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Additional financial support for bushfire survivors ahead of Christmas

23/12/2020

Australian Red Cross has disbursed another $17.5 million in grants to survivors of last summer’s bushfires. This comes as over 1,700 people came to Red Cross, for the first time, for help since June.

Funding was transferred to grant recipients at the end of last week. An additional $24 million is available for final grant payments and unmet needs within bushfire-affected bushfire-affected communities, with most of these funds expected to be spent in early 2021.

Australian Red Cross Director Australian Programs Noel Clement says thousands of people caught up in the summer bushfires have received support, because of the generosity of Australians and help of Red Cross volunteers.

“As of today 5,808 people have received one or more grants, 1,891 have received additional support grants this week and 17,314 people have accessed help through our ongoing recovery program. 

“The scale of this disaster meant that some survivors weren’t ready to apply until now. Around 1,739 people have come forward for the first time since June alone. We’re honoured to be able to assist where we are needed, so that the generous donations of Australians go where intended.

“This week we are pleased to offer those in financial hardship up to $10,000 in additional support grants, as many are still coping with magnitude of their losses. A second smaller round of the Additional Support Grant will open in February for those who really weren’t ready to apply in this round.

“Community members have told us that their Red Cross grants have helped them find somewhere safe to live, make urgent repairs to their homes or meet medical expenses,” said Mr. Clement.

Red Cross has now disbursed or spent $201m of the donated $240m since the bushfires. The remaining $39m will be spent on further financial support and long term recovery work: $15m to continue the community recovery program and $24m for final grant payments and to meet unmet needs within bushfire-affected communities, with most of these funds expected to be spent in early 2021.

Even when the last grant is disbursed, Red Cross is committed to continuing its recovery program, already serving 46 local government areas in four states, for at least two more years to come.

“With disasters of this magnitude, immediate assistance is absolutely critical as is support for the long term recovery.

“It’s been a year since the peak of the fires, and we know many have been unable to begin rebuilding their homes and are doing their best to cope with consecutive crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Red Cross is there for them with a long term recovery program. Already we have reached around 17,000 people in 46 local government areas helping communities lead their own recovery.

“Our trained recovery teams will be there for two more years providing psychosocial support and working alongside grassroots organisations, whether that be marking anniversary events or running information sessions with disaster experts,” Mr. Clement said.

To apply for a Red Cross grant visit redcross.org.au/grants or call 1800 RED CROSS 1800 733 276 and to find out more redcross.org.au/bushfirereport.

For media queries contact  media@redcross.org.au or 1800 733 443.