ACOSS welcomes emergency funding for community sector organisations in bushfire response

15 January 2020

The Australian Council of Social Service welcomes the $50 million in funding announced by the Government today for community sector organisations supporting people impacted by the bushfires.

As reported today, the funding includes $40 million for The Salvation Army and The St Vincent De Paul Society to go to emergency funds for people impacted by the fires. It also includes $10 million for financial counselling.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“We welcome this additional funding for services to help people who’ve lost so much through the bushfire crisis.

“This funding supports frontline community services to urgently get emergency funds to people impacted for immediate needs.

“On the long, hard road to recovery, the community sector will need ongoing support from the Federal Government to respond to the surge in need which is likely to continue for many months, as people reach out for help to rebuild their homes and lives.

“We continue to call on the Government to increase its Disaster Relief Payment, which at $1,000 per person has not been increased in 14 years, and the Disaster Recovery Allowance, set at the same rate as Newstart – $40 a day, which is not enough for anyone to get by.

“The ongoing impact of the bushfire crisis is set to include rising food prices, which will make trying to get by on Newstart even more unbearable. Newstart has not been increased in real terms for 25 years, while living costs have gone through the roof. Again we call on the Government to increase Newstart to get people through tough times and to provide needed economic stimulus, especially in regional communities struggling with high unemployment, likely to be made worse in those affected by the bushfire crisis.

“We’re also calling on the Government to work with people impacted by bushfires who were unable to afford insurance and to establish a review into affordable insurance for people on low incomes. As extreme weather events increase in Australia due to climate change, insurance premiums are escalating and too many people, particularly people on low incomes, find themselves under-insured or not insured.

“People on low incomes are hit first and worst by the impacts of climate change, such as these terrifying megafires. Australia must strengthen its own response to the climate crisis and take a global leadership role on climate change.”