13 February 2020
This summer we’ve seen devastating bushfires and incredible generosity in response.
To date, $140 million has been donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery fund, the vast majority of which was donated since 1 January 2020.
More than $32 million has already been paid in emergency grants so far. On 29 January, our voluntary advisory panel met to help us make decisions on how best to use the remaining funds to support Australians affected by the bushfires. The group will meet next Wednesday, 19 February, to agree on further funds allocation.
This is our plan.
It will continue to evolve as needs arise. It is part of a bigger effort by government and other agencies, to make sure collective funds do the most good.
$5 million is providing on-the-ground disaster services.
This enables Red Cross emergency teams to provide 24/7 support in the current bushfires and disasters in the months ahead, with this mainly being in bushfire-affected areas over recent months. It includes our work in evacuation and recovery centres, outreach services, deploying our volunteers and ensuring their training and wellbeing.
$61.5 million is now helping people meet immediate needs.
More than a million dollars is going out each day, as emergency grants to people whose homes were destroyed or rendered permanently uninhabitable.
People are applying for these grants on our website, with a few basic checks. Our volunteers are also using iPads to help those without internet access to apply.
We are now making a further $10,000 available to people who have received the emergency grant and need more help; a total of $20,000 per household if they need further financial support.
We are also providing a bereavement payment of $20,000 to the identified next of kin of people who have died in the fires. We are working with state coroners to get in touch with eligible people.
Thanks to the ongoing generosity of the Australian community, we have now announced additional immediate financial assistance.
$500,000 will support people who were hospitalised for injuries as a result of the fires.
This will be provided as a one-off $7,500 grant to people who were hospitalised as the result of physical injuries or mental health issues caused by the fires. It will help with out-of-pocket expenses.
$10 million will support people whose homes were structurally damaged by the fires.
Many people’s primary place of residence is still standing, but may require structural repairs to make it safe to live in. They can apply for grants of $5,000 per household to help with urgent repairs such as walls, ceilings, floors or windows.
$55.5 million will be allocated to further immediate and longer-term assistance.
Our experience in every disaster shows that new needs will emerge with time. We will continue to announce further bushfire assistance as people start to rebuild in their communities.
$18 million will enable a tailored, minimum three-year community recovery program.
Our experience from a century of disaster responses, including the Black Saturday Fires of 2009, is that recovery takes time and community recovery is critical.
The right support can go a long way. That includes having someone to talk to, trauma counselling and mental health support, good social networks, access to good information and services, and a connection to community.
Our recovery program will address these things in ways that are unique to each community. It will run for three years or more. It will be informed by needs assessments, be done in coordination with communities, government and service providers, and be implemented by dedicated key staff and volunteers.
We will keep you informed of our plans and spending at every step.
We are using this money with integrity and we’ll show you how and why we’re using it. We want you to see your generosity at work. Above all, we want it to make a genuine difference to the recovery of those impacted by the bushfires.