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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 $2 billion to the National Bushfire Recovery Fund (NBRF).

The fund is allocated to the bushfire recovery programs listed below. To help get this money to people fast, in many instances we’ve asked State and Territory Governments to use their existing systems and structures to implement these programs on behalf of the Commonwealth. This includes assessing applications and delivering support directly on the ground. We’ve flagged in the table below which programs are delivered at the State/Territory level.

In addition, we’ve enlisted charities to disseminate a portion of the funds as emergency relief; this money is managed separately to public donations.

In the main, this approach has been effective at rolling out assistance fast – and where systems and processes can be better, we’re working with our partners to cut red tape.

More than $1 billion from the NBRF has been spent 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.

In addition, the Australian Government has also used other existing disaster support funding mechanisms including disaster recovery payments and allowances, to provide an additional $629.5 million to communities.

When you add in these programs, $1.7 billion from Australian taxpayers is already working hard on the ground.

Funding is rolling out over a two-year period. This means people and communities have time to think about their recovery needs, and can seek support at their own pace according to their individual circumstances.

These figures are based on reporting provided to the Agency as at 26 June 2020, and do not reflect an end of financial year reconciliation.

Program Funding

$448.5 million Local Economic Recovery and Complementary Projects Fund

This funding will support the delivery of local economic recovery plans and projects in bushfire affected communities.

The National Bushfire Recovery Agency will oversee this program in partnership with state, territory, and local governments. State and Territory Governments will have responsibility for delivering the plans and projects, and will be invited to match Commonwealth funding.

More details: Media Release - Boost for Bushfire Recovery

Allocated: $448.5 million
Spent: Program starts 1 July 2020

$149.7 million for bushfire recovery for native wildlife and habitats

This funding will further enable on-the-ground action to protect native species and 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 details: Media Release - Boost for Bushfire Recovery

Allocated: $149.7 million
Spent: Program starts 1 July 2020

$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 details: Media Release - Boost for Bushfire Recovery

Allocated: $15 million
Spent: Funding commences 1 July 2020

$27.1 million for strengthening telecommunications against natural disasters

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 details: Media Release - Boost for Bushfire Recovery

Allocated: $27.1 million
Spent: Program starts 1 July 2020

$13.5 million for additional community wellbeing support

This funding will boost localised support for bushfire affected individuals to ensure their emotional and mental wellbeing.

More details: Media Release - Boost for Bushfire Recovery

Allocated: $13.5 million
Spent: Program starts 1 July 2020

$53.4 million for immediate wildlife rescue and recovery 

This funding includes $25 million for on-ground support for fire-affected wildlife delivered through organisations like Natural Resource Management Groups, Greening Australia, and Conversation Volunteers Australia. It also includes funding to support our zoos.

The remaining $25 million has been committed to an emergency intervention fund, including $12 million in grants ranging from $100,000 to $1 million for projects that focus on wildlife assistance and support for plants and invertebrates. 

The remaining $13 million is provided to states to support other on-ground emergency interventions and recovery activities.  

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

Allocated: $53.4 million
Spent: $30.4 million

57 per cent spent to date

$15 million for the Rural Financial Counselling Service

This funding is for an additional 60 rural financial counsellors and support workers to support the path to recovery over a two-year period.

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

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

Allocated: $15 million
Spent: $3.8 million

25 per cent spent to date

Remaining funds will allow this service to continue to 2021-22.

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

This funding is for coordination of 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 details: Support for bushfire-affected communities

Allocated: $8 million
Spent: $4 million

50 per cent spent to date

Remaining funds will allow this service to continue to 2020-21.

Up to $2 million for wellbeing support for school communities

This funding boosts chaplaincy support under the National School Chaplaincy Program in bushfire-affected schools.
Under this program, funding has been provided to New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.

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

100 per cent spent to date

$10,000 grants for small business

This funding provides grants for small businesses that have experienced a significant decline in revenue as a result of the 2019-20 bushfires, located in specified Local Government Areas.

The grants are accessed through a simplified application process, with less documentation required, to ensure more small businesses can access the support sooner.

To date, over 20,000 small businesses have been approved for grants under this program.

Grants are delivered on-the-ground by State and Territory Governments, with oversight provided by the National Bushfire Recovery Agency.

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

Allocated: $234 million initially (demand driven)
Spent: $193.9 million *

Uptake of $10,000 grants for small business

Line chart showing uptake of $10,000 grants for small business between 18 March and 15 May 2020

* This is the total amount of funding spent from the NBRF.
If State and Territory contributions are included, the total amount of funding released via this program is $207.9 million.

Assistance for families in bushfire affected areas

Families living in bushfire declared areas have been given an exemption to any potential Child Care Subsidy (CCS) activity test debt for the 2019-20 financial year.

Allocated: Up to $25.9 million
Spent: CCS activity test debt is calculated as part of reconciliation at the end of each financial year

$76 million for bushfire recovery in the tourism sector

This funding assists tourism recovery for bushfire affected regions.
Some activities under this program - including dedicated domestic and international marketing campaigns, international media familiarisation visits, and the Australian Tourism Exchange trade event - have been put on hold due to COVID-19 travel and social gathering restrictions. 

More details: Media Release - Rebuilding Australian tourism

Allocated: $76 million
Spent: $7.8 million

10 per cent spent to date

While expenditure has been interrupted by COVID-19, funding will continue into 2020-21, with plans dedicated to supporting bushfire-affected regions to be confirmed once travel restrictions are further eased. 

$53.4 million for supporting the mental health of Australians affected by bushfires

This funding provides immediate counselling and ongoing mental and emotional wellbeing support for individuals, families, and communities. The bulk of the funding will be available next financial year when we expect more communities to seek mental health support as they move from the relief phase through the recovery phase.

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

Allocated: $53.4 million
Spent: $9.4 million

18 per cent spent to date

Remaining funds will allow services to continue to 2021-22.

$15.9 million for mental health support for emergency services workers

This funding provides additional and complementary support services and expands the pool of services available to emergency service workers so they and their families can access specialised support, when they are ready. Emergency service workers also have access to the immediate 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; and a national action plan aimed at lowering suicide rates and improving mental health outcomes among current and former emergency services workers.

Support services will be available from 1 July 2020, with the national action plan 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: $11.5 million

72 per cent spent to date

Funding continues into 2020-21, so that services are available following the initial bushfire event.

$62 million for immediate bushfire assistance to Local Governments

This funding is for bushfire impacted councils to use to speed-up recovery and help strengthen community resilience.

Many local councils are upgrading or rebuilding local infrastructure and undertaking projects to generate economic activity, as well as projects to build community resilience.

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

Allocated: $62 million
Spent: $62 million

100 per cent spent to date

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

This funding supports the operations of a financial support line, with 10 additional financial counsellors providing advice to around 100 small businesses a day.

Small businesses can now call 1800 413 828 to receive up-to-date and comprehensive information on the range of assistance available to them, as well as financial counselling services.

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

Allocated: $3.5 million
Spent: $1 million

29 per cent spent to date

Remaining funds will allow services to continue to 2021-22.

 

Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grants Program

This funding is provided to farmers, fishers, and foresters located in declared bushfire affected areas.

Over 2100 primary producers have been approved for grants under this program so far.

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

Allocated: $85.8 million initially (demand driven)
Spent: $101.4 million *

Uptake of primary industries grants program

Line chart showing uptake of primary industries grants program between 31 January and 19 May 2020

* This is the total amount of funding spent from the NBRF.
If State and Territory contributions are included, the total amount of funding released via this program is $133.8 million.

$20 million for additional fire-fighting aircraft

This funding delivered additional aerial firefighting capabilities, including aircraft.

More details: Media Release - Bushfire relief and recovery

Allocated: $20 million
Spent: $20 million

100 per cent spent to date

$12.8 million for Small Business Recovery Centres

This funding enables 21 expert business advisors to get out on the ground in fire affected regions and help businesses plan their next steps. These advisors will work closely with Chambers of Commerce and local businesses in fire affected areas.

Advisors are already on the ground in some areas, with all 21 advisors expected to be servicing all areas by July 2020

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

Allocated: $12.8 million
Spent: Funding starts 1 July 2020

Back-to-school support

The Additional Payment for Children (back to school support) provides an additional $400 for the eligible principal carer of a child to help families with education expenses. This payment is automatically provided to the principal carer of a child affected by the 2019-20 bushfires, who is eligible for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (and the ex-Gratia equivalent).

Over 86,000 claims have been paid.

Allocated: $34 million initially (demand driven)
Spent: $34.7 million

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

This funding includes:

  • $40 million for charities to administer additional 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 and for locally based providers.

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

Allocated: $50 million
Spent: $47.8 million

96 per cent spent to date

Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements including debris clean-up

Under the DRFA, the Australian Government provides funding directly to State and Territory Governments to assist with the costs associated with specific disaster relief and recovery assistance. This is managed on a reimbursement basis.

Over 3500 properties have been cleared under this program. South Australia completed its last house clean-up at the end of May 2020. New South Wales expects clean up to be finished by the end of July 2020, and Victoria by the end of August 2020.

More details: Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements 2018

Allocated: $445.9 million initially (demand driven)
Spent: Invoices for work completed continue to flow through from the States

Bushfire affected properties cleared under this program

Line chart showing properties cleared between 1 March, 1 April and 1 May 2020

Compensation for volunteer firefighters

This funding provides payments to volunteer firefighters, where they have been called out for extended periods of service.

Over 3100 volunteers have had claims granted to date.

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

Allocated: $60 million initially (demand driven)
Spent: $11.6 million

Uptake of compensation for volunteer firefighters

Line chart showing uptake of compensation for volunteer firefighters, fortnightly, between 19 January and 10 May 2020

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

This funding provides support to individuals, small businesses and primary producers to navigate through the legal issues that arise in the aftermath of the bushfires. Obtaining timely legal assistance is an important element of disaster recovery.

The majority of this funding is for the 2020-21 financial year, in recognition of the timeframe in which legal issues normal arise following a disaster.

Allocated: $8.7 million
Spent: $0.3 million – Plus more invoices from the States coming soon

3 per cent spent to date

Remaining funds will allow services to continue to 2021-22.

Small businesses grants and concessional loans

This funding covers grants of up to $50,000 and concessional loans of up to $500,000 for businesses that have suffered significant asset loss or a significant loss of revenue.

To make accessing support easier, more face-to-face support has been made available to provide guidance on administrative processes and application requirements for grants and loans. Eligibility requirements for concessional loans have also been relaxed and simplified. This includes lowering the threshold for documentation when applying for a loan.

Over 1700 businesses have been approved for small business recovery grants worth over $48 million and over 300 small businesses have been approved for concessional loans.

Grants and loans are delivered by State and Territory Governments.

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

Allocated: $68.4 million initially (demand driven)
Spent (grants): $33.7 million – Plus more invoices from the States coming soon
Spent (loans): $22.5 million * – Plus more invoices from the States coming soon

Uptake of small business grants and concessional loans

Line chart showing uptake of small business grants and concessional loans between 29 January and 15 May 2020

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

Evaluation and lessons learned

This funding will support the evaluation of the Black Summer recovery, providing critical lessons learnt. All levels of government may then use this disaster recovery evidence to build on existing mechanisms and inform future responses to natural disasters.

Allocated: $1.3 million
Spent: Funding starts 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 $629.5 million in Commonwealth funding has been made available to communities affected by the 2019-20 bushfires, including: 

  • $67.7 million under Operation Bushfire Assist
  • $11 million for additional fire-fighting aircraft in 2019 and 2020, on top of the regular funding of around $15 million per year
  • $541.4 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

Please note: These figures are based on reports provided by responsible agencies. The funding reported may vary from other published amounts for reasons including: rounding, updated costings, and disaggregation of funding across portfolios and programs. Final expenditure will be reported for the 2019-20 Final Budget Outcome.

On 23 June 2020, the Australian Government committed a further $86 million to support the forestry industry, wine grape producers, and apple growers hit by the bushfires and the effects of COVID-19.

Total allocated under the NBRF

$1.99 billion

Total spent from the NBRF so far

More than $1 billion

This includes $597.8 million already spent, and $471.8 million to be reimbursed or reconciled.

Total spent from all sources

$1.7 billion