Bushfire Assistance & Resources
To help members and others in bushfire-affected areas to access information and assistance at this difficult time, some key links and resources have been brought together under four broad categories.
Disaster Recovery Grants: Grants of up to $15,000 are available if your business has been directly affected by bush fire.
Applications can be made to the Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/dis... for eligibility criteria.
Natural Disaster Relief Loans: The Natural Disaster Relief Scheme assists Small Business Operators directly affected by a declared natural disaster. Small businesses who have been directly affected by a declared natural disaster including floods, fires or storm damage, may be eligible for low interest loans of up to 130,000. Visit https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/dis...for more information and loan guidelines.
Australian Government Disaster Recovery Funding: The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment is a one-time payment up to $1,000 for eligible adults and $400 for eligible children, for those who have been adversely affected by the bushfires.
Australian Government Disaster Recovery Allowance: This is a short-term payment that is available to eligible Australian citizens whose income has been impacted as a direct result of the NSW Bushfires in August 2019 through to January 2020. An allowance paid for a maximum of 13 weeks is available to eligible individuals, including employees, sole traders and primary producers, whose income has been directly affected by a declared disaster.
The government also announced the establishment of a National Bushfire Recovery Fund on Monday 6 January 2020. It is expected that part of this fund will be used to support primary producers affected by the fires. More information will be available via the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, which at the time of writing was being established.
Financial Counselling: the government’s Rural Financial Counselling Service program is a free, confidential service that’s available to farmers that are experiencing or are at risk of financial hardship.
You can learn more at www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/assistance/rural-financial-counselling-service or call 1800 686 175 to be referred to your nearest office.
A rural financial counsellor can help you work through and understand your current financial situation, including the implications of the current situation, and connect you with relevant professional services.
Financial Counselling Australia
Free, independent and confidential support to people in financial difficulty.
P: 1800 007 007 or visit www.financialcounsellingaustra...
Financial Rights Legal Centre
Advice and advocacy for consumers in financial distress. P: 1300 663 464 or visit www.financialrights.org.au
NSW RFS volunteer firefighters: RFS volunteers in NSW Will be provided financial support for loss of income of up to $300 per day, up to a total of $6,000 per person for those who are self-employed or work from small and medium businesses, and who have been called out for more than 10 days this fire season. Information on how to apply will be made available soon. RFS volunteers in NSW can register their interest at: https://www.service.nsw.gov.au...
Emergency water provisions: may be available to some landholders where there is a significant impact on animal welfare or other agricultural activities. In New South Wales, you can contact the NSW DPI Agricultural and Animal Services Hotline on 1800 814 647.
Blaze Aid: a volunteer organisation that assists those in need in rebuilding fences and other structures that have been damaged or destroyed after natural disasters. https://blazeaid.com.au/
Horticulture/agriculture recovery information:
- Farm recovery after bushfire – website, video and quick reference guides from Agriculture Victoria
- Recovery after bushfires – website and fact sheets from PIRSA
- Post bushfire advice for viticulture and horticulture producers – website from PIRSA
- Farm recovery after fire – advice and fact sheets from the Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development
- Growcom’s Horticultural Natural Disaster Toolkit – a guide to natural disasters, including a post-event checklist/action plan
- Using biological approaches for soil and pasture recovery after fire – fact sheet from the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority, Victoria
- Weed invasion following natural disasters – general agriculture information from Agriculture Victoria, with a separate video available here
- Dealing with erosion following bushfires – video from the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority, Victoria
- Property hazards following a bushfire – a SafeWork NSW fact sheet with advice for returning to fire-affected houses, sheds and other buildings
- Ash and water tanks – fact sheet with information on water tanks in bushfire-affected areas from the Victorian Environmental Protection Authority
Legal resources: Many legal services are offering free legal advice if you have been affected by the bushfires. These services can help you with insurance claims and other legal problems that may arise from the situation. You can contact the below legal resources in your state:
New South Wales: Contact the Legal Aid NSW Disaster Assistance Hotline on 1800 801 529 or visit legalaid.nsw.gov.au/get-legal-help/legal-help-for-victims-of-natural-disasters
Insurance Council of Australia: The council can assist policy holders determine which insurer they are with and assisting with general inquiries about the claims process. Call 1300 728 228 or visit www.insurancecouncil.com.au
Safe Work NSW: Will replace NSW licences at no cost to those affected by natural disasters. Call 13 10 50 or
Service NSW: Will replace certificates and drivers licences at no cost to those affected by natural disasters.
Call 13 77 88 or visit http://www.service.nsw.gov.au/...
Motor Vehicle Stamp Duty Relief: Motorists whose cars have been written off as a result of a natural disaster may be eligible for a stamp duty refund on their replacement vehicle. Call 1300 139 814 or visit
For businesses affected by natural disasters, Revenue NSW can help with payroll tax. Call
1300 139 815 to find out more.
The Australian Tax Office is offering support to businesses affected by the bushfires and can waive interest charged, set up payment plans with interest free periods and give you more time to pay. Visit the ATO website or call 1800 806 218 to discuss your situation.
Fair Trading: Fair trading can provide information on credit matters to assist people in negotiating repayments with their lenders and fund regional based financial counselling and legal services for people in financial hardship. Provides assistance to businesses regarding fair and ethical practices. Call 13 32 20 or visit www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au
Credit/Mortgage Hardship Lines:
ANZ Bank: 1800 252 845
Commonwealth Bank Hardship: 1300 720 814
National Australia Bank Care: 1800 701 599
St George Bank Assist: 1800 629 795
Summerland Credit Union: 1300 802 222
Newcastle Permanent: 13 19 87
Regional Australia Bank Hardship: 132 067
Bank of Queensland: 1800 079 866
Westpac Assist: 1800 067 497
Southern Cross Credit Union: 1300 360 744
Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC): ASIC is offering assistance to small businesses that are facing disruption or severe hardship due to the bushfires, including reviewing fees or considering payment options. More information available at https://asic.gov.au/for-busine...
Utility Payments Hardship Support: Customers experiencing any form of long term or temporary hardship with management of utility accounts are advised to contact their retail provider to discuss payment options as
soon as possible. Get help paying energy bills -http://www.resourcesandenergy.... and Water Ombudsman: The Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW, provides a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service for all electricity and gas customers in NSW, and some water customers. Call 1800 246 545 or visit https://www.ewon.com.au
These complement the NSW Government’s Get Ready Business - five step guide to preparing for disasters (2018), which helps business owners prepare for disaster in five simple steps.
INDIVIDUAL & COMMUNITY SUPPORT
Mental Health: The following are free services available 24 hours a day, seven days a week:
Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511
Lifeline - 13 11 14
Mensline - 1300 789 978
Kids Helpline - 1800 55 1800
Beyondblue - 1300 22 4636
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 000.
Donations: If you would like to, there are no shortage of organisations to donate to during the nation’s current bushfire crisis. As well as donating to the state-funded rural fire services, there are a number of charities and services that are providing food, accommodation and financial support to communities (and their wildlife) affected by the fires. A general list of organisations can be found in this news article from 7News.
*Information sourced from various sites including NSW Business Chamber of Commerce and Hort Innovation