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Funding

Commonwealth Bushfire Relief and Recovery Funding Factsheet

Helping Australians recover from the recent bushfires is a national priority.

The Australian Government has committed more than $2 billion to the National Bushfire Recovery Fund (NBRF).

The Australian Government has allocated money from the NBRF to the bushfire recovery programs on the list below. To help get this money to people fast, in many instances we’ve asked State and Territory Governments to use the systems and processes they already have to implement these programs on behalf of the Commonwealth. We’ve flagged in the table below which programs are delivered at the State/Territory level.

This includes systems and processes to assess applications and provide direct support.

We’ve also asked charities to share some of the money with communities as emergency relief. This money is managed separately to public donations.

This approach has worked well to make sure support is rolled out quickly. We’ll keep working with our partners to find ways to make the systems and processes better and cut red tape.

We’ve spent $1.2 billion from the NBRF so far. This money has either already been spent or is being reimbursed to State and Territory Governments for help they deliver on our behalf.

The Australian Government has also used other existing disaster support funding mechanisms including disaster recovery payments and allowances, to provide an additional $640.3 million to communities.

This means $1.8 billion from Australian taxpayers is already being used where it is needed.

We’ll roll-out funding over the next two years. This means people and communities:

  • have time to think about what they need to recover
  • can get support at their own pace for what they need.

These figures are based on reporting provided to the Agency as at 31 August 2020. These numbers do not reflect a final end-of-financial-year reconciliation for 2019-20.

Social and Community

Program Funding

Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) including debris clean-up

Under the DRFA, the Australian Government gives funding directly to State and Territory Governments. The DRFA helps pay for specific disaster relief and recovery assistance. This is managed on a reimbursement basis, which means the States/Territories need to spend their own money first and then we will repay it.
Over 4,800 properties have been cleared under this program. 
All residential properties in South Australia and Victoria have been cleared. In New South Wales, clean-up of most residential properties is complete. 

More information: Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements 2018

Allocated: $445.9 million initially (demand driven).
Spent: Invoices for work completed will keep flowing through from the States.

Bushfire-affected properties cleared under this program

 

$62 million for immediate bushfire assistance to Local Governments

This funding was given to bushfire-affected councils to:

  • speed-up recovery
  • help strengthen community resilience.

Many local councils have projects underway to:

  • upgrade or rebuild local infrastructure
  • generate economic activity
  • build community resilience.

More information: Media Release - Immediate financial support for bushfire affected communities

Allocated: $62 million.
Spent: $62 million.

100 per cent spent (provided to local councils).

Funding for this program finished in 2019-20.

$53.4 million to support the mental health of Australians affected by bushfires

This funding gives immediate counselling and ongoing mental and emotional wellbeing support to individuals, families, and communities. Most of the funding will be available in the 2020-21 financial year. This is when we expect more communities to look for mental health support as they move out of the relief phase into the recovery phase.

More information: Media Release - Immediate mental health services deployed into fire affected communities

Allocated: $53.4 million.
Spent: $20.6 million.

39 per cent spent so far.

The rest of this money will help this support keep going in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

$50 million for extra emergency relief delivered by charities, plus financial counselling

This funding included:

  • $40 million for charities to provide extra emergency relief funding to bushfire-affected communities on behalf of the Australian Government.
  • $10 million for financial counselling services in bushfire-affected communities, including extra support for:
    • the National Debt Helpline
    • locally-based providers.

More information: Media Release - Delivering more immediate support to Australians impacted by bushfires

Allocated: $50 million.
Spent: $50 million.

100 per cent spent (provided to charities and providers).

Funding for this program finished in 2019-20.

Back-to-school support

The Additional Payment for Children (back-to-school support) gave an extra $400 to a child’s main carer to help with their education expenses. The child’s main carer was paid automatically if their child was:

  • affected by the 2019-20 bushfires
  • eligible for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (and the ex-Gratia equivalent).

Over 88,000 claims were paid.

Allocated: $34 million initially (demand driven).
Spent: $35.3 million.

100 per cent spent.

Funding for this program finished in 2019-20.

Assistance for families in bushfire-affected areas

Families living in bushfire-affected areas won’t have to worry about the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) activity test debt they might have in the 2019-20 financial year.

Allocated: Up to $25.9 million.
Spent: CCS activity test debt is worked out at the end of each financial year.

$15.9 million for mental health support for emergency services workers

This funding gives emergency service workers and their families additional and complementary support services at no cost. It builds on the pool of services already available so they can access specialised support when they’re ready. Emergency service workers can also access the free counselling and wellbeing supports for bushfire recovery that are in place.

The funding delivers:

  • prevention and treatment services for emergent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues
  • a structured network for emergency services workers and their families to connect with others who share similar experiences
  • a national action plan aimed at lowering suicide rates and improving mental health outcomes among current and former emergency services workers.

Support services are now available. The national action plan will be in place by 1 July 2022.

More details: Media Release - Immediate mental health services deployed into fire affected communities and Media Release - $11.5 million in mental health grants to support emergency services workers affected by the bushfires

Allocated: $15.9 million.
Spent: $11.6 million.

73 per cent spent so far.

This funding will keep going in 2020-21, so that services are available after the initial bushfire event.

Compensation for volunteer firefighters

This funding gave payments to volunteer firefighters who were called out for long periods of service.

Payments were made to more than 3,300 volunteers.

More information: Media Release - New payments to support NSW volunteer firefighters

Allocated: $15 million initially (demand driven).
Spent: $12.0 million.

Uptake of compensation for volunteer firefighters

Funding for this measure finished in 2019-20.

This allocation has been adjusted to reflect demand to 30 June 2020. Unspent funds have been reallocated to support the Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grants Program.

 

$13.5 million for more community wellbeing support

This funding will boost emotional and mental wellbeing support for people affected by the bushfires. Support is delivered locally.

More information: Media Release - Boost for Bushfire Recovery

Allocated: $13.5 million.
Spent: $5.1 million

38 per cent spent.

The rest of this money will help keep this service going in 2020-21.

$8.7 million for legal assistance services to support bushfire relief and recovery

This funding supports:

  • individuals
  • small businesses
  • primary producers.

It helps them work through the legal issues that come up after the bushfires. Getting fast legal assistance is important for disaster recovery.

Most of this funding is for the 2020-21 financial year. This is when we expect legal issues to come up after this disaster.

Allocated: $8.7 million.
Spent: $8.7 million.

100 per cent spent so far.

$8 million for mental health support for early learning and school communities

This funding is for coordinating mental health support for local schools and early childhood education and care services in bushfire-affected communities.

Officers are working with early childhood education and care services and schools. The priority regions are:

  • New South Wales – Northern NSW, Hunter-New England, Mid North Coast, Nepean-Blue Mountains, Illawarra-Shoalhaven, Southern NSW, and the Snowy Valleys
  • Victoria – East Gippsland, Ovens, and Murray
  • South Australia – Kangaroo Island and Adelaide Hills
  • Queensland – Central Queensland and Southern Darling Downs

More information: Support for bushfire-affected communities

Allocated: $8 million.
Spent: $6 million.

75 per cent spent so far.

The rest of this money will help this service keep going in 2020-21.

Up to $2 million for wellbeing support for school communities

This funding helped the National School Chaplaincy Program to deliver chaplaincy support in bushfire-affected schools.

This program has provided funding to:

  • New South Wales
  • Queensland
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania
  • Victoria.

Allocated: Up to $2 million.
Spent: $2 million.

100 per cent spent.

Funding for this program finished in 2019-20.

Economic

Program Funding

$448.5 million Local Economic Recovery and Complementary Projects Fund

This funding will support:

  • the delivery of local economic recovery plans
  • projects in bushfire-affected communities.

We will oversee this program in partnership with state, territory, and local governments. State and Territory Governments will:

  • deliver projects
  • be asked if they can match Commonwealth funding.

You can keep up-to-date with projects on our Local Communities web page.

More information: Media Release - Boost for Bushfire Recovery

Allocated: $448.5 million.
Spent: $9.9 millon.

2 per cent so far.

$10,000 grants for small business

This funding gives grants to small businesses:

  • in certain Local Government Areas
  • that have lost a significant amount of revenue because of the 2019-20 bushfires.

Small businesses can now access the grants through a simpler application process. They will need less documentation to get the support they need sooner.

So far, grants have been approved for over 21,000 small businesses under this program.

State and Territory Governments deliver the grants, and we provide oversight.

More information: Media Release - Red tape cut, access easier for bushfire affected-small businesses

Allocated: $234 million initially (demand driven).
Spent: $209.9 million *

Uptake of $10,000 grants for small business


* This is the total amount of funding spent from the NBRF. If State and Territory contributions are included, the total amount of funding released through this program is $226.5 million.

Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grants Program

This funding is for farmers, fishers, and foresters located in declared bushfire-affected areas.

So far, over 2,500 primary producers have been approved for grants under this program.

More information: Media Release - Initial $100 million bushfire emergency support for primary producers

Allocated: $141 million initially (demand driven)*
Spent: $118.3 million **

Uptake of primary industries grants program

 
* This allocation has been increased to take into account an updated estimate of demand.

** This is the total amount of funding spent from the NBRF. If we include State and Territory contributions, the total amount of funding released via this program is $156.8 million.

$76 million for bushfire recovery in the tourism sector

This funding helps tourism recovery for bushfire-affected regions including:

  • domestic and international marketing campaigns
  • international media visits
  • the Australian Tourism Exchange trade event.

Some activities under this program have been put on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

More information: Media Release - Rebuilding Australian tourism

Allocated: $76 million.
Spent: $18.1 million.

24 per cent spent so far.

While spending has been interrupted by COVID-19, funding will keep going into 2020-21. We will confirm plans for supporting bushfire-affected areas when travel restrictions ease.

$50,000 small business grants and concessional loans up to $500,000

This funding covers:

  • grants of up to $50,000
  • concessional loans of up to $500,000.

A concessional loan has better terms than other standard loans you might get. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • a lower interest rate
  • the option to defer payments.

This funding is for businesses that have suffered significant: 

  • asset loss, or
  • loss of revenue.

More face-to-face support is now available. This support will help guide people through administrative processes and application requirements. Eligibility requirements for concessional loans have also been made simpler. This includes lowering the amount of documentation needed when applying for a loan.

More than 2000 businesses have been approved for small business recovery grants worth over $50 million. More than 400 small businesses have been approved for concessional loans.

Grants and loans are delivered by State and Territory Governments.

More information: Media Release - Immediate small business support for bushfire affected communities

Allocated: $68.4 million initially for small business grants (demand driven). Concessional loans do not have an allocation because the money will be repaid.
Spent (grants): $39.2 million * - Plus more invoices from the States coming soon.
Spent (loans): $32.8 million**

Uptake of small business grants and concessional loans


* This is the total amount of funding spent from the NBRF. If we include State and Territory contributions, the total amount of funding released via this program is $55.8 million.

**This is total loans approved, not direct and immediate payments from the NBRF.

NEW: $41 million to create a Forestry Recovery Development Fund

This funding will support the recovery of forestry processing businesses and jobs in bushfire-affected communities.

More information: Media Release - Rebuilding relief for Australia’s primary producers

Allocated: $41 million.
Spent: Funding started on 1 July 2020.

NEW: $31 million for bushfire-affected apple growers

This funding will help to re-establish and repair damaged or destroyed orchards or perennial trees.

More information: Media Release - Rebuilding relief for Australia’s primary producers

Allocated: $31 million.
Spent: Funding started on 1 July 2020.

$15 million for the Rural Financial Counselling Service

This funding is for an extra 60 rural financial counsellors and support workers to support the path to recovery over the next two years.

To date, 27 full-time counsellors and support staff have been deployed to bushfire-affected areas.

More information: Media Release - Initial $100 million bushfire emergency support for primary producers

Allocated: $15 million.
Spent: $11.3 million.

75 per cent spent so far.

The rest of this money will help this service keep going in 2021-22.

$15 million for forestry industries

This funding will help with the additional transport costs of moving salvaged burnt logs to out-of-range processing mills and storage.

More information: Media Release - Rebuilding relief for Australia’s primary producers

Allocated: $15 million.
Spent: Funding started on 1 July 2020.

$12.8 million for Expert Business Facilitators

This funding allows 21 expert business facilitators to visit bushfire-affected areas and help businesses plan their next steps. These advisors will work closely with Chambers of Commerce and local businesses.

Advisors are already on the ground across impacted areas. More information: Media Release - Red tape cut, access easier for bushfire-affected small businesses

Allocated: $12.8 million.
Spent: $0.5 million.

4 per cent spent so far.

NEW: $5.7 million for wine grape producers

Grants of up to $10,000 will be given to wine grape producers affected by smoke taint to support their businesses into the future.

More information: Media Release - Rebuilding relief for Australia’s primary producers

Allocated: $5.7 million.
Spent: Funding started on 1 July 2020.

$3.5 million for financial counselling for small businesses in bushfire-affected communities

This funding allows a financial support line to operate, with 10 extra financial counsellors. The support staff provide advice to around 100 small businesses each day.

Small businesses can now call 1800 413 828 for up-to-date and comprehensive information about:

  • support available to them
  • financial counselling services.

More information: Media Release - Immediate small business support for bushfire affected communities

Allocated: $3.5 million.
Spent: $1.0 million.

29 per cent spent so far.

The rest of this money will help this service keep going in 2021-22.

Infrastructure

Program Funding

$27.1 million for strengthening telecommunications against natural disaster

This funding will strengthen the resilience of Australia’s telecommunications networks, to help prevent, mitigate, and manage outages during future natural disasters.

This program is further supported with an additional $10 million reallocated from the Mobile Black Spot program.

More information: Media Release - Boost for Bushfire Recovery

Allocated: $27.1 million.
Spent: Funding started on 1 July 2020.

$20 million for additional fire-fighting aircraft

This funding provided extra aerial firefighting capabilities, including aircraft.

More information: Media Release - Bushfire relief and recovery

Allocated: $20 million.
Spent: $20 million.

100 per cent spent.

Funding for this program finished in 2019-20.

Environment

Program Funding

$149.7 million for bushfire recovery for native wildlife and habitats

This funding will support more action where it is needed to:

  • protect native animals
  • build knowledge for better land management.

It builds on the Australian Government’s initial $53.4 million investment for immediate wildlife rescue and recovery.

More information: Media Release - Boost for Bushfire Recovery

Allocated: $149.7 million.
Spent: Funding started on 1 July 2020.

$53.4 million for immediate wildlife rescue and recovery

This funding includes $25 million for support where it is needed for fire-affected wildlife. It will be delivered through organisations like:

  • Natural Resource Management Groups
  • Greening Australia
  • Conversation Volunteers Australia.

It also includes funding to support our zoos.

We’ve committed the other $25 million to an emergency intervention fund. This fund includes $12 million in grants ranging from $100,000 to $1 million for projects that focus on:

  • wildlife assistance
  • support for plants and invertebrates.

We’re providing the other $13 million to states to support:

  • emergency interventions where they are needed
  • recovery activities.

More information: Media Release - $50 million for emergency wildlife and habitat recovery

Allocated: $53.4 million.
Spent: $41.8 million.

78 per cent spent so far.

Lessons and insight

Evaluation and lessons learnt

This funding will support the evaluation of the Black Summer recovery, and provide a list of important lessons learnt. All levels of government can use this disaster recovery evidence to build on existing processes and work out the best ways to respond to natural disasters in the future.

Allocated: $1.3 million.
Spent: Funding started on 1 July 2020.

Other Australian Government Funding

In addition to the programs listed above, the Australian Government has other existing support available to communities impacted by disasters.

An additional $640.3 million in Commonwealth funding is available to communities affected by the 2019-20 bushfires.

This includes:

  • $68.4 million under Operation Bushfire Assist
  • $11 million for extra fire-fighting aircraft in 2019 and 2020, on top of the regular funding of around $15 million per year
  • $546.5 million in Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments, Disaster Recovery Allowance (including the ex-Gratia equivalents), and other funding under the joint Commonwealth-State Government Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements
  • $2 million for Lifeline Australia and Kids Helpline
  • $7.4 million supporting youth through headspace
  • $5 million for research projects to investigate the physiological and mental health effects of bushfires.

On 23 June 2020, the Australian Government committed a further $10 million for the establishment of storage facilities for processed timber products, fire-affected logs, and other forestry products.

The Australian Government has also provided $88.1 million over 12 years from 2020-21 to transition to a new National Research Centre for Disaster Resilience, which will deliver and scale-up applied research to inform Australia’s disaster recovery and resilience effort.

Total allocated under the NBRF

$2.1 billion

Total spent from the NBRF so far

$1.2 billion. This includes $471.8 million to be reimbursed or reconciled.

Total spent from all sources

$1.8 billion

Please note: We have based these figures on reports provided by responsible agencies. The funding reported may be different from other published amounts due to:

  • rounding
  • updated costings
  • disaggregation of funding across portfolios and programs.

Final expenditure will be reported for the 2019-20 Final Budget Outcome.