is being co-ordinated primarily through the Justice Department’s Office of Emergency Management, Service NSW and the Rural Assistance Authority.

Bushfire Housing Assistance Service

The Bushfire Housing Assistance Service is there to assist those affected by the bushfires. Assistance that can be provided includes:

  • Emergency temporary accommodation,
  • Assistance with private rental bonds and advanced rent,
  • Sourcing accommodation for private rental or short term let,
  • Assistance sourcing accommodation in local communities or local communities near family.

This service can be accessed by calling the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444.

Sporting and recreation clubs and associations grant

NSW Treasury is providing grants of up to $2000 to bushfire affect sporting and recreation clubs and associations to help with clean-up and removal of debris. Claims can be made via email to natural-disasters@treasury.nsw.gov.au or by calling 02 9228 5181.

NSW Department of Primary Industry (DPI)

The NSW DPI and Local Land Services are providing emergency assistance to bushfire affected landholders. They assist with:

  • Emergency fodder,
  • Emergency stock water,
  • Veterinary assistance,
  • Livestock euthanasia and burial,
  • Livestock feeding and management advice, and
  • Care of animals in evacuation centres.

To seeks assistance, call the Agriculture and Animal Services Hotline on 1800 814 647.

Service NSW
General assistance

Service NSW is providing a wide range of services and assistance to those who are bushfire affected. These include:

  • Free replacement documentation (including birth certificates, marriage certificates, driver’s licenses, NSW fair trading licences and permits),
  • Waiving of fees (including eToll replacement fees), and
  • Duty refunds on destroyed vehicles.
Volunteer Firefighters’ Financial Support Program

Volunteer firefighters that are self-employed or employed by a small to medium-sized business may be eligible for a daily payment form the NSW government. The payments are $300 a day up to a maximum of $6,000 for the 2019/20 financial year.

Eligibility

To qualify for the support program, a volunteer must:

  • Be from a recognised firefighting organisation in NSW,
  • Have been volunteering as part of an operational response to bushfires for at least 10 days. This can include reasonable travel and recovery time.
  • Be self-employed or employed by a business with less than $50 million in turnover in 2018/19 and/or less than 250 employees.
Applications

Volunteers can apply via the Service NSW website.

NSW Business Chamber

The NSW Business Chamber is offering free business law advice to bushfire affected businesses. Free guidance on employers’ obligations to employees is also available. Call 13 29 59 for more information.

SA

The Department of Human Services in SA is a useful central hub for those affected by the bushfires.

State tax exemptions

RevenueSA has announced a number of measures to provide state tax relief to those affected by the bushfires. Tax relief includes waiving of stamp duty on replacing destroyed vehicles (up to $1,940 for passenger vehicles and $1,470 for commercial vehicles) and homes (up to $48,830), as well as land tax relief for 2019/20 and 2020/21.

Replacement documentation

The registrar of births, deaths and marriages in SA will replace documents (such as birth, marriage or change of name certificates) lost in the bushfires free of charge. The process to organise replacement documents is outlined on the SA government website.

SA Bushfire Appeal

Bushfire-affected SA residents may be able to receive direct financial assistance from the SA Bushfire Appeal. Claims can be made online through the State Emergency Relief Fund.

Personal Hardship Emergency Fund

Personal Hardship Emergency Grants of up to $700 per family or $280 per adult are available to bushfire-affected South Australians. How recipients use the grants is at their discretion and claims can be made by calling the Recovery Hotline on 1800 302 787.

Vic

The Vic Emergency website is a useful hub for those affected by the bushfires in Victoria.

Emergency Relief Assistance Payments

Emergency Relief Assistance Payments are available to bushfire-affected Victorians to assist with emergency food, accommodation, clothing, medication and personal items. The payments are up to $560 per adult and $280 per child to a maximum of $1,960 per household.

Exclusions

These payments are not for assistance with:

  • The cost of cleaning up fallen trees or fences damaged by those trees,
  • Costs related to power outages,
  • Business losses or loss of income,
  • Fence replacement,
  • Motor vehicle repairs or towing, or
  • Paying insurance excesses.
Applications

Applications can be made at Emergency Relief Centres or by calling 1800 961 054.

Replacement documentation

VicRoads will replace documents and provide a range of other services for those lost in the bushfires free of charge. See the VicRoads website for more information.

Fines

Fines Victoria are providing assistance to those affected by the bushfires with outstanding fines. Contact Fines Victoria for more information.

Victorian Bushfire Appeal

The Victorian government has commenced a bushfire appeal however, at the time of writing, how these funds will be distributed has not been determined.

Stamp duty and land tax exemptions

The Victorian government announced a number of state tax exemptions for those affected by the bushfires, including:

  • Land tax exemptions for those whose properties have been lost to, or signifncantly damaged by, the bushfires,
  • Land tax exemptions on eligible properties being used to provide free accommodation to those displaced by the bushfires,
  • Stamp duty exemptions of up to $55,000 for those forced to purchase a new property due to the bushfires, and
  • Up to $2,100 in duty relief on the purchse of two new vehicles where previous vehicles have been destroyed by the fires.

Qld

Replacement documentation

Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads will replace documents and provide a range of other services for those lost in the bushfires free of charge. Click here for more information.

Tas

Emergency relief grants

Emergency relief grants of $250 per adult and $125 per child (up to a maximum of $1,000 per eligible family) to help bushfire affected Tasmanians in Fingal. The grants can be claimed at the Fingal Neighbourhood House, 20 Talbot St, Fingal.

Local government support

Those affected by the bushfires should contact their local council for assistance. Click here for maps of Local Government Areas. It is worth keeping an eye on local council websites for information updates.

Non-government grants and support

There are a wide range of non-government bodies and companies offering assistance to those affected by the bushfires. The list below is an example of some of the major organisations offering support.

Red Cross

The Red Cross is offering emergency grants of up to $5,000 per bushfire-affected household. Click here to read more.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is offering a range of support services to those affected by the bushfires, including financial assistance. Click here to read more.

St Vincent de Paul

St Vincent de Paul is currently offering a wide range of support services for those affected by the bushfires in NSW, including:

  • Food and grocery vouchers,
  • Clothing, blankets and other essentials;
  • Financial assistance, and
  • Interest free loans.

Click here to read more.

Banks

Many banks have set up disaster-relief funds that assist affected customers. Assistance may include fee waivers and interest and repayment holidays. Some banks are offering small grants to help customers in the aftermath of the fires. Click on the links below for each bank’s relief package.

Commonwealth Bank Westpac
NAB ANZ
Bendigo Bank Macquarie Bank
AMP ME Bank
BoQ Suncorp

Telecommunications providers

Phone and internet providers are offering fee free use of their services in certain circumstances. Those affected should check with their provider.

Insurance claims

Advice on how to best approach making insurance claims is available from a wide range of sources. The AFCA link above provides a guide and the Financial Rights Legal Centre in NSW provides a comprehensive guide on the issues facing bushfire victims claiming on their insurance. Legal Aid services in each state may also be of assistance and those who cannot remember the name of their insurer may contact the Insurance Council of Australia on 1300 728 228.

Other major support agencies

There are a number of other major support agencies who may be able to provide support to bushfire victims or help affected animals. These include the Anglicare, the RSPCA and WIRES.

38/23 Narabang Way
Belrose NSW 2085
T: 1300 000 499