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Australian Bushfires

Grants and recovery program update December 2020.

Marilyn and Tim lost their home on the NSW South Coast during the bushfires. Grants from Red Cross helped them to live on their property while they rebuild. Photo: Australian Red Cross/Dilini Perera

Bushfires began too early in 2019 and continued too long into 2020. 

We remain humbled by everyone who endured them, and grateful to everyone who helped. 

Our full 12-month report will be out in January, but here is our end-of-year update.

Our grants and recovery program

At 18 December 2020 

5,808 people received one or more bushfire grants
to meet emergency needs, make urgent repairs, help with funeral or hospital costs, or establish a safe place to live

1,891 people received an additional support grant
to further support those in ongoing financial hardship

17,314 people in 46 local government areas
have been supported through our ongoing recovery program

Funds update

A total of $240m was donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund.

$201m has now been disbursed or spent. The remaining $39m will be used in the 2021 and 2022 calendar years: $15m to continue the community recovery program and $24m for final grant payments and unmet needs within bushfire-affected communities.

Hope from the ashes

Bushfire survivors talk about the long road to recovery, and what community support means to them.

Read their stories

Bushfire grants

Grant type

Grant amount


Bereavement grant
For senior next-of-kin of those who died in the fires

Up to $50,000

35 people

Emergency grant
To support people whose primary place of residence was destroyed


2,910 people

Re-establishment grant
To help people who lost their primary place of residence to re-establish a safe place to live

$40,000 (owner occupiers)
$10,000 (renters/mobile homes)

2,422 people

Primary residence repair grant
For home owner occupiers whose primary residence was structurally damaged


2,294 people

Injury grant
For people hospitalised for injuries as a direct result of the bushfires

$7,500 or $15,000

609 people

Additional support grant
For previous grant recipients who are on low incomes and still in financial hardship

Up to $10,000

1,891 people

On average, it took 3-5 days to process a grant and make payment.

These funds are very significant as they are crucial in helping my place to recover from the devastation, and also help ease some of the emotional distress associated with the property and financial losses involved.

— Kris, grant recipient

People came forward at their own pace.

More than 1,739 people applied for their first grant after July, and a few are still coming forward. 

Some had been living off the grid or in remote locations without internet access. Many said that they hadn’t felt ready to apply, or that they only felt they needed support after several months had passed. This is typical of communities recovering from disaster. Because of this, our emergency, repair, injury and re-establishment grants will remain open until 31 December 2020.

Additional support grant

Many people who had already received grants were still in financial hardship due to the magnitude of what they had lost. Our additional support grant provided further help to those who were on low incomes.

The first round opened in November and received over 2,000 applications. Of these, 1,891 were eligible to receive the grant, with payments up to $10,000 in line with people’s identified needs.

A second, smaller application round for the additional support grant will open in February 2021.

Our recovery program

Psychological and social recovery from events like the bushfires can be far longer and more complex than financial or even economic recovery.

Our recovery program focuses on individuals and communities, seeking to equip people to manage their own recovery and support those around them.

Anniversaries and memorials

Communities across Australia will be marking the fires on different dates and in different ways, and we are supporting them. Our recovery team has run webinars on memorials and anniversaries, attended by 512 people, and distributed a radio segment run on five community radio stations

Reports and reviews

The 12-month report on our grants and recovery program will be available in January. You can read our six-month and nine-month reports.

The audited financial statements on the Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund are now available.

The Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission reviewed Red Cross and two other charities involved in bushfire response. Read its review »

The Natural Disasters Royal Commission made several recommendations on coordinating relief and recovery efforts, including the role of charities. Read its findings »

Thank you.

We are humbled by the goodwill and giving spirit that surrounds those affected by the fires. We are grateful to every single person and organisation who gave, raised funds and donated time and effort to help out.

These organisations represent our top financial donors

Apple, A2 Milk, Accent Group, AESOP Foundation, Afterpay, Air New Zealand, Amcor Limited, American Australian Association, American Express Foundation, AMP Foundation, ANZ, Ansell, ARA Group Campbell Arnotts, Arts Centre Melbourne, Ashurst LLP, ASX Limited, Aussie Home Loans, Australia Post, Australian Football League, Australian Nursing Federation, Australian Olympic Committee, Australian Unity, AV Jennings, Bakers Delight, Baxter International Foundation, BHP Foundation, Bluescope Steel, BMW,, BP Australia, Breville, Broadsheet, Bunnings, Bupa, Burberry, California Community Foundation, Canaccord Genuity, Capgemini, Carnival Australia, Carsales, Cartier,, CBRE, Chanel Foundation, Charter Hall, Chep, Chevron Chicago Mercantile Exchange, China Steel Corporation, Chubb Security, Citi Group, City of Sydney Council, CMV Foundation, Coles Group, Colgate-Palmolive, CommBank, Conoco Phillips, Costco, Country Road Group, Cricket Australia, Crown Resorts Limited, CSL Innovation, David Jones Limited, Dell Australia, Diageo, Dulux Group, eBay, EDL Group, Endeavour Energy, Ernst & Young, Estee Lauder, F45 Training, Far East Land, Fitness & Lifestyle Group, Flexigroup, Flybuys, Ford Foundation, Foster's, Foxtel, Fulton Hogan, Gandel Philanthropy, GE Foundation, Genesis Care Ltd, GHD Sydney, Gilbert & Tobin Lawyers, GlaxoSmithKline Australia, Google, GPC Asia Pacific, GPT Group, Great Heights Charitable Fund, Gumtree, GVC Australia, H & M, H&R Block, Hewlett-Packard, Hillside Australia New Media, Hisense, Hitachi Australia, Holden, HSBC, IBM Australia, ING, Inpex, Intuit, Isaacson Davis Foundation, Itochu Australia, JB Hi-Fi, Jefferies LLC, JP Morgan Chase, Kathmandu, Kering, KFC, King & Wood Mallesons, Kirkland Lake Gold, Klarna, KPMG, La Trobe Financial, Laing O'Rourke, Laser Clinics Australia, Lendlease, Liberty Financial, Lion, Loan Market Group, Mapletree Investments, Mastercard, Maurice Blackburn, Mazda Foundation, McDonalds, Mecca Brands, Medicines Australia, Melbourne Cricket Club, Mercer, Merrimac Middle East, Michael Hill Jeweller, Michael Kors, Microsoft, Mirvac, Mitsubishi Corporation, Mortgage and Finance Industry Collective, Mortgage Choice, Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia, MSN, MTR Corporation, Munro Footwear, NAB, NCL Australia, Newmont Mining, Next, Nippon Paint, Nomad Restaurant, Oceania Cruises & Regent Seven Seas Cruises, OneBookShelf, Oracle, Origin Energy, Packer Family Foundation, Paphitis Foundation, Paul Ramsay Foundation, PEXA, Pickles Auctions, Posco, Priceline (Australian Pharmaceutical Industries), PVH, PWC Foundation Trust, Qantas, QBE, REA Group, Real Estate Industry Collective - Beyond the Bricks, Relief Runs, Revlo, Rio Tinto, Roche, Salesforce, Samsung, Sanofi, SAP Australia, Scenic Tours, Serendipity Software, Shell, Singapore Airlines, Society of Women Leaders, Sonic Healthcare, South32, Sportsbet, Sumitomo Corporation, Suncorp, Suntory, Super Retail Group, Supercell Oy, Swisse, Sydney Airport, Tabcorp, TAL Community Foundation, TEG Dainty, Telstra, Tennis Australia, Tetra Pak, The Ernest Heine Family Foundation, The Intrepid Foundation, The KDB Group, The Stan Perron Charitable Foundation, The Trustee for JLT, Ticketmaster, TikTok, TK Maxx, Transurban, Uber, UBS Australia, Uniqlo, United States Tennis Association, UTC Australia, Vodafone Australia Foundation, Western Union Foundation, Woodside Energy, Xero, YUM! Brands, Zurich Foundation.

Those who provided in-kind support to help us keep costs down

KWM, EY, Accenture, Microsoft, Deloitte, KPMG, MSJ and HWL Ebsworth, among so many others. And a special thanks to our partner Land Rover Australia for donating 20 additional vehicles to help us reach communities impacted by the bushfires.

Red Cross and Red Crescent societies who raised funds in their home countries

American Red Cross, Austrian Red Cross, Red Cross Society of Azerbaijan, British Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross Society, Czech Red Cross, Cyprus Red Cross Society, Danish Red Cross, Estonian Red Cross, French Red Cross, German Red Cross, Hong Kong Branch of Chinese Red Cross, Icelandic Red Cross, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Irish Red Cross Society, Italian Red Cross, Kiribati Red Cross Society, The Republic of Korea National Red Cross, Latvian Red Cross, Mongolian Red Cross Society, New Zealand Red Cross, Palau Red Cross Society, Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society, Philippine Red Cross, Polish Red Cross, Red Cross Society of China (Taiwan Red Cross Organisation), Singapore Red Cross Society, Spanish Red Cross, Swedish Red Cross, Swiss Red Cross, Thai Red Cross Society, The Netherlands Red Cross, Tuvalu Red Cross Society, Vanuatu Red Cross Society.

We also acknowledge the governments who, together with their Red Cross Red Crescent Societies in their home countries, supported our response to the bushfires

Government of Tuvalu, Government of the Republic of Korea, Government of the Republic of Estonia, Government of Mongolia.