Federal funding grants of $1 million to be paid to MidCoast, Port Macquarie-Hastings and Kempsey council on the Mid North Coast as part of the Natural Disaster Category "C" declaration will further support the bushfire recovery effort, according to Federal Member for Lyne Dr David Gillespie.
Dr Gillespie said since the Prime Minister's visit to the region late last year when the bushfires across the region were at their worst, a significant recovery effort had begun with ongoing announcements of support from local, state and federal government, along with support from non-government organisations.
Dr Gillespie said the Federal Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management had made clear that last Friday's announcement was focussed on supporting local communities.
"I've made it clear this won't be a Canberra led recovery, it'll be a locally led recovery and this is our first instalment in that process. We're committed to rebuilding communities but also the lives of those impacted by these devastating fires," Minister Littleproud said
All funds will be drawn from the $2 billion allocated to the National Bushfire Recovery Agency and this is in addition to funding that is automatically available to councils through other disaster recovery arrangements.
The lump sum payments will be delivered by the Commonwealth by the close of business tomorrow to State Governments who administer payments to councils.
The only condition placed on councils is that they develop a Program of Works within three months and report back to the Commonwealth in 12 months' time.
Councils will be able to spend their $1 million payments on projects and activities that they deem essential for the recovery and renewal of their communities, including:
- Rebuilding damaged or destroyed council assets such as key local roads, bridges, and community facilities;
- Employing additional local staff to take on specialist recovery or planning roles to help coordinate and plan the rebuilding effort;
- Hosting new public activities and events to bring communities together and attract visitors back to affected regions; and
- Immediate maintenance and repairs to relief and evacuation centres.
A further $18 million will be set aside to provide additional support to larger council areas which have experienced the most significant damage, with the National Bushfire Recovery Coordinator Andrew Colvin working with state governments and impacted local councils on determining this additional allocation.
Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments have also been made available with $1000 for eligible adults and $400 for eligible children. Eligible people include those who have lost an immediate family member, their home or have been badly injured, Minister Littleproud said.
This payment is on top of the jointly funded Disaster Recovery Allowance which includes access to 13 weeks of income support payments to help those who have lost their business or work get back on their feet.
Applicants can call DHS on 180 22 66, visit www.humanservices.gov.au or visit a DHS Service Centre.
Volunteer firefighters will also receive financial support from the Federal Coalition Government for loss of income, where they have been called out for extended periods of service.
Rural Fire Service Volunteers in NSW who are self-employed or work for small and medium businesses, and who have been called out for more than 10 days this fire season, will be able to apply for the payments.
The payments will provide for lost income of up to $300 per day up to a total of up to $6,000 per person.
These payments are tax free and will not be means-tested, but are targeted to those most likely to suffer lost income by volunteering for extended periods of time.
For most, this will represent the equivalent of at least 20 days' emergency leave for employees of small and medium sized businesses and volunteers who are self employed.
The Prime Minister says this will include farmers, small business owners, tradies and contract workers in rural and regional areas who have been hit especially hard by this fire season.