Help is available to families and individuals recovering from the 2019-20 bushfires.
We know people may be under pressure from single or multiple events, including bushfires, flood and drought.
Assistance with tax
Taxpayers in bushfire-affected areas have additional time to lodge and pay business activity statements and income tax returns.
Solutions may vary based on your individual circumstances.
For more information, visit the ATO's dedicated Bushfires 2019–20 webpage.
Call the ATO on 1800 806 218.
Advance payments for income support or Family Tax Benefit Part A
If you get an income support payment or Family Tax Benefit Part A, you may be eligible for an advance payment.
Talk to staff about an advance payment at a service centre.
Support during financial hardship
If you are experiencing financial hardship, free financial counselling support is available.
- The Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) helps people to improve their financial situation in response to national disasters and drought. Check your nearest RFSC office by calling 1800 686 175.
- The Small Business Financial Support Line 1800 413 828 is staffed by specialist financial counsellors. They can give advice on the help available in bushfire affected areas
- Call the free National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 (Monday to Friday 9:30am-4:30pm)
Visit Money Smart for other financial help available to support you after a bushfire.
Debt recovery support
The Australian Government has paused debt and compliance activities for people living in Local Government Areas (LGAs) affected by the 2019-20 bushfires. This pause is in place in all LGAs where a major disaster has been declared.
If you are suffering hardship, call the Centrelink Debt Recovery Line on 1800 076 072.
Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements
Recovery support is available for communities, farmers (including fishers and foresters) and small businesses under Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements. This includes:
- financial support for emergency assistance and damage to your home
- recovery grants and concessional interest rate loans for small businesses and primary producers
Visit your state/territory service agency for information on support that is available.
- In the Australian Capital Territory, visit the ACT Emergency Services Agency website or call (02) 6205 2927
- In New South Wales, visit the Resilience NSW website, or call 1800 018 444
- In the Northern Territory, visit the Department of Treasury and Finance website
- In Queensland, visit the Queensland reconstruction authority website
- In Tasmania visit the Tasmanian Government Department of Premier and Cabinet website
- In Victoria visit the Emergency Management Victoria website or call 03 8685 1355
- In Western Australia visit the Department of fire and emergency services website or call +61 8 9395 9341
You can also view a range of support for small businesses and primary producers below.
Support for Cashless Debit Card participants
Cashless Debit Card participants impacted by bushfires can call the hotline to find out about support available.
Call the Cashless Debit Card hotline on 1800 252 604 (Monday to Friday 9am-6pm AEDT).
A range of bushfire recovery support is available through charities, not-for-profit and volunteer organisation.
Visit the Department of Social Service’s Grants Service Directory for a full list of Commonwealth-funded emergency relief services to find services in your region.
To receive emergency relief, you can call:
- Salvation Army Disasters Assistance team on 1300 662 217
- Anglicare on 1300 111 278
- St Vincent de Paul bushfire assistance team on 13 18 12
BlazeAid is a volunteer-based organisation that works with families and individuals in rural Australia after natural disasters such as fires and flood.
Access to the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and Back to School Support
The claiming period for the 2019-20 bushfires has now closed.
The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment is a one-off payment if:
- you are injured
- you lose a member of your immediately family
- your home is badly damaged
- your home is destroyed
- valuable possessions you own have been damaged by the fire.
In addition, Back to School Support is provided to all families with children under 16 to assist with the return to school. You will automatically receive this support if you are eligible for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment.
Call Services Australia to discuss your situation on 180 22 66.
Access to the Disaster Recovery Allowance
The claiming period for the 2019-20 bushfires has now closed.
If you have lost income as a direct result of the bushfires, you may be eligible for the Disaster Recovery Allowance.
The Disaster Recovery Allowance is an income support payment for up to 13 weeks. This is paid at the same maximum rate as Newstart or Youth Allowance.
Please call Services Australia to discuss your situation on 180 22 66
Registrations in New South Wales remain open. Registrations in Victoria and South Australia have closed.
The Australian Government is working with the New South Wales, Victorian, and South Australian Governments to share the cost of bushfire debris clean-up from the 2019-20 bushfires.
This includes of residential and commercial properties at no cost to owners.
There is no cost to property owners for this clean-up initiative.
For more information:
The HomeBuilder scheme provides eligible owner-occupiers (including first home buyers) with a grant of $25,000 or $15,000. This includes building a new home or substantially renovating a damaged home.
As part of being considered eligible, applicants must sign their building contract, lodge their HomeBuilder application and supporting documentation, and commence building within set timeframes:
- $25,000 HomeBuilder Grant: applicants must have signed their building contract between 4 June 2020 and 31 December 2020.
- $15,000 HomeBuilder Grant: applicants must sign their building contract between 1 January 2021 and 31 March 2021.
Construction must commence within six months of the building contract being signed.
This grant is a stimulus policy, supporting construction industry workers through COVID-19 impacts. In doing so, it is also helping many Australians to build, rebuild, or extend their homes.
We are working with Commonwealth and State partners as HomeBuilder is implemented to help people in bushfire-affected communities assess eligibility for Homebuilder.
How is this relevant for me?
If the bushfires damaged or destroyed your home, the Homebuilder grant may be useful to you.
Homebuilder may cover those knocking down or rebuilding a home. This includes homes destroyed in the 2019-20 bushfires. This applies under the rules for substantial renovations rather than new builds.
The value of the house and land needs to be less than $1.5 million combined before the renovation (more generous than the $750,000 limit for people building new homes).
Visit the Homebuilder page on Treasury’s website for full details and eligibility regarding the Homebuilder scheme.
Call and talk to your relevant state disaster authority about your circumstances:
• In New South Wales Request a call with a Bushfire Customer Specialist or visit the Bushfire Customer Care Service page.
• In Queensland call 1800 173 349 or visit Queensland Government's Recovery after Disaster page
• In South Australia call 1800 302 or visit the Recovery South Australia website
• In Victoria call 13 22 15 or visit the Business Victoria Bushfire Recovery Assistance page
Higher education support
Current students and university applicants, who have been affected by the 2019-20 bushfires, may be able to get help from their education provider or Study Assist.
You can find contact details on the Study Assist website. Students may also be able to put off of change HELP repayments they need to make. HELP includes HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP, VET FEE-HELP and VET Student Loans.
The Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships program has scholarships of up to $18,000 available. The program will give special consideration to students from drought and bushfire-affected communities.
Contact details can be found on the Study Assist website.
See the ATO's Bushfires 2019-20 page.
Visit the Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships page on the Department of Education website.
Additional Child Care Subsidy
Families living in areas affected by the 2019-20 bushfires can get help with the cost of child care.
Apply for the Additional Child Care Subsidy (temporary financial hardship). This is short-term help for up to 13 weeks. It is for families who use childcare and are having a hard time with their money and finances.
This subsidy is for families who:
- have had a hard time with their money and finances for a short-time due to something that happened in the last six months, and
- can not pay their child care fees.
Up to 100 hours of care is also available.
Child Care Subsidy-Activity Test
Families living in bushfire-affected areas might not have to pay any Child Care Subsidy – Activity test debt for the 2019-20 financial year. Activity test debt is usually applied automatically when Child Care Subsidy is balanced at the end of the financial year.
Read more at Services Australia’s Additional Child Care Subsidy page.
Support for parents and carers of children who can’t go to a local state school
If your child cannot go to a local government school because of geographical isolation, disability or special needs, you may be able to access the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme.
Visit the Services Australia website ‘Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme’ page
Support for families with child care requirements
The In Home Care (IHC) program provides flexible care that supports families’ workforce participation and child care requirements where other options are not available or appropriate.
For families with child care requirements. Visit the Department of Education’s in-home care page.
Additional Child Care Subsidy Temporary Financial Hardship
This is short-term help for families who use child care and are experiencing significant financial hardship.
Visit the Services Australia website and search for ‘additional child care subsidy temporary financial hardship’
Support for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants
If you are an NDIS participant affected by the bushfires contact the National Disability Insurance Agency.
Visit the NDIS website for more information.
The National Disability Advocacy Program provides people with disability with effective disability advocacy that promotes, protects and ensures their human rights, which can be of heightened concern during times of crisis.
Lost or destroyed passports or citizenship certificates
If you are an Australian and your passport was lost or damaged in a natural disaster, you might be able to get it replaced free.
If you hold a citizenship certificate, you can apply for a replacement through the Department of Home Affairs website.
Lost Medicare card
If you have lost or damaged your Medicare card, there are a number of ways to order a replacement card. You can order a replacement card:
- in person at a service centre
- using your Medicare online account through myGov or the Express Plus Medicare mobile app
- by calling the Medicare general enquiries line on 132 011.
Redeeming damaged banknotes
Banknotes damaged in the bushfires may be redeemed through the Reserve Bank.
The Reserve Bank will determine the value of the damaged banknotes and reimburse you the assessed amount.
Submit a damaged banknote claim through the Reserve Bank website.