Bush fire Disaster Recovery Assistance

Ethan FrenchFeature, News, Press Release

This fact sheet brings together information on how to claim for Disaster Recovery Assistance at the Commonwealth and State levels. The information is taken from the responsible department and authority’s websites.

The Department of Home Affairs is responsible at the Commonwealth level, and the relevant state authority at a State level. For NSW it is the Rural Assistance Authority.

Commonwealth support (individuals)

Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment

The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP) is a one-off, non-means tested payment of $1,000 per adult and $400 for each child under 16 years of age who have been adversely affected by a major disaster.

For the NSW Bushfires: 31 August 2019 onwards (AGRN: 871):
Claims can be lodged online through the Department of Human Services for a period up to six months or through the Australian Government Information Hotline on 180 22 66.
The fastest way to claim is over the phone.
To claim, either:

  • call 180 22 66 to make your claim
  • print and complete the NSW Bushfires, September 2019 – Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment claim form
  • go to a service centre.

Phone lines are open 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday to Friday, local time.
Call us on 131 202 to talk to us in languages other than English.

To get the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment you must:

  • be an Australian resident or hold an eligible visa
  • be 16 years or older at the time of the fire or getting a social security payment
  • have not already received an Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment for the bushfires in August, September, October, November and December 2019 in NSW.

You also 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 principle 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 principle 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.

For the purposes of this payment:

  • your principal place of residence is the main place where you have a right or license to normally reside. It doesn’t include holiday homes or investment properties
  • you’re a principal carer of a child if the child is your dependent and has not turned 16. The principal carer must have legal responsibility for the day-to-day care, welfare and development of the child.

If you’re a member of a couple, you can both receive this payment. You and your partner will need to complete separate claim forms.

You cannot claim on behalf of a person who has died or their estate.

You may need to provide evidence to show you can get this payment. For example, proof of hospital admission or damage to your principal place of residence. If you’re having trouble getting these documents you should still lodge a claim without delay. You can provide your supporting documents to us within 28 days.

You may also need to confirm your identity. We’ll tell you how to do it during the claim process.

You will need to provide one document showing Proof of Birth or Proof of Arrival in Australia. Alternatively, you can provide any other approved documents that add up to the value of 50 points. For example:

  • driver’s licence (40 points)
  • bank card/statement (40 points)
  • Medicare card (20 points).
Disaster Recovery Allowance

Disaster Recovery Allowance is a short term payment to help if a declared disaster directly affects your income. It is for a maximum of 13 weeks, payable from the date you lose income as a direct result of the NSW Bushfires.

Disaster Recovery Allowance is a taxable payment. You can ask us to withhold voluntary tax deductions from your payments.

The maximum payment rate is the equivalent of Newstart or Youth Allowance, based on your circumstances. Rate of payment will be affected by your income prior to and following the disaster.

If you’re independent, your maximum rate of payment will be determined by your accommodation and personal circumstances.
The fastest way to claim is over the phone.
To claim, either:

  • call 180 22 66 to make your claim
  • print and complete the NSW Bushfires, September 2019 – Disaster Recovery Allowance claim form
  • go to a service centre.

Phone lines are open 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday to Friday, local time.
Call us on 131 202 to talk to us in languages other than English.

To get Disaster Recovery Allowance you must:

  • be 16 years or older at the time of the fire and not a dependent child
  • be an Australian resident or hold an eligible visa
  • get an income by working in an affected Local Government Area or live in an affected Local Government Area
  • lose income as a direct result of the NSW Bushfires in August, September, October, November and December 2019
  • show you will earn less than the relevant income threshold amount in the fortnight following the loss of income.

You must not get the following payments for the same period you’re claiming this payment:

  • an income support payment or pension
  • Parental Leave Pay
  • Dad and Partner Pay
  • ABSTUDY living allowance
  • Farm Household Allowance, or
  • a Service Pension from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

If you’re a member of a couple, you can both receive this payment. You and your partner will need to complete separate claim forms.

If you’re between 16 and 21 years of age, you may be able to get Disaster Recovery Allowance if you’re considered independent. We’ll look at your income, personal circumstances, and whether you’re dependent on anyone, such as an adult who has legal responsibility for your care and provides financial assistance.

You’ll need to provide evidence supporting the claimed loss of income. For example:

  • pay slips from an employer
  • bank statements showing previous bank deposits from an employer
  • a letter from your employer
  • profit and loss statements
  • income tax returns
  • other account documents identifying cash flow.

If you’re having trouble getting these documents you should still lodge a claim without delay. You can provide your supporting documents to us within 28 days.

You may also need to confirm your identity. We’ll tell you how to do it during the claim process.

You will need to provide one document showing Proof of Birth or Proof of Arrival in Australia. Alternatively, you can provide any other approved documents that add up to the value of 50 points. For example:

  • driver’s licence (40 points)
  • bank card/statement (40 points)
  • Medicare card (20 points).

State support (businesses)

Disaster Recovery Grants

Natural disaster recovery grants provide immediate relief to eligible primary producers, small businesses and non-profit organisations, for clean-up and restoration costs in the aftermath of extreme natural disasters.

RAA administers these grants under the joint Commonwealth and NSW government funded Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) 2018.

Disaster recovery grants of up to $15,000 are available to primary producers, small businesses and not-for-profit organisations in Local Government Areas (LGA’s) affected by the NSW bushfires that have occurred from 31 August 2019.

To find out if you are eligible view the LGAs affected and the Guidelines.

Disaster Relief Loans

Natural disaster relief loans are available to declared Local Government Areas (LGA’s). Applications for assistance must be lodged by the ‘Application close’ date outlined in Declared natural disasters.

Loans are available for primary producers, small businesses, sporting and recreation clubs, and non-profit organisations.

Primary producers

Primary producers directly affected by a declared natural disaster who are in urgent and genuine need of assistance, may be eligible for low interest loans of up to $130,000.

This low interest rate loan can help a farm business to:

  • continue to operate your farm businesses for the next twelve months or until the next income is received
  • replace and repair damage caused to the property and associated improvements not covered by insurance.

Application forms are available online.

Small businesses

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.

This low interest rate loan can help a small business:

return to its normal level of trading or until the next major income is received within 12 months from the date of disaster
replace and repair damage caused to your small business and associated improvements not covered by insurance.

Applications forms are available online.

Sporting and recreation clubs

Natural disaster financial assistance is available to help sporting and recreation clubs directly affected by a declared natural disaster including flood, fire or storm damage.

The low interest rate loan of up to $10,000 can help meet the costs of restoring essential club facilities, equipment or other assets that have been damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster.

Application forms are available online.

Non-profit organisations

Natural disaster relief loans assist voluntary non-profit organisations directly affected by a declared natural disaster including flood, fire or storm damage.

Low interest rate loans up to $25,000 are available:

  • for the restoration of essential facilities that have been damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster
  • and may also be directed towards temporary storage or leasing of alternate premises

Application forms are available online.

Natural Disaster Transport Subsidy

A natural disaster assistance transport subsidy is available to eligible farmers who are affected by a declared natural disaster event. This subsidy pays for the cost of transporting:

  • fodder and/or water to an affected property
  • stock to sale or slaughter
  • stock to/from agistment.

Application forms are available online.