Resources for people affected by Bushfire
If you have been affected by the bushfires in Victoria there are resources and services that can support you through difficult times. The following list covers many of the major support options available to you.
Face to face financial counselling (through Anglicare)
Dedicated Financial Counsellors are available to support you with outreach services at the community hubs established by the government in the affected regions. To find out more you can phone or email by region:
Gippsland 1800 286 260 – [email protected]
North East 1800 244 323 – [email protected]
Case Worker support
You can access a case support worker by contacting their local council, visiting one of the recovery centres or by calling 1800 560 760.
Additional support payments from Centrelink are scheduled until the end of February – please refer to Services Australia for updates.
Emergency Relief Assistance Payment
Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment
The payment is available at up to $1000 per adult and $400 per child. Please refer to Human Services for details.
Disaster Recovery Allowance
Up to 13 weeks of income support (equivalent to Newstart or Youth Allowance) is available for those who have lost income as a direct result of the bushfires. Please refer to Human Services for details.
Emergency Re-establishment Payments
Emergency re-establishment assistance is available if your principal place of residence (your home) is uninhabitable for more than seven days because of an emergency. It provides up to $42,250 per eligible household experiencing financial hardship, who have been affected by fire at their primary place of residence.
The grants will be available for clean-up, emergency accommodation, repairs, rebuilding (a principal place of residence), and replacing some damaged contents.
Re-establishment assistance is available to individuals or families who do not have building (home) insurance or contents insurance.
Red Cross Emergency Grant
A grant of $5,000 is available per household. Your primary place of residence is the place you reside in on a permanent basis, whether as an owner/occupier or a tenant.
Grants will be open until 30 April 2020.
Good Shepherd has developed a No Interest Loans (NILS) Bushfire Relief Policy to support people in bushfire-affected areas.
Assistance from Banks and financial institutions
NAB customers who have lost homes this bushfire season can immediately access $2,000 grants to help cover costs such as temporary accommodation, food and clothing.
An emergency assistance package is available for Commonwealth Bank customers affected by bushfires around Australia.
For Westpac mortgage customers who have lost their principal place of residence due to the bushfires, Westpac will pay the customer’s mortgage repayments for one year (up to $1,200 per month).
Westpac can also provide up to $2,000 in emergency cash grants for customers whose properties have been destroyed or damaged by the bushfires.
Westpac Banking Group (Bank of Melbourne, St George) customers
Westpac Group has announced that its Disaster Relief Package is available to customers who are facing financial hardship following severe bushfires in NSW and Victoria. The Package is also available to Bank of Melbourne and St.George customers who are impacted by the fires.
Bendigo Bank customers
Bendigo Bank has announced a Bushfire assistance package.
Affected Bendigo Bank customers are advised to speak with their local Branch Manager, Business Banking Manager or contact our Mortgage Help Centre on 1300 652 146 regarding financial hardship and applying for assistance.
Australian Financial Complaints Authority The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has set up a dedicated online bushfire support hub with information about financial recovery.
Latitude Financial has set up a dedicated assistance line for customers affected by the bushfires: 1300 858 151
Contact the Australian Banking Association for matters relating to hardship policies offered by different banks.
Phone and internet
Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. Contact these service providers on below numbers to discuss assistance available:-
Telstra, call 13 22 03
Optus, call 1300 301 671
Vodafone, call 1300 650 410
Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
If you are in a bushfire or flood affected area and have attempted to resolve your phone or internet issue with your provider, contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) on our Natural Disasters phone line, 03 8600 8308, or visit the website www.tio.com.au to lodge a complaint.
A temporary hold has been placed on fines and warrant enforcement activities in affected areas in the wake of this disaster. This includes temporarily ceasing all Sheriff’s activities within the affected areas, and a hold on issuing a range of fines related notices from state government agencies and Fines Victoria.
Fines Victoria staff will consider individual circumstances and discuss the options available.
To contact Fines Victoria, please call 9200 8222 or 1300 369 819 (regional callers) between 8am and 6pm weekdays (except public holidays), or visit www.fines.vic.gov.au
Those having trouble with their insurance companies can contact the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) on 1800 734 621 or the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) on 1800 931 678. The ICA has set up a page for people affected by the Bushfire.
You can call Disaster Legal Help Victoria on 1800 113 432 to get free information about your legal issues and options for ongoing assistance.
Landfill levy waiver
A landfill levy waiver will be provided to allow people to dispose of their bushfire waste without paying the landfill levy. Bushfire waste includes the debris from homes, businesses, sheds, stock, fencing and equipment that have been damaged. The levy waiver will also make it easier for people to dispose of dead livestock. Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) will work with landfill operators and councils in fire-affected areas to apply for the exemption. If residents or business owners have any questions or concerns about bushfire waste clean up and disposal they can contact EPA for further information.
2020 Clean-up Program
The Victoria and Commonwealth Governments will jointly provide up to $75 million for the program to demolish, remove and safely dispose of all buildings destroyed or damaged beyond repair. Insured and uninsured property owners won’t be required to contribute to the cost of the program. The voluntary program is open to all affected property owners.
The removal of fencing, trees and vehicles may also be included where it is necessary for the safe clean-up of buildings.
Property owners are encouraged to register for the 2020 Clean-Up Program or by phoning 1800 560 760.
Replacement ID documents
If bushfire has destroyed your identity documents, Births, Deaths and Marriages can replace your (Victorian) birth certificate for free. Please call 1300 369 367 for assistance.
If you’ve been affected by the fires, VicRoads will provide assistance to help with your registration and licensing, go to Bushfire relief assistance for more information. If you have an urgent enquiry please call 13 11 71.
If your passport has been lost or damaged in bushfires, you may be eligible for a free replacement. Call the Australian Passport Office on 131 232 for more information.
The Prime Minister in January announced that job seekers in fire affected regions would not have mutual obligation requirements for at least two months.
The National Social Security Rights Network (NSSRN) has developed a guide to help people navigate Centrelink payments if they have been affected by bushfires.
For people impacted by the bushfires, the ATO will automatically grant deferrals for lodgements and payments due. You, or your agent, don’t need to apply for these deferrals.
If you have been affected by this disaster but your postcode is not currently in the identified impacted postcodes list, you can phone the ATO’s Emergency Support Infoline on for help 1800 806 218.
If you are having trouble paying your gas, electricity or water bill, contact your retailer to access hardship assistance.