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Bushfire grants Q&A

This page gives you more information on Red Cross financial assistance for people affected by bushfires in Australia from July 2019.

Additional support grant

Applications for the November round of this grant have now closed. There will be a second, smaller round in February 2021.

Grants are open until 31 December 2020 for:

  • people whose primary place of residence was destroyed (emergency and re-establishment grants)
  • home owner occupiers who needed to make urgent repairs (repair grant)
  • people who were hospitalised for injuries in the fires (injury grant)

General questions

I have received a grant but the amount has been increased. Do I have to re-apply?
Further payments are now available for:

  • people who received the injury grant and have out-of-pocket medical costs that exceed $7,500 and are experiencing financial hardship
  • people who received the repair grant and have costs that exceed $5,000 and are experiencing financial hardship
  • home owner occupiers who received the re-establishment grant and are experiencing financial hardship.

We are contacting eligible recipients by email and SMS, with a special link to help them get the top-up payment quickly. If you have not heard from us, please contact us at 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276) or email us and we’ll send you the link to get your top-up payment.

The documents I need were lost in the fires. What do I do?
Please apply using what you have, and we’ll follow up to verify your details. If your documents were lost and can’t be replaced, please call us on 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276).

I don’t have much access to the internet. How can I apply?
Give us a call on 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276) to discuss your circumstances. We may be able to refer you to a recovery centre or Commonwealth Bank branch where you can get help to apply online, or we may be able to send a volunteer to help you. Please know this might take a little longer.

I’ve been unable to apply due to COVID-19 restrictions.
We know that many people may be unable to get to recovery centres or to friends and family who provide support for people to complete online applications or upload documents. If COVID-19 restrictions are impacting your ability to provide the required information for a grant, please contact us at 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276) and we can help.

Is there other financial assistance available?
Yes. The National Bushfire Recovery Agency can help you find grants available from government for individuals, families, small businesses and primary producers.

See below for the financial assistance that Red Cross can provide.

Emergency grant – $20,000

Who is this emergency grant for?
This Emergency Grant of up to $20,000 is for people whose primary place of residence has been destroyed or is permanently uninhabitable because of the bushfires.

Am I eligible for this grant?
You are eligible for an Emergency Grant if your primary place of residence has been destroyed or rendered permanently uninhabitable as a result of any bushfire since 1 July 2019.

Your primary place of residence can be your own house or one you rent, as long as you reside there on a permanent basis.

"Destroyed or permanently uninhabitable" means the home must be or has been demolished.

I’m renting a place that was destroyed by the bushfires. Can I get a grant?
Yes, if the property that was destroyed in bushfires since July 2019 was your primary place of residence. When you apply, you will need to provide evidence such as a utility bill with your name and the address of the property with your name on it.

I’ve lost a holiday house/investment property in the bushfires. Can I get a grant?
The grants are for people whose primary place of residence has been destroyed or rendered permanently uninhabitable (whether owned or rented) or structurally damaged (if owned). This is because we are trying to respond to the most urgent cases first. Other financial assistance may be available from government; visit www.disasterassist.gov.au to see what is available in your state.

How do I apply for a grant?
You can apply online with a few basic checks.

What documentation do I need to provide?
You will need scanned or photo evidence of the following:

  • Evidence of your identity, such as a driver licence or passport.
  • A bank statement or internet banking screenshot clearly showing your name, bank name, address, BSB and account details. We cannot accept handwritten notes or photos of bank cards.
  • Proof of residence, such as a recent utility bill.

My documents were lost/destroyed in the fire. Can I still apply?
Yes. Please apply using what you have, and we’ll follow up to verify your details. If your documents were lost and can’t be replaced, please call us at 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276).

Why do I need to provide documentation?
We appreciate that this is a stressful and upsetting time, and we’ve tried to make the process as quick and simple as possible. We’re getting many applications from bots and from overseas, so we have to be able to verify applications to make sure the money is getting to the right people.

We’re here to help. Please call 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 726) during business hours if your documents have been lost in the fires and can’t be replaced.

How soon do I need to apply?
Grants will be open until 30 September 2020.

How will you know if my home was destroyed in a bushfire?
We’re working with relevant state and territory governments to secure proof that a property was destroyed or rendered permanently uninhabitable as a result of Australian bushfires since July 2019.

How soon after I apply will you process the application? When will the grant be paid?
We’re working hard to process thousands of applications. Once we’ve verified your information and approved your application, the emergency grant will be paid by EFT within a week wherever possible.

Is the grant taxable?
The emergency grants are not taxable. We are using the generous donations of the Australian and international public to provide financial support.

Primary residence repair grant – up to $10,000

The Primary Residence Repair Grant of up to $10,000 per household is for home owners whose primary place of residence was structurally damaged by the fires, to make sure their home is safe to live in or return to.

From 12 March 2020, eligibility has been extended to include destruction or damage to critical private water, septic and/or power infrastructure attached to your primary place of residence and located on your property.

From 22 June 2020, the total amount available through this grant was increased from $5,000 to $10,000 for people continuing to experience financial hardship. We are contacting previous recipients to let them know they can apply for a $5,000 top-up payment.

Am I eligible for the primary residence repair grant?
You are eligible for a Primary Residence Repair Grant if you own a home that is your primary place of residence which has been structurally damaged by fire impacting on safe habitation, as a direct result of any bushfire from July 2019.

‘Structurally damaged’ means your residence must be directly impacted by fire damage (not smoke damage) since July 2019, impacting on safe habitation and requiring structural repairs (e.g. walls, ceiling, flooring, windows, roof repair).

From 12 March 2020, this includes repair or replacement of critical private infrastructure attached to your primary place of residence and located on your property.

For example, this includes repair or replacement of water or septic tanks, repair or replacement of generators, repairs to electrical wiring or fuse boxes which are attached to your primary place of residence and located on your property. You are eligible for this grant if this infrastructure requires essential repair as a result of bushfires since July 2019 to make your primary place of residence safe to live in or return to.

I already received the emergency grant because my home was destroyed. Can I also get the repair grant?
No. If you have already received the emergency grant for a property that has been destroyed or made permanently uninhabitable, you are ineligible for the repair grant.

How do I apply for a grant?
You can apply online with a few basic checks.

What documentation do I need to provide? 
You will need scanned or photo evidence of the following:

  • Evidence of your identity, such as a driver licence or passport.
  • A bank statement or internet banking screenshot clearly showing your name, bank name, address, BSB and account details. We cannot accept handwritten notes or photos of bank cards.
  • Proof of home ownership, such as rates notice, loan document or title.

My documents were lost/destroyed in the fire. Can I still apply? 
Yes. Please apply using what you have, and we’ll follow up to verify your details. If your documents were lost and can’t be replaced, please call us at 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276). 

Why do I need to provide documentation? 
We appreciate that this is a stressful and upsetting time, and we’ve tried to make the process as quick and simple as possible. We’re getting many applications from bots and from overseas, so we have to be able to verify applications to make sure the money is getting to the right people.

We’re here to help. Please call 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 726) during business hours if your documents have been lost in the fires and can’t be replaced. 

How soon do I need to apply? 
Grants will be open until 30 September 2020.

How will you know if my home has been structurally damaged or that I’ve suffered damage or destruction of critical infrastructure attached to my home?
We are using a variety of data sources to verify that your primary place of residence has been directly impacted by bushfires from July 2019 but in some instances may need to visit or ask you to provide photo evidence. You will need to give your permission for Red Cross personnel to visit your property to validate your application.

How soon after I apply will you process the application? When will the grant be paid?
We’re working hard to process thousands of applications. Once we’ve verified your information and approved your application, the emergency grant will be paid by EFT within a week wherever possible.

Is the grant taxable?
The repair grants are not taxable. We are using the generous donations of the Australian and international public to provide financial support.

Injury grant – $7,500 or $15,000

Who is the injury grant for?
The Injury Grant is a payment of $7,500 or $15,000 for people who have spent two days or more in hospital as a result of physical injuries or mental health issues directly caused by the bushfires since July 2019 and who are experiencing financial hardship. The hospital admission needs to have occurred within two weeks of a bushfire affecting your area.

From 29 June 2020, the total amount available through this grant has been increased to $15,000. The full amount of $15,000 is available to eligible applicants whose out-of-pocket medical costs exceed or are likely to exceed $7,500.

Am I eligible for the injury grant?
You are eligible for an Injury Grant if you have suffered physical or mental health injuries directly caused by a bushfire from July 2019 for which you were admitted to hospital for two days or more.

The hospital admission needs to have occurred within two weeks of a bushfire affecting your area.

We want to make the process as simple as possible. We’ll ask you to provide evidence of your identity, evidence of hospital admission and discharge and details for a financial transfer (a recent bank statement showing BSB and account details).  You will need to upload medical documents that confirm the cause of your injuries and the length of your stay in hospital. This is so we can validate your eligibility for this grant.

This grant is currently available across Australia.

What is the injury grant for?
This grant will cover of out-of-pocket medical costs such as medicine or medical equipment, medical treatment not covered by Medicare or insurance, transport to medical appointments or costs of carers who provide medical assistance related to the bushfire injury.

I’ve been hospitalised for a physical injury/mental health issue in the last few months but it was because of the bushfires. How can I get support?
The injury grant is for people who were hospitalised within two weeks of a bushfire affecting their area. But we encourage you to contact our bushfire grants team by email or by calling 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276) during business hours. They’d be happy to talk to you and work out how best to help.

I am not in a bushfire affected area, but I was ill/injured because of the smoke haze. Am I eligible?
You are not eligible unless you received injuries and were hospitalised for two or more days as a direct result of bushfires from July 2019. This grant is not provided for people who suffered asthma or respiratory issues due to smoke haze or air conditions in non-bushfire affected areas.

How do I apply for a grant?
You can apply online with a few basic checks.

What documentation do I need to provide?
You will need scanned or photo evidence of the following:

  • Evidence of your identity, such as a driver licence or passport.
  • A bank statement or internet banking screenshot clearly showing your name, bank name, address, BSB and account details. We cannot accept handwritten notes or photos of bank cards.
  • Evidence of hospital admission and discharge that confirms the cause of your injuries and the length of your stay in hospital

My documents were lost/destroyed in the fire. Can I still apply?
Yes. Please apply using what you have, and we’ll follow up to verify your details. If your documents were lost and can’t be replaced, please call us at 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276).

Why do I need to provide documentation?
We appreciate that this is a stressful and upsetting time, and we’ve tried to make the process as quick and simple as possible. We’re getting many applications from bots and from overseas, so we have to be able to verify applications to make sure the money is getting to the right people.

We’re here to help. Please call 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 726) during business hours if your documents have been lost in the fires and can’t be replaced.

How soon do I need to apply?
Grants will be open until 30 September 2020.

How will you know I was injured as a direct result of a bushfire?
You will need to provide evidence of your hospital admission and discharge. We will also be using a variety of data sources to verify that you were in a bushfire affected area, hospital admission/discharge records and doctors’ certificates to check your eligibility.

How soon after I apply will you process the application? When will the grant be paid?
We’re working hard to process thousands of applications. Once we’ve verified your information and approved your application, the emergency grant will be paid by EFT within a week wherever possible.

Is the grant taxable?
The injury grant payment is not taxable. We are using the generous donations of the Australian and international public to provide financial support.

Re-establishment grant – $10,000-$40,000

Who’s eligible for the re-establishment grant?
People whose primary place of residence was destroyed or rendered permanently uninhabitable by a bushfire from July 2019. Your ‘primary place of residence’ could be a house, a non-permanent structure such as a mobile home or a caravan, you could have owned it or rented it, as long as it was where you lived.

You also need to be seeking to re-establish housing or living arrangements, have faced financial hardship as a result of the bushfires and continue to face financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How much is available?
A total of $40,000 per household is available for home owner-occupiers whose primary place of residence was destroyed, and who are still experiencing financial hardship. This has increased from a former total of $30,000.

$10,000 per household is available for people who were renting a home that was destroyed and people whose primary place of residence was a caravan or mobile home that was destroyed.

What can the re-establishment grant help me with?
It can help you re-establish your primary place of residence if it was destroyed in the bushfires. That can be in the same location or somewhere else. It can help you rent or buy another home. It can help you purchase a caravan or mobile home to live in, with interim housing options if you choose, or help you move into a nursing home or retirement home.

I have already received a payment through this grant. Am I eligible for more?
From 22 June, an extra $10,000 top-up payment is available to home owner-occupiers who are continuing to experience financial hardship (taking the total amount available to $40,000). We are contacting previous recipients who are eligible to let them know. If you are a home owner-occupier and haven’t heard from us, please email us or call 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276).

Please note, the top up is only available to home owner-occupiers.

How do I apply for this grant?
You can apply at redcross.org.au/grants. We’re working to make the process as simple as possible for people. If you can’t get access to apply online, please call our grants team on 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276) and we’ll do our best to help.

I have not yet applied for a grant. What documentation do I need to provide?
If you haven’t previously received a Red Cross grant, you will be asked to provide an upload of the following documents: evidence of your identity (such as a driver licence), proof of residence (like a utility bill), proof of home ownership (like a loan statement or rates notice) and details for a financial transfer (a recent bank statement showing BSB and account details).

My documents were lost/destroyed in the fire. Can I still apply?
Yes. Please apply using what you have, and we’ll follow up to verify your details. If your documents were lost and can’t be replaced, please call us at 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276).

Why do I need to provide documentation?
We appreciate that this is a stressful and upsetting time, and we’ve tried to make the process as quick and simple as possible. We’re getting many applications from bots and from overseas, so we have to be able to verify applications to make sure the money is getting to the right people.

We’re here to help. Please call 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 726) during business hours if your documents have been lost in the fires and can’t be replaced.

I’ve received a previous payment through this grant. Do I have to re-apply for a top-up?
We’ve sent an email and SMS with a special link to everyone who is eligible for a second top-up. If you don’t have it, please call 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276) or email us and we’ll send it to you. You won’t need to re-submit documents you’ve already sent us.

How will you know if my home was destroyed in a bushfire?
For new applications, we check the address in your application against records of fire damage provided by government and fire services. If your address is not in these records, we may need to do a visual inspection.

Through the application process, you will also be asked to declare that:

  • your documents are true and correct
  • your primary place of residence was destroyed or rendered permanently uninhabitable as a result of bushfires from July 2019
  • you are experiencing continued financial hardship as a result of bushfires from July 2019
  • you agree to Red Cross personnel or an authorised representative visiting your property to validate your eligibility for this grant, should it be necessary.

How soon after I apply will you process the application? When will the grant be paid?
Once we’ve verified your information and approved your application, the emergency grant will be paid by EFT within days wherever possible.

I’m eligible for a top-up payment. How do I get it?
We’re contacting owner occupiers who have previously received the grant, to let them know they are eligible for a second top-up payment of $10,000. If you have not received a message from us, please email us or call 1800 RED CROSS (1800 722 276). 

Please note, the second top up is only available to home owner-occupiers.

Is the grant taxable?
The re-establishment grants are not taxable. We are using the generous donations of the Australian and international public to provide financial support.

Additional support grant

What is the additional support grant?
This grant is for people who have received a Red Cross bushfire grant previously, and who are on a low income and experiencing ongoing financial hardship.

Who can apply for the grant?
You can apply if you:

  • have received one of our previous bushfire grants, and
  • are receiving government assistance that demonstrates low income (i.e. a health care, pensioner or disability card), and
  • are still in financial hardship.

What can the grant be used for?
The grant can help with a range of costs related to the bushfires. These could be:

  • additional rebuilding or re-establishment costs
  • basic necessities like groceries, utility bills or school fees
  • further repairs to make homes safe to live in 
  • clearing unsafe and bushfire-damaged trees on your property
  • ongoing out-of-pocket medical costs
  • other costs related to individual circumstances due to the bushfires.

Because of our legal and charity status, we cannot provide funds for business expenses such as farm fences or outbuildings, farming equipment or stock losses, replacing tools of trade, or for investment properties and holiday homes.

What information do I have to provide?
Because you have already received a Red Cross grant, we will only ask you to:

  • declare ongoing financial hardship
  • provide evidence that you received specific government assistance (such as a health care, disability or pensioner card)
  • tell us how much you need, and what for, so we can disburse funds in line with our obligations under Australian charity law.

Why do I need to show I am receiving government assistance?
Health care cards, pensioner cards, disability cards and other types of government support cards are issued to people who are on a low income and may face additional challenges. Because we have to prioritise people based on need, and support those who may find it hardest to recover, we are asking for these cards as evidence in your application.

What should I put in my application to ensure it is accepted?
Just tell us how much you need, and what for. We will do our best to help everyone who is eligible, even if limited funds mean we sometimes can’t provide the full amount.

Why does the Additional Support Grant have a deadline?
Our funds are running out, and we need to make equitable payments with the amount we have left. The fairest option was to give people a set period to apply, review all applications, and allocate payments according to need.

What if I can’t apply before the deadline?
Get in touch with our bushfire grants team at 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276) or email us. We will do our best to support you. There will be a second, smaller round of applications in February 2021.

How much does the grant provide?
Many people are seeking additional financial assistance and the funds we have left are limited. The amount we can pay to each eligible applicant will be determined by their identified needs and situation, and the funds we have remaining. We will ask you to estimate what you need, and make a payment to assist with those needs, where we can. 

Why does the grant pay different amounts to different people?
In the past, we’ve capped our grants based on broad categories, such as the loss of a home. But remaining funds are beginning to run out, so we’re asking applicants for the additional support grant to let us know what they need funds for.  We will try to support the particular needs identified by applicants. This will be affected by the number of people who apply.

When do I find out the result of my application?
We will inform eligible applicants and make payments by mid-December, before Christmas. Once applications close on 27 November, we will assess them all and allocate payments to eligible people, depending on what they need and the total amount available.

Our team may contact you if they need more information about your application, or if you haven’t been able to upload relevant documents. We will also let you know if you haven’t met the eligibility criteria for this round, and help you find other support services.

Is the grant taxable?
The additional support grant is not taxable. We are using the generous donations of the Australian and international public to provide financial support.

Your privacy

Your personal information is protected by law. We are collecting it so we can verify your identity and process your application for a grant, respond to your enquiries or provide you with information about relevant services and support. For more information you can read our privacy collection notice.