There is a range of services and organisations currently working on providing support to anyone impacted by the bushfire crises across Australia. Those that are either directly or indirectly impacted by the disaster can often feel a range of emotions or are unsure of support being offered to assist. Unfortunately, many people don’t seek help or support or are unaware of how to go about accessing it whether it is mental health, financial support or assistance with insurance.
AFCA has compiled a list of services and agencies contact details currently in place to support anyone impacted. It is by no means an exhaustive list and focuses on those at a national level. We will continue to update it as additional information becomes available and include this on our website home page.
In the interim, if AFCA can assist in any way please contact us.
Mental Health Contacts and Resources
Lifeline on 13 11 14 – immediate crisis and suicide support 24/7
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 or online – Free professional Counselling 24/7 across Australia
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78 or online- a 24/7 counselling service for men available any time
Children and Young People
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 or online- free, private and confidential counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25.
The Australian and State Governments has extended support for people directly affected by bushfires in disaster declared areas. Information is available here and here.
Individuals should check the information relevant to their location available on the website to understand who is eligible, how to make a claim, and supporting information to make a claim in QLD, NSW, VIC and SA.
Disaster Recovery Allowance (DFA)
Support for people who can show they have lost income as a direct result of the bushfires in the area. It is a short-term payment to help you if a declared disaster directly affects your income.
You can get it for a maximum of 13 weeks. It’s payable from the date you lose income as a direct result of the Bushfires.
Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment
A one-off payment to help you if a declared disaster significantly affects you. It’s not for minor damage or inconvenience.
You need to have been adversely affected by the fire. For example:
you have been seriously injured
you're the immediate family member of an Australian citizen or resident who died
your principal place of residence has been destroyed or must be demolished
the interior of your principal place of residence has sustained major damage
damage from the fire has exposed the interior of your principal place of residence to the elements
your principal place of residence has been declared structurally unsound
the interior of your residence has been affected by sewerage contamination
you're the principal carer of a dependent child who has experienced any of the above.
Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grants Program
The federal government has announced it would provide up to $75,000 in grants for farming (including forestry) businesses in fire-affected regions, with the funding administered by each state government.
Funding will be available through the Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grants Program.
This assistance will be provided through a joint Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangement between states and territories and the Commonwealth Government.
Further details will be announced as soon as state-based delivery arrangements are confirmed.
This initiative forms part of $2 billion commitment the Morrison Government has made to address the impact of the recent bushfires.
For more information on the Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grants Program please contact 1800 900 090.
NSW Government - Bush fire Customer Care program
Bush fire affected families and businesses can now access all available assistance being offered by local councils, the State Government and Federal Government, through the NSW Government’s new Bush fire Customer Care program.
To connect with a Customer Care specialist call Service NSW between 7 am and 7 Pm on 13 77 88. The Contact Centre hours have been extended to include weekends while communities recover.
Information about the Customer Care service is also available in Service NSW Centres, NSW Recovery Centres and Mobile Service Centres in affected regions.
The Australian Tax office has extended a package of tax assistance for people impacted by the recent bushfires in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania as part of the whole-of-government response to the disaster.
This tax assistance currently applies to multiple local government areas in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania. A complete list is available on the ATO Website.
For those taxpayers in affected areas with a tax debt or outstanding obligation, the ATO will not initiate debt recovery action until at least 28 May 2020. Taxpayers can also request payment arrangements for outstanding debts. The ATO will also consider releasing individuals and businesses from income tax and fringe benefits tax debts if they are experiencing serious hardship.
Additionally, the ATO is fast-tracking any refunds that are due to taxpayers in the impacted regions.
The ATO will also be remitting any interest and penalties applied to tax debts since the commencement of the bushfires that have been applied to accounts of individuals and businesses located in impacted regions.
For people who have had documents destroyed by the bushfires, the ATO is able to assist by reissuing documents it has on hand.
Affected taxpayers are also able to vary their income tax instalments to nil without penalties. This also applies if taxpayers end up in a tax payable situation for that quarter once they have lodged their tax return.
The ATO recognises the ongoing effects of this disaster, such as cash flow problems for business owners who have suffered reduced trade. This includes businesses that are not located in the identified regions.
Employers are reminded that they still need to meet their ongoing super guarantee obligations for their employees. Automatic deferrals do not apply to large pay-as-you-go withholders however, large withholders can contact the ATO for assistance with their tax obligations if required.
If you have a question contact the ATO Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218
Additional information and more assistance available to assist with the following is available here
A list of impacted local government areas
Lodgment and payment deferrals
Faster processing of refunds
Damaged or destroyed property
Reconstructing your tax records
Fuel tax credits for individuals, businesses and others
Donations to assist disaster victims
Supporting your wellbeing, and
Other support available.
Insurance Council of Australia (ICA)
The ICAhave set a national hotline 1800 734 621 for anyone with questions about their bushfire insurance, including helping to link them with their insurer if they have lost documents.
Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS)
Nationally, the Rural Financial Counselling Service provides access to a rural financial counsellor when you are you experiencing, or at risk of, financial hardship. It is a free, confidential service. They can give you individual support to meet your needs and help you to make the right decisions for your business.
Those who are eligible for this service include:
forest growers and harvesters
related small business owners.
Rural financial counsellors can help to understand your financial position and the viability of your enterprise. They can help you develop and implement plans to improve your financial situation.
As part of their service, rural financial counsellors can also help you to:
Rural financial counsellors do not give family, emotional or social counselling or financial advice, but can refer you to other professional services, including accountants, agricultural advisors, education, or mental health services.
Telstra is offering relief packages and free access to payphones and Telstra Air Wi-Fi to customers who have been impacted by the fires. For further assistance call 132 203 or visit here.
Australian Red Cross
Australian Red Cross is providing Emergency Grants of $5000 (per household) to eligible people whose primary place of residence has been destroyed or rendered inhabitable as the result of bushfires. Further information can be found here or by calling 1800 RED CROSS
Road Access and Transport
If fires have interfered with your ability to lodge access or accreditation applications please get in contact with NHVR on 1300 MYNHVR (1300 696 487) or email firstname.lastname@example.org so they can provide appropriate support and guidance.
Visit the NHVR website and see their Bushfire Recovery Bulletins for information on OSOM, fatigue provisions and bushfire information related to heavy vehicle transport.