Help is available
Help is available after a bushfire. But it can be very hard to know where to find it.
People need support both immediately and in the longer term.
Many grants are now open. People whose homes have been lost after the September bushfires can receive cash payments of up to $20,000 from Red Cross. Homeowners whose homes have been structurally damaged can receive $5,000. Bereavement grants of $20,000 are being provided to senior next of kin.
People who have suffered injuries requiring hospitalisation from the fires can access a grant of $7,500 from Red Cross.
To apply go to www.redcross.org.au/grants or ring 1800 733 276. The process is simple and, once processed, payment is made within days.
People who are experiencing financial hardship can also contact The Salvation Army at email@example.com or 1300 662 217 or St Vincent de Paul society on 13 18 12.
For Federal Government Disaster payments call 180 22 66. In NSW, contact Service NSW 13 77 88 for the bushfire customer care service. And for Bushfire Recovery Victoria call 1800 560 760.
Recovering is tough. Peoples' needs change with time and they often feel alone once the world's attention turns away. We're staying in bushfire-affected communities for three years or more, supporting people each step of the way in their recovery journey. We want to ensure there are funds to meet these important needs.
Poppy Brown, director NSW and ACT, Australian Red Cross
Challenge of Fire
I've watched both the ABC and Channel 7 on the South East Fires, and where Q&A was emotive, the Cobargo Fire report clearly emphasised the failure of local and state government to allow control of the fuel on the forest floor.
In 2000-02 I attended meetings with council staff as they rewrote the LEP for the Bega Valley and the clear message then was the shire was becoming "greener" in attitude, so get used to it.
That was followed by Bob Carr annexing large parts of our shire as national parks and various state governments introducing continuous legislation to preserve native vegetation and recently, biodiversity; and, at the same time, reducing financial and general commonsense commitment to land management to assist those objectives.
It's not often now that you see bureaucrats away from the desktop analysis, checking on reality - and in the name of economic rationalisation and city centric focus, country NSW has faded into political insignificance until now.
The result has been continual expensive "road blocks" that stop development and increased land use controls that did not exist 30 years ago when Mayor Reg Taylor helped me to burn off land that I then owned, adjacent to his, at Kalaru at a time when commonsense overruled excessive, expensive and unnecessary regulation.
At great personal cost to our community, let's hope substantial change will now occur.
Michael Britten, Merimbula
My condolences to the residents of the beautiful Bega Valley. I am thinking of you all at this most difficult time. I just cannot imagine what it would be like to lose your home.
Helen Clifford, Blaxland
A short survey; what would you rather have?
1. A fully government-funded and equipped Rural Fire Service in NSW
2. A new stadium in Sydney
You can only pick one.
Send your response to firstname.lastname@example.org.