There are a number of supports available to individuals and communities impacted by the bushfire crisis in NSW. We have compiled a resource to assist you to access these supports. This resource is a living document and will be updated as needed.
Please note that NCOSS is a peak body and cannot directly provide people with assistance for bushfire relief. Below are details of key services that can provide immediate assistance. For those people looking to volunteer or donate, information can be found here.
Where to get assistance with bushfire relief
Phone and mobile
Food and clothing
Pets and livestock
Mental health support
For general information on Disaster Assistance in NSW, visit the NSW Office of Emergency Management website or call the Disaster Welfare Line on 1800 018 444. Alternatively, you can request a call with a Service NSW bushfire customer care specialist, who can help connect you with support services and programs. The Office of Emergency Management is also hosting community recovery meetings at these locations. Visit the National Bushfire Recovery Agency website for general information on assistance from the Australian Government.
Replacing damaged documents (licences, permits, certificates)
- Service NSW is offering people whose important documents have been damaged due to bushfires free replacement of licences, permits and certificates, including birth, marriage and change of name certificates and NSW Fair Trading permits and licences. Call 13 77 88 for assistance or check to see if a Mobile Service Centre will be coming to your community.
- Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment is a one-off payment ($1000 per adult, $400 for each child under 16) and can be claimed by people adversely affected by bushfires in August 2019 through to January 2020. Call 180 22 66 to apply by 5 July 2020.
- Australian Government Disaster Recovery Allowance is available for people who lost income due to bushfires in August 2019 through to January 2020. The allowance is provided at the equivalent rate to Newstart or Youth Allowance payments for a maximum of 13 weeks. Call 180 22 66 to apply by 1 July 2020.
- Bushfire Legal Aid Scheme is available for small businesses and farmers with legal issues related to the 2019/2020 bushfires. They can apply through their lawyer for funding to assist with their legal costs under the new Commonwealth funded Bushfire Legal Aid Scheme.If you are an eligible small business or farmer, you can apply for funding of $2000 to assist you to resolve your legal matter, and up to $5000 for related expenses. Additional funding is available in reasonable circumstances.For information contact your local lawyer, call the Legal Aid NSW Disaster Response Legal Service on 1800 801 529 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- NSW Government Disaster Relief Grants are available for eligible individuals and families whose homes and essential household contents have been damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster and are uninsured. Call the Disaster Welfare Line on 1800 018 444 to apply.
- NSW Government Disaster Recovery Grants of up to $50,000 are available for eligible primary producers, small businesses and not-for-profit organisations in areas affected by the bushfires occurring from 31 August 2019. Apply online here.
- Clients of the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS) affected by the bushfires may be eligible for additional travel and accommodation subsidies. Call the IPTAAS team on 1800 478 227 from Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, or email on IPTAAS@health.nsw.gov.au for assistance.
- The Australian Red Cross, Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul Society are offering a range of grants and financial support to people affected by the bushfires. Find more details including how to apply here.
- The Rapid Relief Team (RRT) is providing a $1000 Eftpos gift card, and a family food box for eligible individuals and families who have lost their home in the bushfires. Register online here.
- Commonwealth Bank customers, including businesses, impacted by bushfires are eligible for emergency assistance packages which can include emergency accommodation, expedited CommInsure claims, loans assistance and waived fees. Call 1300 720 814 for assistance.
- NAB customers who have lost their homes due to bushfires can apply for a $2000 grant. NAB business customers with significant damage to income-producing assets can also apply for a $2000 grant and other supports. Call 1300 683 106 for assistance.
- ANZ customers affected by bushfires are eligible for financial assistance packages which can include temporary suspension of loan repayments and interest rate relief, and emergency funds and accommodation for ANZ Home and Contents insurance customers. Call 1800 149 549 for assistance.
- Westpac customers affected by bushfires are eligible for disaster relief packages that can include grants up to $2000, deferring loan and credit repayments, and emergency funds and accommodation for Westpac Home and Contents insurance customers. For Westpac mortgage customers who have lost their principal place of residence, Westpac will pay the customer's mortgage repayments for one year (up to $1200 per month). Call 1800 067 497 for assistance.
- The Australian Taxation Office is deferring any tax lodgements or payments due for people impacted by the bushfires. People living in these postcodes are eligible for automatic deferral. Anyone else impacted can call the ATO Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218 for assistance.
- Revenue NSW can assist people impacted by the bushfires by placing a hold on all fines, debt and Work and Development Orders, waiving interest for tax debt, offering exemptions from payroll tax and providing refunds on motor vehicle duty for replacement vehicles. Call on 1300 138 118 for assistance and more information.
- The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) will be providing grants specifically for bushfire-affected communities from September 2020, out of their existing Strengthening Rural Communities grant program. Email email@example.com for assistance.
- The NSW Government has established the Bushfire Housing Assistance Service to support people who are temporarily or permanently displaced as a result of the bushfires. The service can help with sourcing housing, emergency accommodation, rental bonds, advance rent costs. Call the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444.
- Find-A-Bed is a service where households that can offer to host and people who need a place to stay can connect. People are matched based on their needs, including their pets. Find out more about how it works here.
- Renters have rights if their home is damaged by disaster. The Tenants Union have advice on disaster damage for renters here. Enter your postcode here to contact your local Tenants’ Advice & Advocacy Service for assistance.
- The Financial Rights Legal Centre have developed a bushfire insurance guide available here and can also provide advice through the Insurance Law Service. Call 1300 663 464 for assistance.
- icare has teams standing by to assist bushfire-impacted customers arrange alternative treatment and care where necessary. Call 13 99 22 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
- The Workers Compensation Independent Review Office (WIRO) will help workers unable to resolve an issue with their insurer. Call on 13 94 76 or email email@example.com for assistance.
- The NSW Government is coordinating the clean-up of both insured and uninsured residential and commercial properties affected by the bushfires. Property owners can register their details here. The Government is working through the eligibility criteria and will contact registrants when the specifics are finalised. If you are insured, also speak with your insurer.
- The Insurance Council of Australia is operating a 24-hour hotline to help people impacted by the bushfires with general information about claims and recovery. Call on 1800 734 621 for assistance.
- The Insurance Australia Group (IAG) are contacting their customers (including customers of NRMA, CGU, WFI, RACV) within impacted communities to offer emergency accommodation and financial assistance. Call IAG insurers for assistance:
- NRMA Insurance: 13 11 23
- CGU Insurance: 13 24 80
- WFI Insurance: 1300 251 527
- RACV Insurance: 13 72 28
Phone and mobile
- Telstra customers impacted by bushfires are eligible for relief packages which can include one-off phone credit and free diversion from an affected phone service to another service, regardless of carrier. Volunteer firefighters can also get their mobile phone bills waived for December 2019 and January 2020. Call 132 203 to register.
- Optus customers impacted by bushfires are eligible for financial assistance which can include free prepaid credit, bill waivers in extreme cases, and free diversion from an affected phone service to another service, regardless of carrier. Volunteer firefighters can also get their mobile phone bills waived for December 2019 and January 2020. Call 1300 301 671 to register.
- Vodafone customers who are volunteer firefighters can get their mobile phone bills waived for December 2019 and January 2020. Call 1300 650 410 to register.
Food and clothing
- The Australian Red Cross, Salvos, Vinnies, Foodbank and other community services are at evacuation centres across NSW offering food relief, clothing, household items and other support. See the list of evacuation centres here or call the Disaster Welfare Line on 1800 018 444.
- Dress for Success is sending out bushfire relief packages to women who are in need of clothing. The packs are tailored to each individual with correct sizing, work type, individual needs and lifestyle requirements. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a pack.
- Families and child care providers impacted by bushfires are eligible for assistance from the Australian Government, including mental health support, additional funding for child care providers and exemptions from any Child Care Subsidy (CCS) potential activity test debt for the 2019-20 financial year. More information here.
- People eligible for a Child Care Subsidy may be able to get an additional subsidy from the Australian Government. You can apply here.
Pets and livestock
- RSPCA NSW staff are at evacuation centres across NSW, helping people keep their pets and livestock safe. They are also delivering pet supplies to bushfire emergency relief centres. Request assistance here or call on 1300 278 3589 for more information.
- Animal safe places have been assessed by NSW Agriculture and Animal Services for safety and suitability for people who have no other arrangements in place and need to relocate their animals, including larger animals such as horses, cattle and sheep. Check the list of animal safe places here.
Mental health support
- People affected by bushfires can receive up to 10 free counselling sessions. Organise these through your closest recovery centre, mobile service centre or Primary Health Network.
- People affected by bushfires can receive Medicare rebates for up to 10 face-to-face or telehealth mental health treatment services through eligible GPs, psychologists, occupational therapists and social workers. You do not need a GP referral, diagnosed mental illness or mental health treatment plan to access these sessions. Rebates are available from 17 January 2020 to 31 December 2021.
- Advanced Personnel Management are offering free phone counselling to people affected by the bushfires. Call 1800 276 113.
- Mid North Coast and Northern NSW residents affected by bushfires can access free mental health support via the local Healthy Minds program. Call 1300 160 339 between 8.30am – 5pm Monday to Friday.
- The NSW Rural Adversity Mental Health Program links people to appropriate mental health support in their area. RAMHP Coordinators are currently working in bushfire zones to identify and link people in need of extra support. Scroll down to the postcode locator here to find contact details for a local RAMHP Coordinator.
- People wanting to access mental health services can call the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511.
- Beyond Blue has developed an online resource on looking after your mental health after a disaster.
- 2 December 2020 Update: Under the new Commonwealth funded Bushfire Legal Aid Scheme, small businesses and farmers with legal issues related to the 2019/2020 bushfires can apply through their lawyer for funding to assist with their legal costs.If you are an eligible small business or farmer, you can apply for funding of $2000 to assist you to resolve your legal matter, and up to $5000 for related expenses. Additional funding is available in reasonable circumstances.For information contact your local lawyer, call the Legal Aid NSW Disaster Response Legal Service on 1800 801 529 or email email@example.com
- Legal Aid NSW/LawAccess are operating a Disaster Recovery Hotline to offer free legal advice to people affected by the bushfires. Call 1800 801 529 for assistance.
- Community legal centres are operating on the ground in affected communities to provide generalist and specialist advice, including financial counselling and tenancy advice. As well as local services, specialist centres are providing legal help with a range of immediate issues relating to bushfire impacts, including insurance claims, tenancy, and social security. More information can be found here, and contact details for local centres in affected areas are below.
National Disability Insurance Scheme
- The NDIA website provides downloadable accessible and Easy Read Bushfire Information and Support resources and other information regarding access to NDIS in impacted areas.
Disaster response guidance
- This guide seeks to assist communities and community sector organisations to respond during the phases of emergency management: planning, response, relief and recovery, via the lessons learnt primarily in responding over years to the devastation and trauma of Black Saturday.
Bushfire recovery health information
- NSW Health has prepared advice on returning home safely, including handling waste, food, rainwater tanks and septic tanks.