As has been widely reported, we have never seen a bushfire crisis of this magnitude in Australia. Here is a list of ways you can give and receive support during this time.
Victorian Legal Aid Disaster Help
The Disaster Legal Help team is a joint initiative with the Law Institute of Victoria, Justice Connect the Federation of Community Legal Centres and the Victorian Bar to provide free legal advice and referrals to disaster affected families: http://www.disasterlegalhelp.org.au/ The Disaster Help website also has a number of fact sheets about common legal issues which occur following a natural disaster, including insurance law. Bushfire victims can also call 1800 113 432 from 8 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday.
Financial counselling help
The National Debt Helpline is ready to offer information about what assistance is available to bushfire affected callers, plus equally importantly, listening with empathy to people who will be calling in. The Financial and Consumer Rights Council (FCRC) will also be advocating to:
- Have disaster response funding deployed so that there are genuinely additional, trained and supported financial counselling positions created in Victoria to meet the disaster response demand
- Have funding bodies organise to allow agencies to deploy their funded staff into the disaster response effort
- Ensure those deployed have relevant professional development and training and strong supports behind them during and after deployment
FCRC has compiled a list of information and resources to assist people affected by the bushfires. This information is available from the FCRC website: https://fcrc.devapp.com.au/victorian-bushfire-assistance/
What type of financial relief is available for people directly affected by the Victorian bushfires?
Here is a list of relief packages available to help relieve the financial stress associated with paying:
- Credit card bills
- Loan repayments
- Energy bills
- Water bills
- Landline and mobile phone bills
- Insurance premiums
For free, independent and financial advice regarding debts, contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 to speak to a financial counsellor.
What type of financial support is available for people who have lost homes or income due to the Victorian bushfires?
Here is a list of financial payments available to support people who have lost their homes or their income as a direct result of the 2019-2020 bushfires in Victoria.
This is not an exhaustive list and doesn’t include the many non-profit organisations that are providing support to people affected by the bushfires.
Donate and support
If you would like to donate or support organisations providing direct relief and support on the front lines of the bushfire crisis you can donate directly to any of the below orgs. There are, of course, many other organisations that need support, but this list is just a start.
WIRES Wildlife Emergency Fund
Large numbers of animals have been lost in the fires and there will be long-term food, water and habitat shortages for surviving animals. It is an incredibly difficult time for wildlife. https://www.wires.org.au/donate/emergency-fund
Collecting and distributing food to those in need. https://www.foodbank.org.au/support-us/make-a-donation/donate-food/
The Red Cross is supporting thousands of people in evacuation centres in Victoria and New South Wales. https://www.redcross.org.au/campaigns/disaster-relief-and-recovery-donate
NSW Rural Fire Service
Donations made directly to the NSW RFS are for the benefit of volunteer brigades and can help provide extra resources for firefighters and volunteers on the ground protecting homes and lives. https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/volunteer/support-your-local-brigade
VIC Country Fire Authority
A Bushfire Disaster Appeal has been established to support community members affected by the recent bushfires in East Gippsland and Hume.
Fund for First Nations communities
Fundraiser initiated and maintained by Neil Morris a Yorta Yorta First Nations man to assist First Nations peoples who have been affected by these tragic circumstances. https://www.gofundme.com/f/fire-relief-fund-for-first-nations-communities
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army offers a range of services including financial assistance, emotional wellbeing and support services and information, referrals and advice for those in need. https://www.salvationarmy.org.au/donate/make-a-donation/donate-online/?appeal=disasterappeal
St Vincent de Paul Society
Vinnies is on the ground helping people as they deal with the immediate aftermath of fires, and we will continue to be there as they rebuild their lives in the long term. https://donate.vinnies.org.au/appeals-nsw/vinnies-nsw-bushfire-appeal-nsw
Find a bed
Have a spare room? Findabed.info has been set up so people can offer those escaping the fires a safe place to stay.