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Our bushfire response: 12 months on

Key points from the report.

Correct as at 14 January 2021

This is a summary of our work to support communities during and after the bushfires over the past 12 months; with endless gratitude to the people and partners for making it happen.

Our deepest respect to all those who endured the bushfires, who bore their losses with a strength that humbled us, who protected and cared for each other and face the task of rebuilding their lives – you have shown the power of humanity in the face of disaster.

Read our full report at redcross.org.au/bushfirereport.

Gratitude to our staff, members and volunteers

Thank you. Your support has focused on the people and communities impacted by the bushfires. We are there helping people to adapt, prepare, recover and build resilience down the long road to recovery. Volunteer teams travelled within and across states, on almost continuous rotation, to provide support as fires raged through communities. Thank you for everything you have done to support those affected by last summer’s bushfires. The volunteers, members and staff who worked night and day since the fires began – you have shown what humanitarians can do.

Top things to know

How many people did we support during evacuations?
49,718 people supported through the fires during evacuations, in relief centres and in fire-affected towns.

How many people did we support through bushfire grants?
5,914 people received bushfire grants ($187m) to meet immediate needs, make repairs, cover funeral or hospital costs, re-establish a safe place to live or get additional support.

How many people did we support through our recovery program?
21,563 people supported through our recovery program in 46 local government areas with information, connection to services and psychosocial support.

How much financial assistance have we distributed?
$207m disbursed or spent in 2020. Total $240m donated.

How did we use donated funds?
96% donations directly funded help to people through financial assistance, our emergency teams who provide support in evacuation centres, accommodation pods a three-year recovery program.

4% donations funded essential administrative costs to do this work. The majority of this is the cost of our finance assistance team. The rest covers the costs of IT systems, fraud prevention and our fundraising, bank and platform fees.

Figures correct at 14 January 2020.

How has our response to the bushfires performed according to independent reviews?
Our response to the bushfires was independently reviewed by the Australian Charities and Non-Profit Commission (ACNC) and also by the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements established by the Commonwealth Government, to gather evidence on the overall coordination and management of disasters and how to mitigate their impact.

The ACNC found that Red Cross had allocated all donations received during the bushfires to bushfire-related activities and costs required to deliver them; that it had appropriate skills and expertise to deliver its programs; that it regularly released information to the public; and that it had sound fraud detection practices in place, enabling it to identify suspicious applications for grants.

The full ACNC report is available at acnc.gov.au and the Royal Commission report is available at naturaldisaster.royalcommission.gov.au respectively.

Full details are in our report at redcross.org.au/bushfirereport.

Gratitude to our supporters overseas and at home

A list of our top financial donors and partners is in the full report.

Our endless gratitude to all those who donated with a generosity we did not expect; who gave up their pocket money or went without to help others; who ran marathons and auctioned precious items and held pub quizzes; who gave their time, energy and expertise to help bring comfort and hope. You have shown no crisis is too big to make a difference.

Read more at redcross.org.au/bushfirereport.

The road to recovery

Recovery is a journey measured in years, not weeks or months.
It goes beyond finances or rebuilding, and includes people’s sense of hope and self-worth, family security and community cohesion. This diagram below describes the recovery process. Bushfire-affected communities are still navigating a painful path through exhaustion, delays and obstacles, hindered even further by the global pandemic.

This is why our recovery program will run to 2022 and beyond.
We aim to help individuals cope with trauma and access support; communities to heal and strengthen their connections; and service providers to meet the unique needs of bushfire survivors. We have a recovery footprint in 46 local government areas, with recovery officers living and working in bushfire-affected communities.

Our bushfire recovery program will continue to the end of 2022 or further
Our bushfire recovery officers serve as eyes and ears on the ground. We contribute to 68 recovery committees at local, regional and state levels; and each month we prepare a thematic analysis of issues emerging in bushfire-affected communities. This enables us to advocate with and on behalf of the communities we serve, whether for targeted services, events or funding. Red Cross has also shared recommendations with the Natural Disasters Royal Commission, as well as state and territory reviews to build community resilience.

Your ongoing support helps us to provide recovery work that can reduce the psychosocial impacts of emergencies like the bushfires.

Thanks for everything you do.