Communities directly affected by fire, including those in the New England, will have Australian Government emergency relief funding increased by $58 million.
Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, said this latest funding package included an extra $40 million for local charities to distribute for food vouchers or used to pay for a broad range of basics including utility bills, clothing and petrol.
“Charities like the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul Society are already carrying out important work in respect of drought in the New England, with support from the Federal Government,” Mr Joyce said.
“This bushfire funding is in addition to that drought support and will be made available as cash payments when necessary to help cover emergency costs for people who work or live in affected areas.”
The funding will be primarily administered by the Salvation Army Property Trust and the St Vincent De Paul Society who collectively provide services across all affected areas who will be working with locally based organisations to ensure access for communities in need.
The hotline numbers are:
• Salvation Army Disasters Assistance team: 1300 662 217
• St Vincent de Paul bushfire assistance: 13 18 12
Under the latest assistance measures, the Government will also provide an extra $400 for each child who has received the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP).
From Monday, this additional payment will begin flowing for new applicants. New applicants will now receive $800 per child and $1000 per adult. Families with children who have already received the AGDRP need not re-apply, their additional $400 payment will follow over the course of next week.
The government is providing an additional $7.9 million for the families of the nearly 20,000 children affected by bushfires and already receiving the AGDRP and this funding is uncapped to meet the needs of more families who may be eligible for the AGDRP.
Local government areas in the New England eligible for the AGDRP include Armidale, Tenterfield, Glen Innes Severn and Walcha.
An additional $10 million will also be invested in financial counselling to deliver services in affected areas including extra support for the National Debt Helpline and increased funding for locally based providers in bush fire affected areas to deliver face-to-face services including through outreach.
The National Debt Helpline, which is often the first point of contact for people experiencing financial difficulties, can be accessed on 1800 007 007 or by visiting www.ndh.org.au