Two years after the horrific bushfires of the summer of 2019/20, Red Cross has released its latest report on its bushfire fund, showing $205 million has been distributed in grants to 6,131 people affected by the fires.
Some 96% of the $242 million raised has been disbursed or spent.
Red Cross National Recovery Coordinator Shona Whitton said thanks to the incredible generosity of people in Australia and around the world, Red Cross saw an outpouring of support for people caught up in the fires, which burned more than 18 million hectares, caused 34 deaths and destroyed over 5,900 buildings including 2,779 homes.
“As we’ve learned over successive disasters it was important that we allocated funds for immediate response and for the longer-term recovery, and as expected many people did not come forward for help until well after the fires.
“We started providing grants within a few days of the fires at New Year’s Eve to meet immediate needs and we continued providing grants to respond to needs as they emerged and also for longer term support and recovery,” Ms Whitton said.
“We have continued to offer support as people need it. We have been there when impacted and traumatised people and communities have been ready, be that for help with immediate needs or as people start to rebuild and recover.
“Disaster recovery is complex, and there are many reasons why people don’t all seek assistance immediately. Many people think initially they’ll cope without financial help, some are too traumatised and others believe their neighbours are worse off and more deserving. Over 40% of grant recipients applied after June 2020, at least six months after the fires and 245 people came forward in financial need for the first time more than one year after the fires.”
Ms Whitton said essential administrative support costs were kept to less than 5%.
She also thanked the independent Advisory Panel of experts who volunteered their time to inform and guide decisions on using the funds. Red Cross has been consistently reporting publically on the fund, with the latest full report available at redcross.org.au/bushfirereport.