Disaster Assistance For Victorian Communities Following Recent Bushfires

The Minister for Justice Michael Keenan and the Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Bushfire Response Kim Wells today announced that disaster assistance was now available to communities affected by the weekend’s bushfires in Victoria.

“The Commonwealth and Victorian Governments have moved quickly to activate financial assistance including personal hardship assistance for families, and for councils to conduct emergency relief operations, clean-up activities, and to begin restoring or rebuilding essential public assets damaged by the fires,” Mr Keenan said.

The support is provided under the jointly-funded Commonwealth-Victorian Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.

The emergency financial assistance is available for eligible residents in bushfire-affected local government areas in outer Melbourne, Central and Northern and North-East Victoria, and Gippsland.

Under Victoria’s Personal Hardship Assistance Program, the following financial assistance is available to eligible households:

• Emergency relief assistance, which provides payments of up to $500 per adult and $250 per child up to a maximum of $1,250 per    household to cover emergency accommodation, food, clothing, or personal items, and personal and financial counselling; and

• Emergency re-establishment assistance, which provides up to $31,050 per household for clean-up, emergency accommodation, repairs, rebuilding and replacing some damaged contents. It is also available to eligible Victorians in extreme hardship whose homes have become uninhabitable as a result of the fires.

“People experiencing personal hardship and distress should contact their local council in the first instance, or call the Victorian Emergency Recovery Information Line on 1300 799 232 to enquire about what assistance they may be eligible for,” Mr Wells said.

“They could also download further information from the Emergency Relief and Recovery Victoria website, at www.recovery.vic.gov.au.”

Minister Wells said that authorities were continuing to assess the damage caused by the weekend’s bushfires, and that if assistance was required in other communities, it would be extended to those locations.

“Many fires continue to burn today and I urge people to ensure they are aware of their surroundings and monitor more than one form of emergency advice.

“Victorians should be mindful of the ongoing bushfire risk and make appropriate preparations for their families, homes and businesses,” Mr Wells said.

For further information contact the Victorian Emergency Recovery Information Line on 1300 799 232 or visit the Australian Government’s Disaster Assist website at www.disasterassist.gov.au

Media contact:
Emily Broadbent 0400 390 008 (Minister Keenan’s office)
Jessica Jackson 0437 422 048 (Minister Well’s office)