Bush Fire Support

bushfire relief OG

Catastrophic bushfires have been burning across large parts of Australia since November 2019. The effects of these bushfires have been felt across NSW and across all seven of our LGAs in the Southern Inland region. 

Below is some information for those wanting to lend a hand to those in bush fire affected areas, as well as emergency information and financial assistance available to volunteer firefighters, individuals, small business, non-profit organisations, sporting and recreation clubs and primary producers. 

How Can you Help

Bushfire Assistance - How Can You Help

The best way that you can help is with financial donations. This allows the relevant organisations to direct your donation to where it is needed most.

Australian Red Cross - Disaster Relief and Recovery
The Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery provides support for people at evacuation centres and recovery hubs, emergency assistance (including cash grants to people who have lost homes in these bushfires), longer-term recovery programs in disaster-affected communities, funds for essential costs like transport, office space, finance and IT systems, psychological first aid to reduce trauma, support to volunteers and covers their expenses, assistance for families and communities to prepare for disasters. 
Salvation Army - Disaster Appeal
The Salvation Army disaster appeal provides funds for financial assistance, material assistance, housing support, mental health support, holistic case work, financial counselling, respite care and breaks, community capacity building, information, referrals and advice. 
St Vincent de Paul Society - Bushfire Appeal (NSW)
The St Vincent de Paul Society bushfire appeal provides funds for food, clothing, essential items and grocery vouchers, unexpected bills as people work through the recovery process, referrals onto a range of other organisations providing crisis accommodation and specialised services, emotional support and practical assistance.

NSW Rural Fire Service Brigades and Donations Fund
Donations made to the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS), or your local Rural Fire Brigade, directly benefit volunteer firefighters and are always gratefully received. Many local Rural Fire Brigades conduct fundraising through doorknocks, letterbox drops, or at community functions. These proceeds directly assist brigades in conducting their community activities.
Country Women’s Association - Disaster Relief Fund
CWA of NSW's Disaster Relief Fund is used to assist Australians who have been adversely affected by a disaster. CWA of NSW can use these funds to assist those in need due to fires, floods, drought or other circumstances. 

Financial Assistance

Bushfire Assistance - Financial Assistance


Support for small businesses, primary producers and not-for-profits

Recovery funding for bush fire affected communities in Southern NSW
Disaster recovery grants of up to $15,000 are now available to primary producers, small businesses and not-for-profit organisations in LGAs affected by the NSW bushfires that have occurred from 31 August 2019. Must be in an eligible LGA. As of 06/01/2020 this includes:
Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, Queanbeyan-Palerang, Shoalhaven, Snowy Monaro, Snowy Valleys and Mid-Western, Wingecarribee, Blue Mountains, Lithgow, Hawkesbury, Cessnock, Central Coast, Singleton, Armidale, Ballina, Bellingen, Byron, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Glen Innes Severn, Inverell, Kempsey, Kyogle, Lismore, Mid-Coast,
Nambucca, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Richmond Valley, Tenterfield, Tweed and Walcha.
See guidelines in the link for further eligibility requirements

Special Disaster Grant (Bushfires)

Disaster recovery grants of up to $75,000 are now available to primary producers in LGAs affected by the NSW bushfires that have occured from 31 August 2019.

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.
Donated Fodder Transport Subsidy
A subsidy is available for the cost of transporting donated fodder organised by community groups or other
organisations within NSW to a central location for distribution to properties affected by drought and other emergencies. This subsidy will pay for 100% of the costs of transporting donated fodder from within NSW up to a
maximum of $5 per kilometre (plus GST) to a maximum eligible distance of 1,500 kilometres.

Disaster Relief Loans

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.

Small Business
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.

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 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.

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. This low interest rate loan can help: meet the costs of restoring essential club facilities, equipment or other assets that have been damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster.

Agriculture and Animal Services Hotline 1800 814 647
In a bush fire emergency, NSW Department of Primary Industries works with Local Land Services (LLS) to support the NSW Rural Fire Service to: Assist primary producers, animal holding establishments and the community to be prepared for bushfires, Coordinate rescue, evacuation and emergency care for animals, Coordinate assessment, humane destruction and disposal of affected animals, Support recovery arrangements including providing impact damage assessments and contributing to recovery centres and committees.

Australian Taxation Office 

The Australian Taxation Office is granting two month lodgment and payment deferrals businesses impacted by the recent catastrophic bushfires in New South Wales. Click here to find out more. 

Rural businesses Support

Rural Business Support (RBS), will be able to assist eligible businesses to develop and implement plans to recover.

They can provide support with:

  • Preparing for talks with insurance companies, banks and lenders
  • Preparing cash flow forecasts to meet financial obligations
  • Accessing other professional services
  • Developing and implementing plans to return to ‘normal’ operations

Disaster Recovery Toolkit

The Entrepreneurs’ Programme has assisted CPA Australia with a Disaster Recovery Toolkit. This resource provides a series of templates and checklists to provide a considered approach to immediate actions, recovery plans and long term recovery for business owners.

Help put money back into affected towns

@spendwiththem is an initiative created by Turia Pitt and Gracie McBride. Their Instagram page hopes to promote affected businesses and allow for money to be placed directly in the pockets of the people and communities who need it the most.


Support for Indigenous  Corporations

The Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) has established an emergency response grant for any Indigenous corporation whose property has been directly affected by the recent bushfires.

A grant of up to $20,000 will be available to assist Indigenous corporations to immediately secure and clean up damaged properties.

The ILSC will also make available a grant to assist Indigenous land management groups and contractors assisting the vital recovery efforts with much needed equipment.

Indigenous corporations should contact the ILSC on 1800 818 490 or EDOAdmin@ilcorp.gov.au, or visit their bushfire response web page. ILSC staff will be available to take enquiries seven days a week, from 9am to 8pm (AEDT).


Support for individuals and families  

NSW Government Disaster Relief Grants
NSW Government Disaster Relief Grants are available for eligible individuals and families whose homes and essential household contents have been damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster. To be eligible for this grant you must: be a low-income earner and meet an income assets test, demonstrate that the affected home is your principal place of residence, not be covered by insurance, demonstrate that the damage was caused by the disaster, lodge the
application within four months of the disaster occurring.
Contact the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444.

Australian Government disaster recovery assistance hotline: 180 2266

Disaster Recovery Allowance
Disaster Recovery Allowance is a short-term payment to help you if a declared disaster directly affects your income.
You can get it for a maximum of 13 weeks. It’s payable from the date you lose income as a direct result of the disaster. Disaster Recovery Allowance is a taxable payment. You can ask us to withhold voluntary tax deductions from your payments. If you get Disaster Recovery Allowance you might be able to access Beneficiary Tax Offset. This reduces the amount of tax you may have to pay. You’ll need to contact the Australian Taxation Office to find out more about this.
Disaster Recovery Payment
The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment is a one-off payment to help you if a declared disaster significantly affects you. For example: you have been seriously injured, you're the immediate family member of an Australian citizen or resident who died, your principal 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 principal 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.

Red Cross Emergency Grants
Emergency grants of up to $10,000 per household are open across Australia to people whose primary place of residence has been destroyed or rendered uninhabitable as the result of bushfires. Grants will be open until 30 April 2020. 

Australian Taxation Office 

The Australian Taxation Office is granting two month lodgment and payment deferrals to taxpayers impacted by the recent catastrophic bushfires in New South Wales. Click here to find out more. 

Access social housing assistance and support


Documentation Recovery

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), are offering to replace Australian passports for those whose passports were lost or damaged during the bush fires.

 No application form is required, only basic information to confirm passport holders’ identity and that they were in an affected area.

Affected passport holders should call the Australian Passport Information Service (APIS) on 131 232.


Support for volunteer firefighters

Financial support for NSW volunteer firefighters
Tax free non-means tested payment of up to $300 per day (total $6000) for volunteer firefighters from a recognised firefighting organisation in NSW who are self-employed or employed by small and medium businesses and have lost income. Must have been volunteering as part of an operational response to bushfires for more than 10 days since 1 July 2019. This can include reasonable travel and recovery time but does not include training or participating in non-emergency operations (for example, hazard reduction burns).


Support from the Financial Services sector

On Friday the 3rd of January The Australian Bankers Association announced that Australia's four major banks and a host of others will on request, defer scheduled loan repayments and waive some fees and charges, including break costs on early redemption of farm management deposits.

Most banks will also defer interest payments on a case-by-case basis and offer addition finance to help cover cash flow shortages and increase emergency credit card limits. 

To find out more about what each bank is offering for bush fire victims please see the below options:

Commonwealth Bank 

Commonwealth Bank are also offering grants of up to $50,000 to assist the longer term recovery of organisations directly affected by the bushfires. 

National Australian Bank




Macquarie Bank



Bank of Queensland

ME Bank


Support from the Telecommunications sector

Telecommunications companies are providing a range of support options for their clients, including unlimited access to emergency service websites for customers in bushfire-affected areas to avoid users going over their data limits and covering the costs of volunteer firefighters’ mobile services for December and January.




Mental Health Support

The following are free services available 24 hours a day, seven days a week:

  • Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • Mensline – 1300 789 978
  • Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
  • Beyondblue – 1300 22 4636
  • Suicide Call-Back Service - 1300 659 467

Immediate distress and trauma support 

Individuals can contact Services Australia on 180 22 66 or their local Primary Health Network (PHN) to locate and access up to 10 free counselling sessions.

Mental Health Support through Medicare

Anyone who has been impacted by bushfires will be eligible to receive Medicare rebates for up to 10 psychological therapy sessions provided by GPs, psychologists, and other eligible mental health professionals. These 10 sessions will be in addition to the 10 psychological therapy sessions currently available under Medicare.

Individuals should contact their GP or eligible mental health professional to access these services (individuals do not need a GP referral or mental health treatment plan). GPs or other health professionals seeking advice should visit www.humanservices.gov.au or call 132 150.


Local headspace services can be found here. For young people unable to attend a headspace centre, eheadspace is available online at www.headspace.org.au or via telephone at 1800 650 890.


Click here to access frequency asked questions regarding mental health support for Australians affected by the 2019-20 bush fires


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Email admin@rdasi.org.au 

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RDA Southern Inland
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