Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services

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

3 February 2020

The Hon Stuart Robert MP

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services
  • Over $88 million provided in Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance to declared Local Government Areas with more than 75,000 claims processed since 16 September 2019.
  • More than $13 million in additional payments have been paid to eligible families affected by the bushfires.
  • Changes to Disaster Recovery Allowance to ensure more Australians affected are able to access financial assistance for significant income loss.
  • Mobile Service Teams and Mobile Service Centres will be in affected bushfire regions this week.
  • Fastest way to claim disaster payments is to call 180 22 66.

Help is now available for more people who lost income as a direct result of the bushfires thanks to changes to the Disaster Recovery Allowance.

Changes include income being assessed individually, meaning members of a couple can both receive the payment, and an increase to the income cut-off to the equivalent of the full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings.

Anyone who received Disaster Recovery Allowance between 1 July 2019 and 18 January 2020 will have their claim automatically reassessed.

Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert said the changes means more Australians will become eligible for this assistance.

‘We recognise that many people in bushfire affected regions have lost income at what for some is their busiest time of the year,” Minister Robert said.

‘We are now reassessing claims under the new rules and if this means you’re eligible for more money, we’ll automatically pay the difference into your bank account. People don’t need to do anything.

‘This is on top of the 34,000 extra payments, worth more than $13 million, delivered to families with children in bushfire affected regions since the additional payments were activated on Monday 20 January.’

Services Australia’s Mobile Service Teams (MSTs) and Mobile Service Centres (MSCs) are continuing to provide on-site support to bushfire affected communities in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

As at 29 January, there have been 379 deployments of MSTs and MSCs in bushfire affected communities in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia.

In the past two weeks the two Mobile Service Centres have provided compassionate guidance and support to more than 1,500 people and the Mobile Service Teams have also assisted more than 3,700 people.

The Services Australia disaster hotline (180 22 66) continues to deliver immediate disaster payments to impacted people and is the fastest way to claim assistance.

Staff on the hotline have answered over 135,000 calls and processed over 75,000 claims for disaster payments. The hotline is open from 8am to 8pm local time Monday to Friday and 8am to 5pm on weekends (local time).

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

All Centrelink service centres are open today (3 February 2020). Check for closures at findus.servicesaustralia.gov.au

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

Page last updated: 3 February 2020