Assistance for those impacted by Australian bushfires
Australia is experiencing some of the worst bushfires in its history. To assist those affected we have compiled an overview of the Australian and state government initiatives that are available to those impacted.
Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP): The AGDRP is a one-off disaster recovery payment of $1,000 per adult and $400 per child, to support those who have been affected by the bushfires during August 2019 through to January 2020.
To be eligible for the payment the individual must:
- reside within one of the affected local Government Areas;
- be 16 years of age or older; and
- have not already received an Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment for the bushfires in August, September, October, November, December 2019 and January 2020.
Click here to view your relevant state based AGDRP requirements, the list of local Government areas eligible for the payment and how to lodge your claim.
Disaster Recovery Allowance: The Australian Government is offering a short-term disaster recovery allowance payment to help anyone who loses income as a direct result of the bushfires from August 2019 through to January 2020. Eligible applicants will receive a maximum 13 weeks allowance which is also taxable.
To be eligible for the payment the individual 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 bushfires in August, September, October, November, December 2019 and January 2020; and
- show you will earn less than the relevant income threshold amount in the fortnight following the loss of income.
Click here to view your relevant state-based Disaster Recovery Allowance requirements, the list of local Government areas eligible for the payment and how to lodge your claim.
Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) : The joint Australian, state and territory government DRFA provides a range of financial assistance to the natural disaster-declared areas in each state or territory. Assistance is available for eligible local government areas impacted by bushfires including:
- Personal hardship and distress assistance;
- Counter disaster operations;
- Restoration of essential public assets;
- Concessional interest rate loans for small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations;
- Freight subsidies; and
- Grants to non-profit organisations.
To find out if you are located in a disaster-declared area and are eligible for financial assistance visit https://www.disasterassist.gov.au/Pages/getting-help.aspx
A Community Recovery Fund (CRF) has been activated to further assist bushfire affected communities. Recovery grants of up to $15,000 are available for eligible primary producers, small businesses and non-profit organisations as well as targeting funding for community projects and mental health support.
To apply for a recovery grant, contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit www.raa.nsw.gov.au .
Tax related relief for residents affected by bushfires:
Australian Taxation Office (ATO): The ATO is offering support for those located within the postcodes impacted by the bushfires. The ATO will automatically grant deferrals for lodgments and payments due, assist with re-issuing any tax documents that have been lost or destroyed as a result of the bushfires and fast track any refunds owed to name a few. For the full list of support offered and to find out if you are eligible, visit the ATO's website: https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Dealing-with-disasters/In-detail/Specific-disasters/Bushfires-2019-20/
State Revenue Offices: The State Revenue offices of Victoria and New South Wales are offering relief in the areas of land tax, stamp duty, payroll tax and motor vehicle, depending on your location. Please visit your local State Revenue Office website for further details on which services are offered:
- Victoria: https://www.sro.vic.gov.au/index.php/bushfireresponse
- New South Wales: https://www.revenue.nsw.gov.au/news-media-releases/help-for-bushfire-affected-customers
Bushfire Recovery Access Program : Free counselling and additional mental health support is now available for individuals, families and emergency services workers affected by the bushfires. For full details regarding this initiative, the Better Access Bushfire Recovery Initiative, and the Better Access Bushfire Recovery Telehealth initiative, please visit the Human Services website here .
NSW Government Support
The NSW Government has already committed $231 million towards disaster assistance and will also provide over $1 billion during the next two years to repair and rebuild vital infrastructure affected by the bushfires. In addition, the NSW Government is offering the following services:
Free legal assistance : Legal Aid NSW has partnered with community legal centres, the Law Society of NSW and the NSW Bar Association to offer free legal assistance relating to insurance claims, tenancy issues, financial hardship, social security entitlements and employment issues. In addition, over 200 lawyers and law firms are also offering pro-bono services. To access these free services, individuals, households and businesses can call the Legal Aid helpline on 1800 801 529.
The Bushfire Housing Assistance Service : This service will support residents who are temporarily or permanently displaced during the bushfires by providing access to emergency accommodation, private rental bonds and advance rent payments. People impacted by the bushfires can access the service by calling the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line (DWAL) on 1800 018 444, or by contacting or visiting a local Department of Communities and Justice Housing office.
Primary producers and animal carers : Primary producers can report bush-fire related stock and fodder losses, damage to crops, pastures, fencing and other farm infrastructure damage, as well as request animal assessment, emergency fodder and water for stock, by calling the Agricultural and Animal Services Hotline on 1800 814 647. For assistance regarding the transport of donated fodder contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593.
Financial support for NSW volunteer firefighters: Financial support payments are available to NSW volunteer firefighters who have volunteered as part of an operational response to bushfires for more than 10 days since 1 July 2019. These payments will provide for lost income of up to $300 per day, up to a total of up to $6,000 per person. These payments are tax free and will not be means-tested.
We can help
At Mazars, we care about the wellbeing of our clients and have a reputation for providing assistance during the tough times of Australia’s natural disasters. If your business has been impacted by the bushfires and you are unsure of your employment obligations, please contact our HR and IR consulting division who can provide an initial consultation free of charge to assist during this difficult time.
For assistance in considering your eligibility and support in preparing and lodging applications for these government programs, please contact your usual Mazars advisor or our specialist in this area.
Owen Dingle - Application support
Cheryl-Anne Laird - HR & IR support
+61 7 3218 3900
+61 3 9252 0800
+61 2 9922 1166
Date Published: 16 January 2020
Please note that this publication is intended to provide a general summary and should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal advice.