Disaster assistance extended to Bellingen Shire

Disaster assistance has been extended to communities in the Bellingen local government area, as the Bee's Nest bushfire continues to burn.

The announcement was made today, adding Bellingen to the declaration made last weekend that covered Armidale, Clarence Valley, Glen Innes, Inverell, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha local government areas.

Assistance is being provided through joint federal-state Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

Assistance measures available under the DRFA may include:

  • help for eligible people whose homes or belongings have been damaged;
  • support for affected local councils to help with the costs of cleaning up and restoring damaged essential public assets;
  • concessional interest rate loans for small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations;
  • freight subsidies for primary producers, and
  • grants to eligible non-profit organisations.

Local Lands Services manager Paul Hutchings said their records showed that 123 rural properties of over 10 hectares had been affected by the Bees Nest fire so far, with 11 of them being within Bellingen Shire.

Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud said as these fires continue to burn, communities need to remain vigilant, well prepared and have a plan.

"The fires have burnt through thousands of hectares of land, causing major disruptions to nearby communities in Bellingen," Minister Littleproud said.

"The Commonwealth and New South Wales governments continue to work closely to ensure affected communities are getting the support they need.

"Funding is also available to support ongoing operational response activities."

The New South Wales Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said significant firefighting operations are ongoing to bring the fires under control.

"The Bee's Nest bushfire has burnt more than 74,000 hectares. Over the weekend, the fire expanded and impacted properties in western parts of Bellingen," Minister Elliott said.

"The bushfires are still out of control, and I would urge everyone in the vicinity of the bushfires to monitor the situation, and follow any advice that is given by the Rural Fire Service."

For information on personal hardship and distress assistance, contact the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444. To apply for a concessional loan, grant or freight subsidy, contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit http://www.raa.nsw.gov.au.

Further information on disaster assistance is available on the Australian Government's Disaster Assist website at disasterassist.gov.au and the NSW emergency information and response website at emergency.nsw.gov.au.

Natural Disaster Assistance Arrangements

The following loans and grants are available under the NSW Disaster Assistance Arrangements, in Local Government Areas (LGAs) that have been included in natural disaster declarations.

Individuals

The Office of Emergency Management may provide disaster relief grants to:

  • individuals and families whose homes and essential household items have been destroyed or damaged by a natural disaster;
  • who have limited financial resources; and
  • who have no insurance for essential household items and structural repairs to the home.

For more information go to Disaster Assistance for Individuals.

Primary Producers

Small Business

Councils

Sporting clubs

  • Loan assistance is available to sporting clubs for the restoration of essential facilities.
  • The NSW Rural Assistance Authority administers the loan component of the Scheme.
  • NSW Treasury administers the grant component of this scheme.
  • This finance is available to those unable to obtain assistance through normal channels;
  • Call (02) 9228 5062.

Churches and voluntary non-profit organisations

  • Loan assistance is available to churches and voluntary non-profit organisations for the restoration of essential facilities from The NSW Rural Assistance Authority.

Commonwealth and State Government arrangements

The schemes listed above are eligible for Australian Government financial assistance, usually by way of partial reimbursement of actual expenditure, under the joint Australian Government/NSW Government Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements/ Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

Motor Vehicle Stamp Duty Relief

  • Motorists whose cars have been written off as a result of a natural disaster may be eligible for a stamp duty refund on their replacement vehicle offered by The Office of State Revenue.

Insurance

Legal Assistance

  • Contact LawAccess NSW to discuss legal problems and what assistance may be available from Legal Aid NSW, Community Legal Centres and other free legal assistance services in your area;
  • Legal Aid NSW lawyers may be able to provide free legal advice to people affected by disasters on a range of issues including insurance, tenancy, credit and debt problems.