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Australian bushfires: how we’re using funds

Our plan to help people and communities recover well.

Updated 31 March 2020

How your donation is making a difference

Funds raised since July 2019: $180 million

On-the-ground disaster services

$5m for 24/7 support including evacuations, relief centres and outreach services (for this financial year)

Immediate assistance grants

$50m to support people whose homes were destroyed  

$20m to help homeowners make urgent repairs 

$1.5m for bereavement payments  

$2m to support people hospitalised for injuries as a result of the fires 

Mid-to-long-term support

$70m to help people facing financial hardship to rebuild their destroyed homes  

$18m to support community recovery for 3 years or more  

$13.5m to be allocated to further unmet needs as they arise 

Up to 10c in each dollar will be spent on admin support costs, and we’re working to keep it as low as possible.

This summer we’ve seen unprecedented bushfires and unprecedented generosity in response.

To date, $180 million has been donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery fund, with over $172 million being donated after 1 January 2020.   

More than 2,780 Australians have received a Red Cross bushfire grant to date, totalling more than $50 million. More than a million dollars has been going out each day in payments.  

Our voluntary advisory panel meets regularly to help us make decisions on the use of funds to support Australians affected by the bushfires.

Our plan continues to evolve.
We adapt based on what affected communities tell us they need, how government and other agencies are helping, and on analysis from the field.  

$5 million is providing on-the-ground disaster services for this financial year.
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.

$73.5 million is now helping people meet immediate needs.
More than a million dollars has been going out each day, as emergency grants to people whose homes were destroyed or rendered permanently uninhabitable.

Applications continue to come in from our website, and our volunteers continue to try to reach those who don’t have internet access to help them apply.  

This amount includes:

• $50 million to support people whose homes were destroyed
We have made 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.

• $20 million to help homeowners make urgent repairs  
Many people’s primary place of residence is still standing, but may require structural repairs to make it safe to live in. Grants of $5,000 per household are helping homeowners with urgent repairs.

• $1.5 million for bereavement payments 
We are providing a bereavement payment of $20,000 to the identified senior next of kin of people who have died in the fires. All eligible senior next-of-kin who have requested the payment have received it.

• $2 million to support people who were hospitalised for injuries as a result of the fires  
This is provided as a one-off $7,500 grant to people who spent two or more days in hospital as the result of physical injuries or mental health issues caused by the fires. It will help with out-of-pocket expenses.

We are also allocating funds to support people in the mid-to-longer term.

$70 million will help people rebuild destroyed homes.
We’re providing $20,000 grants to home owner-occupiers to help with the early stages of rebuild planning. This includes things like building plans, council fees and safety assessments. We anticipate providing further support for rebuilding beyond this grant, focussing on people experiencing additional financial hardship.

$13.5 million will be allocated to unmet needs as they emerge.
We continue to provide further assistance as needs arise. This will include support for those identified as facing financial hardship by government services, and others whose needs are not being met through existing grants schemes from government and other service providers.  

$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.

COVID-19 and our response
We’re still paying grants every day, working remotely. We’re also providing psychological first aid and other support by phone. And while we’re no longer able to do outreach, we encourage people to contact us on 1800 733 276 if they are having difficulties completing their application due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Questions and answers

Why is your recovery plan for three years or more?
It takes time to recover from these fires: physically, mentally and financially. Right now, people who have lost their homes need somewhere to stay and help with immediate living costs. Our initial grants help them do that. Three months in, the bills might start to accumulate. In six months, they may begin rebuilding. A year from now, the trauma may start to sink in. We want to be there at every step of the way to help – whether with immediate financial assistance as we’re doing now, support with mental wellbeing, access to services or whatever people need.

How much is going to administration support costs?
Up to 10 cents in each dollar will go towards the real and necessary costs of our response. This helps us get emergency grants to people quickly and securely, prevent fraud, collect and analyse information, and comply with the legal obligations of handling funds. Every agency has these costs, which are sometimes covered by government or corporate donors.

We are committed to keeping these costs as low as possible, and we’ve had many organisations providing their help for free, for which we’re grateful.

Are you keeping the money for other disasters?
We will spend $5 million in FY19/20 to have our teams on the ground ready to respond to bushfires and Australian disasters this year. This allows us to provide 24/7 support, including evacuations, relief centres, deploying our emergency teams, training and wellbeing.

All the remaining funds raised to our Disaster Relief and Recovery fund during this bushfire crisis are going to support our bushfire response, including the immediate assistance and longer-term recovery programs we will deliver with communities.

How will you keep people informed?
We will provide updates on our website. This page will also be updated as we progress.

Apply for an emergency grant

See what grants are available.

What we’re doing now

Regular updates from our emergency teams.

Beyond Bushfires report

What we know about recovery from the 2009 Victorian Bushfires