Financial support that’s available for those who need it right now
The world watched as Australia has been affected by the bushfires. People affected by these fires need financial support right now. While some options are listed in the Financial Literacy Hub, here is a more detailed run down of the services are available so that those who need financial support can access it now.
Ideally, this post wouldn’t be required. We would have a number of grants announced to fully support those who need it right now, insurance companies would pay up immediately and we would be able to manage bushfires in a way that limits their impact. That isn’t the reality in front of us right now so posts like this are needed to ensure the support being announced by companies and the government reaches those who need it.
Here’s the key financial support offered to those who need it right now:
1. National Emergency Payments
- The Australian Red Cross offers an emergency grant of $5,000 per household for people who lost their homes. If you or someone you know has had the home left destroyed and severely damaged by the bushfires, this payment could assist. It doesn’t whether you own or rent your home, you have until 30 April 2020 to apply. Access Australian Red Cross support here.
- The Disaster Recovery Payment from the Federal Government provides a one-off payment for individuals adversely affected by a major disaster like the bushfires. This payment is $1,000 for adults and $400 for children. Access the Disaster Recovery Payment.
- The Disaster Recovery Allowance from the Federal Government supports those who have experienced a loss of income as a result of the bushfires, which is particularly a good option for sole-traders who don’t have access to employer support at this time. Access the Disaster Recovery Allowance.
- If you need emergency accommodation, the Australian Defence Forces have opened up their bases from Brisbane to Adelaide to provide people with short-term evacuation assistance.
- For more homely support, Airbnb has launched their Open Homes Disaster Relief program in NSW and Victoria. This means that you can access free accommodation and use an Airbnb property in the same way you normally would but at no cost.
3. Mental health support
- Mental health is incredibly important to get on top of early so that you get support before it takes over your life. Services like Beyond Blue and Lifeline are available 24/7 to provide support over the phone or via an online chat service so that you can talk to people online. Young people aged between 12-25 can access free or low-cost services at a Headspace centre. Find a service that works for you and what you need.
4. Support from your bank
- Most Australian banks have launched an Emergency Assistance Package after the bushfires. Many including the Commonwealth Bank have also extended these services to volunteer firefighters.
- This includes customised assistance if you have a home loan, credit card and personal loan customers and may experience difficulties with payments, support is available such as loan restructuring and scrapping selected fees and charges. Give your bank a call to see what support their can offer you at this time.
5. Tax support
- If you’re needing to secure a place to live and getting your life back, now is not the time to be stressed about your taxes.
- The Australian Tax Office has support options including giving you extra time to pay your debt or lodge tax forms, fast tracking any refunds owed and helping reconstruct lost tax records. Access tax help here.
- For those whose life and business has been impacted as a result of the fires, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority has dedicated support available for individuals and small businesses impacted by the ongoing 2019–20 Australian bushfires. This includes support in making an insurance claim, particularly if you’re not happy with your insurance company’s response.
7. Business owners
- The Australian Government’s business.gov.au website has a specific page to provide information and support for Australian businesses who have been affected by the recent bushfires. This includes grants and assistance programs to help your business recover from the bushfires and support for rural businesses.
8. Communications support
- Many of the telecommunications companies have come out to offer support.
- Telstra is offering volunteer firefighters free calls over a period of time and have made support assistance packages to customers in the bushfire affected areas of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.
- Optus is offering extended timeframes for bill payments and bill waivers in instances of extreme financial hardship for affected customers.
- Vodafone is automatically applying extra data to the accounts of Vodafone customers who are or have been in bushfire impacted areas. Get in touch with your phone service provider and see what support they can offer you.
The bushfires in Australia have affected huge sections of our community. If you haven’t been directly impacted, we also have a full list of how you can use your money and time to support those who have been affected by recent bushfires.