Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services

Media release: Update on Australian Government support for bushfire affected regions

20 January 2020

The Hon Stuart Robert MP

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services

The Hon David Littleproud MP

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management
  • Additional $400 per child where Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP) has been paid for the child for the bushfire disaster starts this week.
  • Services Australia staff have deployed with ADF to bushfire affected communities in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
  • 162 deployments of Mobile Service Teams and Mobile Service Centres so far.
  • Fastest way to claim disaster payments is to call 180 22 66.
  • Over $57 million provided in Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance to declared Local Government Areas with more than 48,000 claims processed since 16 September 2019.

From today, the Australian Government will deliver an extra $400 to families for each child aged under 16 that is eligible for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP). This is in addition to the AGDRP and is not subject to income tax.

The additional payment will start for eligible new applicants as of today, and families with children who have already received the AGDRP need not re-apply, their additional payment will follow over the course of next week.

The government is providing additional funds for the families of over 22,000 children affected by bushfires and already receiving the AGDRP. This funding is uncapped to meet the needs of more families who may be eligible for the AGDRP.

To facilitate the AGDRP payment, along with other essential government services and relief support, Services Australia has mobilised and rapidly deployed Mobile Service Teams (MSTs) and Mobile Service Centres (MSCs) into bushfire affected communities.

As at 15 January, there have been 162 deployments of MSTs and MSCs in bushfire affected communities in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

The MSTs, equipped with technology to provide immediate on-the-ground assistance, have so far helped a number of communities in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Some teams have been joined by staff from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) to provide specialised support.

These smaller teams complement the deployment of the MSCs which are equipped with the same technology as any Centrelink or Medicare Service Centre. This week the MSCs deployed to bushfire affected communities including Ulladulla, Lake Conjola, Moruya, Malua Bay and Mogo in New South Wales, and Bairnsdale, Buchan and Orbost, in Victoria. MSC staff offer services involving Payments, Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support. Social workers are also on board and can support people with short term counselling and referrals to support services.

This on the ground support comes as the Disaster Payments hotline 180 22 66 continues to deliver immediate disaster payments to impacted Australians with over $57 million provided in Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments (AGDRP) and Disaster Recovery Allowance (DRA) to declared Local Government Areas. Staff have answered over 91,000 calls and processed over 48,000 claims for disaster payments.

Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said the Australian Government assistance payments are about ensuring those who need immediate relief for essential items can receive it quickly.

‘Payments are getting to people who need help now and the additional $400 per child will go to helping families who need that extra support in preparing for the new school year,’ Minister Littleproud said.

‘The funding for these payments remain uncapped and we’ll do whatever it takes to ensure people affected by the bushfires receive support.’

Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert said the mobile teams have already helped hundreds of people affected by the bushfires in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

‘Services Australia teams are on the ground alongside ADF and state colleagues providing face to face assistance to those who need it most,’ Mr Robert said.

‘In the past week the two Mobile Service Centres have provided compassionate guidance and support to more than 600 people and the Mobile Service Teams have also assisted more than 1300 people.’

Operation of MSTs and MSCs remain subject to ongoing assessment of conditions–stay up to date with service changes at: humanservices.gov.au/disaster

All Centrelink service centres are open today (20 January 2020) however some Agent sites are still unable to open at this stage – check for closures at findus.humanservices.gov.au

For more information on support available go to humanservices.gov.au/disaster

 

Page last updated: 20 January 2020