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Politics

  • Written by Scott Morrison

The Australian Government will deliver new income assistance to people affected by the bushfires in Queensland and New South Wales.

 

We have activated the Disaster Recovery Allowance (DRA) to ensure assistance is directed to those who need it most.

 

The devastation we have seen on the ground in South East Queensland today was heartbreaking and we want to be there to help the communities rebuild. There are hundreds of these stories of survival across NSW and Queensland in the face of tough odds, and hope for the future.

Multiple bushfires continue to burn across large parts of southern Queensland and northern NSW.

 

These fires have had significant impacts on many communities and businesses, both direct and indirect, and are impacting people’s livelihoods and incomes.

 

Our assistance is designed to help those who have lost their income and need additional support to get back on their feet.

 

The DRA provides a short-term support payment to assist those whose income has been affected as a direct result of the bushfires.

 

People eligible for DRA can access income assistance for up to 13 weeks, equivalent to the maximum rate of Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance.

 

In Queensland, the DRA has been activated in the local government areas of Noosa, Scenic Rim, Southern Downs and Sunshine Coast.

 

In New South Wales, the DRA has been activated in the local government areas of Armidale, Bellingen, Clarence Valley, Glen Innes, Inverell, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha.

 

Claims for DRA can be made through the Australian Government Department of Human Services (DHS) from Monday 16 September 2019.

 

Customers can call DHS on 180 22 66, visit www.humanservices.gov.au or visit a DHS Service Centre.

 

Equivalent financial assistance will also be available to eligible New Zealand citizens (‘non-protected’ Special Category Visa, subclass 444 holders) affected by the bushfires.

 

The Australian Government assistance being announced today is over and above the support already being provided for under the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

 

We stand ready to provide further support if it is requested.

 

We are monitoring the impacts of the bushfires closely and will ensure bushfire affected communities receive the support they need, including:

·         personal hardship and distress assistance for individuals and families;

o   Includes immediate emergency assistance, grants for essential household contents and grants for essential structural repairs to homes.

o   The amounts granted depend on the assessed needs of the affected individuals/households.

·         support for affected local councils and state agencies to help with operational response costs and restoring damaged essential public assets;

o    Includes funding for counter disaster operations (e.g. firefighting operations) and to repair damaged assets.

o   The amount available is uncapped.

·         concessional interest rate loans for small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations;

o   Includes loans of up to $130,000 at a fixed concessional interest rate for small businesses and primary producers and up to $25,000 for non-profit organisations.

·         freight subsidies for primary producers, and

o   Includes subsidies up to $15,000 per annum.

·         grants to eligible non-profit organisations.

o   Includes grants of up to $2,000.

 

This assistance is administered by the NSW Government.

 

Anyone in need of assistance should contact the NSW Government Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444.

 

Southern Queensland Bushfires

Disaster recovery assistance is being provided under the jointly funded Commonwealth-state DRFA.

 

DRFA assistance is available in the local government areas of Noosa, Scenic Rim, Southern Downs and Sunshine Coast.

 

A range of assistance is available, including:

·         Personal hardship and distress assistance for individuals and families; and

·         Emergency Hardship Assistance Grant – provides assistance as a contribution to support people directly impacted by an eligible disaster to meet their immediate essential needs for food, clothing, medical supplies or temporary accommodation. $180 per individual and up to $900 for families of five or more.

·         Essential Services Hardship Assistance – provides assistance for people directly impacted by an eligible disaster to meet their immediate needs where they have experienced the loss of one or more essential services for more than five days. $150 for individuals and up to $750 for families of five or more.

·         Essential Household Contents Grant – provides a contribution towards replacing or repairing essential household contents, such as beds, linen and whitegoods that have been lost or damaged by an eligible disaster. $1,765 per individual or $5,300 for couples or families. Assistance is subject to means testing.

·         Structural Assistance Grant – provides a contribution towards repairs or replacement of a dwelling damaged by an eligible disaster, to return it to a safe, habitable and secure condition. $10,995 for single adults or $14,685 for couples or families. Assistance is subject to means testing.

·         Essential Services Safety and Reconnection Scheme – To assist residents with the inspection and reconnection of essential services that have been damaged by an eligible disaster. The scheme provides financial assistance to individuals and families as a contribution towards safety inspections of and repairs to residential essential services (i.e. electricity, gas, water and sewerage) damaged by an eligible disaster. Up to $5,000 per household. Assistance is subject to means testing.

·         Support for affected local councils and state agencies to help with operational response costs (CATEGORY B).

·         Counter Disaster Operations – To assist local governments and state agencies to undertake activities that alleviate personal hardship and distress, address the immediate needs of individuals and protect the general public, immediately prior to, during or immediately after an eligible disaster.  The amount available is not capped.

 

In addition, assistance for the restoration of damaged essential public assets has been made available in Scenic Rim (CATEGORY B).

 

This assistance is administered by the Queensland Government.

 

Anyone in need of assistance should contact the Queensland Government Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349.

 

Other Australian Government assistance:

·         Firebombing aircraft have been in action against these fires. We are proud that our national aerial firefighting arrangements are ensuring the best possible aerial firefighting equipment is available to protect Australians.

·         The Australian Government annually invests around $14.8 million in aerial firefighting.

 

With the early start to this bushfire season, it is important that all members of the community are well prepared and have a plan.

 

More information on Australian Government disaster assistance is available at www.disasterassist.gov.au

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