Relief & Recovery

Financial and legal assistance

There are a range of financial supports and programs available to people impacted by the bushfires. Affected households may be eligible to apply for a range of payments. Applying for one payment does not prevent households from applying for other payments. Your eligibility will depend on your circumstances and the program criteria.

You can contact the Bushfires Case Support Program for further advice or read the fact sheet summarising the key financial grants available can be found here

Emergency Relief Assistance Payments

Emergency relief assistance is available to eligible fire-affected community members in East Gippsland and Wellington. 

  • The Personal Hardship Assistance Program (PHAP) payments are designed to provide immediate financial help for eligible Victorians experiencing extreme financial hardship due to the current bushfire emergency.
  • This payment helps people directly impacted cover the cost of emergency food, accommodation, clothing, medication and personal items.
  • Payments of up to $560 per adult and $280 per child (up to a maximum of $1960 per eligible household).
  • The payments have strict eligibility requirements and are distributed via a prepaid debit card that can be used to make purchases via EFTPOS or withdraw cash from bank ATMs.
  • To find out if you are eligible, visit a recovery centre in the area. Go to https://www.emergency.vic.gov.au/relief/#relief_and_recovery_centres to check which recovery centres are open. 
  • If you have relocated to Melbourne or other areas away from these recovery centres you can call: 1800 961 054 (9am – 5pm, 7 days per week) for more information.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services collects the personal information of anyone receiving PHAP payments and any suspicious claims may be referred to our legal department and/or Victoria Police.

Relief payments are NOT available for:

  • the costs of cleaning up fallen trees or branches in people's yards
  • the cost of repairing fences from fallen trees. If a tree has fallen on your house, please call the SES or your local council for more information.
  • business losses or compensation for the loss of income
  • the replacement of fencing
  • motor vehicle repairs or towing
  • paying insurance excess 

Emergency Re-establishment Payments

Emergency re-establishment assistance is available for people who's principal place of residence (your home) is uninhabitable for more than seven days because the fires.

  • These payments provides up to $42,250 per eligible household experiencing financial hardship, who have been affected by fire at their primary place of residence.
  • The grants will be available for clean-up, emergency accommodation, repairs, rebuilding (a principal place of residence), and replacing some damaged contents.
  • Re-establishment assistance is available to individuals or families who do not have building (home) insurance or contents insurance. 
  • https://services.dhhs.vic.gov.au/personal-hardship-assistance-program

The Department of Health and Human Services has a team undertaking re-establishment assessments. If you think you may be eligible for a re-establishment payment, you can speak to the payment assistance helpline on 1800 961 054. They will take your details and the department will be in contact soon.

Assistance is being provided through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment

Disaster Recovery Allowance

Red Cross - Immediate assistance grants

Emergency grants
People who have lost homes in the 2019/2020 bushfire season can apply to Australian Red Cross for an emergency grant of $20,000. Thanks to generous support from the Australian community and beyond, Red Cross has increased the emergency grant amount from $10,000 to $20,000 per household. If you have received a previous payment there is no need to re-apply, the Red Cross will contact you directly. Emergency grants are available across Australia to people whose primary place of residence has been destroyed or made uninhabitable by the fires since July 2019. 

Injury grants
A $7,500 payment for people who were hospitalised for two (2) or more days as the direct result of physical injuries or mental health issues caused by the fires and are experiencing financial hardship as a result. Hospital admission needs to have occurred within two weeks of the bushfire starting.

Primary residence repair grant
A $5,000 payment for home owners whose homes have been structurally damaged and require repair to make them safe to live in.  Home owners whose primary place of residence has not been destroyed but needs structural repairs (i.e. walls, ceilings, windows) to make it safe to return home.  This grant is only available to those who are experiencing financial hardship.

For further information and to apply;
www.redcross.org.au/grants
1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276)
Email: grants@redcross.org.au

Funding to help families get kids back to school

Support is available for eligible families with students in government and non-government schools from the impacted local government areas. Financial support is available to assist with the costs of uniforms and items including school shoes, books and stationery, and other items that kids need to use at school. Eligibility criteria apply - you can find out more information here: www.education.vic.gov.au/about/programs/Pages/bushfires-schools.aspx

Victorian Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries

Grants of up to $75,000 are available for primary producers directly affected by bushfires. You can access guidelines and application form that provide information about the program. 

This program helps pay for the costs of clean-up and other emergency measures including:

  • repairing or replacing fencing and horticultural netting
  • disposing of dead stock
  • rebuilding or replacing damaged or destroyed on-farm infrastructure
  • additional labour costs and more.

The grants are available to farmers (including apiarists) directly affected by the 2019-2020 bushfire disaster events in 15 local government areas: Ararat, Alpine, Ballarat, East Gippsland, Glenelg, Golden Plains, Indigo, Mansfield, Northern Grampians, Pyrenees, Southern Grampians, Towong, Wangaratta, Wellington and Wodonga.

For further information and to apply, contact Rural Finance on 1800 260 425, visit ruralfinance.com.au or email governmentservices@ruralfinance.com.au

Support for farmers, small businesses and organisations

A range of other grants are available for farmers, small businesses and organisations, visit the Information for business owners page and Livestock, fencing and agriculture page, or call Bushfire Recovery Victoria on 1800 560 760 or visit their website for more information.

Community Recovery Package

The Victorian Bushfires Community Recovery Package will provide $86 million in support to the following local government areas:

  • Ararat
  • Alpine
  • Ballarat
  • East Gippsland
  • Glenelg
  • Golden Plains
  • Indigo
  • Mansfield
  • Northern Grampians
  • Pyrenees
  • Southern Grampians
  • Towong
  • Wangaratta
  • Wellington
  • Wodonga

This includes:

  • Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries grants: Grants of up to $75,000 for primary producers directly affected by the recent bushfires.
  • Community and Emergency Services Health: $10 million to boost mental health services and support people impacted by fire, including emergency service personnel
  • Community Recovery Hubs (including mobile hubs): $15 million to provide recovery services and programs to dispersed communities and remote areas
  • Community Recovery Committees: $6 million to help councils and communities develop recovery plans
  • Community Recovery and Resilience Grants: $35 million to support locally-led programs for community connection, engagement and resilience
  • Immediate Reconstruction and Rebuilding Program: $20 million to contribute to temporary housing and repair damaged water assets and infrastructure

This initiative is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and the Victorian Government under Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

You can register you interest here: https://www.vic.gov.au/bushfire-recovery-victoria 

Tax Relief

The Government will provide payroll tax relief, cut stamp duty, waive water rates and give local councils extra support as part of a major package to help fire-affected communities recover.

The funding provides for:

  • Immediate regional payroll tax relief in East Gippsland, Mansfield, Wellington, Wangaratta, Towon and Apline so that regional employers only pay 25 per cent of the metropolitan rate
  • A 50 per cent concession on stamp duty for eligible properties, allowing businesses to relocate, expand or move into the fire-affected areas
  • No 2020 land tax on properties destroyed or substantially damaged and tax relief will be considered for properties affected but not destroyed or substantially damaged
  • No 2020 land tax on properties used to provide free accommodation for those affected by bushfires for over six months, and tax relief for properties used for between one and six months
  • Waiving water rates for 12 months for all homes or businesses destroyed or significantly damaged by fire, and providing rebates for customers affected by interruptions to their water supply
  • Motor vehicle duty relief of up to $2100 when purchasing replacement vehicles, including farm vehicles
  • Waive administration fees associated with VicRoads registration refunds for vehicles that have been damaged or destroyed, saving owners up to $60
  • Waive associated costs and fast-track requests for birth and wedding certificates destroyed by the bushfires – a small gesture that will make a big difference.

The Government will also establish a $10 million Council Assistance Fund, administered by Bushfire Recovery Victoria, for local governments in State of Disaster areas to access funding for people who have damaged or destroyed property, support businesses subject to annual charges or permits, or to waive other fees or charges. 

Eligible councils will be able to determine how best to allocate their funding, which may include rate relief for residents and businesses if they choose.

Additional support for businesses includes $500,000 grants to regional industry groups and chambers of commerce to facilitate vital networking events, tourism opportunities and pro-bono business partnerships, small business advisers available at all recovery centres and support for the wine industry to access technical advice so it’s best placed for this years’ vintage.

Financial counselling

The Rural Financial Counselling Service is also available to farmers across all fire affected areas, offering free and independent financial support to primary producers and non-agriculture related small businesses. The service can be contacted on 1300 834 775.

Financial counsellors are professionals, regulated by federal legislation and employed by not for profit community organisations. They provide information, advice and advocacy support free of charge, assisting people in dealing with life situations involving debt and hardship, dealing with creditors, and stabilising finances. The National Debt Helpline is staffed by financial counsellors and can be contacted on 1800 007 007.

Legal assistance

A range of issues can surface after a bushfire including legal issues such as; 

  • problems with insurance claims, including rejected claims 

  • difficulty paying your mortgage or loans 

  • disputes with your landlord about rent or leases 

  • lost or destroyed documents, including wills, land titles and identification documents 

  • property or assets that have been damaged or destroyed 

  • difficulty getting payments from Centrelink 

  • existing legal issues that have been impacted by the bushfires, such as parenting arrangements and child support. 

Anyone impacted by the bushfires can call Disaster Legal Help Victoria on 1800 113 432 (8 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday) to get free information about their legal issues and options for ongoing assistance. 

Disaster Legal Help Victoria is a collaboration between Victoria Legal Aid, the Federation of Community Legal Centres, the Law Institute of Victoria, the Victorian Bar and Justice Connect. 

Insurance

If you have property or contents insurance you should contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the fire.

  • Ask your insurer for advice on actions you should take
  • Do not discard or throw away damaged items without first consulting your insurance company
  • Make a list of items that have been damaged and take photographs if possible
  • Keep receipts for any emergency repair work

For assistance with insurance contact the Insurance Council of Australia on 1800 734 621 (24 hour hotline). You can find information on lodging a claim following a disaster here: www.disasters.org.au.

For further details on insurance advice see Understand Insurance.   

Replacing documents and identification

The Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria will replace certificates that were lost in the recent bushfires, free of charge and as quickly as possible. You can call the Department of Justice and Community Safety on 1300 369 367 and they will mail the forms to you.

If you've been affected by the recent fires VicRoads can:

  • refund your remaining registration without any admin fees for any fire damaged vehicles
  • replace vehicle and/or boat registration documents requred for insurance claims
  • replace your licence/learner permit/marine licence card for free.

For assistance, contact VicRoads on 13 11 71 or visit a VicRoads Customer Service Centre. Further information can be found at https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/licences/renew-replace-or-update/bushfire-relief-assistance 

Support for people with unpaid fines

Fines Victoria is providing assistance to people who have been impacted by the fires and have unpaid fines.

Contact Fines Victoria to discuss your options and the support available.

You can also arrange to pay fines by instalments or extension, or request a review if you believe a fine was unfairly issued or there is a valid reason why it should be withdrawn.

RR Sort Order: 
0