Council eligible for bushfire recovery support funding

Photo: Sharon Ford, Telegraph Point.
Photo: Sharon Ford, Telegraph Point.

Federal funding grants of $1 million to be paid to MidCoast Council, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and Kempsey Council as part of the Natural Disaster Category "C" declaration will further support the bushfire recovery effort, according to Federal Member for Lyne Dr David Gillespie.

Dr Gillespie said since the Prime Minister's visit to the region late last year when the bushfires across the region were at their worst, a significant recovery effort had begun with ongoing announcements of support from local, state and federal government, along with support from non-government organisations.

"There a fires still burning, and there are many other areas across Australia experiencing very similar, and in some cases, much more devastating situations than our region," Dr Gillespie said.

"I have spoken to a significant number of people in our community affected by the bushfires since September and I have been continuing to advocate across all levels of government, and even with the insurance companies, to ensure we continue to secure as much support to help us get back on our feet.

"At the time of the fires, the Prime Minister announced the Australian Defence Force would provide logistical and other assistance to the firefighting operations and offered further support to the Premier," Dr Gillespie said.

All funds will be drawn from the $2 billion allocated to the National Bushfire Recovery Agency and this is in addition to funding that is automatically available to councils through other disaster recovery arrangements.

The lump sum payments will be delivered by the Commonwealth by the close of business tomorrow to State Governments who administer payments to councils.

The only condition placed on councils is that they develop a program of works within three months and report back to the Commonwealth in 12 months' time.

Councils will be able to spend their $1 million payments on projects and activities that they deem essential for the recovery and renewal of their communities, including:

  • Rebuilding damaged or destroyed council assets such as key local roads, bridges, and community facilities;
  • Employing additional local staff to take on specialist recovery or planning roles to help coordinate and plan the rebuilding effort;
  • Hosting new public activities and events to bring communities together and attract visitors back to affected regions; and
  • Immediate maintenance and repairs to relief and evacuation centres.

Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments have also been made available with $1000 for eligible adults and $400 for eligible children.

Volunteer firefighters will also receive financial support from the Federal Coalition Government for loss of income, where they have been called out for extended periods of service.

Rural Fire Service Volunteers in NSW who are self-employed or work for small and medium businesses, and who have been called out for more than 10 days this fire season, will be able to apply for the payments.

The payments will provide for lost income of up to $300 per day up to a total of up to $6,000 per person.

These payments are tax free and will not be means-tested, but are targeted to those most likely to suffer lost income by volunteering for extended periods of time.

For most, this will represent the equivalent of at least 20 days' emergency leave for employees of small and medium sized businesses and volunteers who are self employed.