Supporting communities with moneys from Vinnies National Bushfire Appeal and from Emergency Relief funds
Call us on 13 18 12 if you need help with bushfire recovery
· $25.2 million has been raised through Vinnies Bushfire Appeal
· $19.1 million (76%) has been spent and committed in Queensland, NSW, ACT, Victoria and South Australia
· $6.1 million (24%) has been committed to recovery projects from July 2020 to December 2021.
Commonwealth Emergency Relief Funds
· $12.2 million has been provided by the Commonwealth Government to support Emergency Relief
· $9.8 million has been spent
· $2.4 million remains available to eligible households in Queensland, NSW, ACT and South Australia
Select your residential state to find out more or phone 13 18 12:
The Vinnies Bushfire Appeal was first opened in response to catastrophic bushfires in northern NSW in late September 2019, and later expanded to become a national appeal to support communities affected by the 2019-20 Black Summer Bushfires across Queensland, NSW, the ACT, Victoria and South Australia.
Thanks to generous donations from members of the public, businesses and philanthropists, $25.2 million was raised to support people who suffered devastating damage to their homes and their livelihoods from the fires.
Funds raised in NSW via the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal have been incredibly important in supporting people and communities impacted by the Black Summer bushfires. So far, we have distributed or committed $7.9 million of the $8.9 million allocated to NSW from the bushfire funds (this does not include parts of the far NSW South Coast which fall under our Canberra-Goulburn team’s management).
Our volunteer members are embedded in communities right across the state and were often the first to render assistance to their neighbours in the immediate aftermath of the bushfires. Your generous donations have provided:
• emergency financial assistance including rent and mortgage payments, car repairs and registration, medical expenses
• food, clothing and household items
• crisis accommodation when homes were destroyed or damaged or when people were evacuated, and
• other financial and emotional support to help get people back on their feet.
We have also worked in partnership with the Commonwealth Government to support people in designated bushfire-affected postcodes, with $5.5 million in government Emergency Relief Fund payments distributed by Vinnies in NSW.
As we moved from immediate disaster relief into the recovery and rebuilding phase, your donations are being used to help communities deal with the long-term impact of the fires. Over the past two months, we have also launched community grants programs with a focus on long-term recovery. The grants support local community organisations to administer their own local recovery projects. These are taking many forms including infrastructure repairs or counselling and education programs.
We are also using funds to run a Bushfire Community Development Program which sees experienced Vinnies community workers placed in a number of areas identified to be most affected by the bushfires and most vulnerable to ongoing disadvantage. Vinnies community development workers will consult widely with residents, councils, local businesses, and organisations, to develop and lead a tailored plan for local recovery.
The first region supported through the program was Kempsey, where Vinnies began working in July 2020. Following the roll-out of the Vinnies NSW Bushfire Community Development Program in Kempsey, the program will be expanded to other communities across the state.
In Canberra/Goulburn (lower South Coast NSW, Snowy-Monaro and Queanbeyan Palerang) the Society is reaching out to those impacted by the fires who have not yet sought our assistance. Emergency relief funds from the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal are continuing to be distributed to those who have lost homes (up to $3000) as is Commonwealth Emergency Relief funding (of up to $1,000). More information on Emergency Relief funds can be found HERE.
There is an additional focus on community recovery and a first round of grants directed to community recovery was launched in August 2020, with around $334,000 being allocated over 23 projects. A second round of grants launched in September attracted 39 applications which are currently being assessed. The potential for a third round in early 2021 is under consideration.
Our next focus is on community development. A position has been advertised for a community development officer to run a trial program in a remote area of the NSW Far South Coast. The officer will work with the community to generate ideas to boost
So far this year, Victoria has assisted hundreds of families and individuals in bush fire affected areas of East Gippsland and North East Victoria by working to:
• provide more than 30 higher education grants to the value of $250,000
• fund the 12-month appointment of a trauma counselling social worker at Mallacoota P1-12 College
• fund a $250,000 rebuild of a basketball court and sports facility in Mallacoota
• provide a significant number of recovery and rebuild payments for those who have experienced critical loss and now providing additional support as required
• engage with the local government to reach those who we have not yet supported
• release emergency hardship funds in the immediate aftermath of the fires
• provide laptops, school uniforms and education fees, and
• fund land-clearing and supplying water tanks, generators and fencing.
Our volunteers at the Bairnsdale Assistance Centre have provided 1,371 fire-affected families and individuals with material assistance to the value of more than $277,000 for items such as food, fuel, clothing, bedding and educational costs, along with a lot of emotional support.
Remaining funds will be allocated in the following ways:
As part of the long-term rebuilding process, support is available for those families who lost significant housing/property.
We are aware of a number of properties that we have not been able to support because we have not had contact with, or have been unable to contact, the householders. We are working in partnership with the local council to reach out to those householders in the East Gippsland area.
Those rebuilding homes whom we have been able to support are being encouraged to recontact us again to see if we can assist with additional support.
We are offering community groups or organisations in bushfire-fire affected regions the opportunity to apply to the Vinnies Victoria Bushfire Community Grants to fund local projects. This may include paying for repairs to shared facilities, such as halls or sports venues, funding to get a local service back on its feet, conducting recreational activities to bring the community together and promote healing or counselling, and providing educational programs linked to the experience of the fires. These are just a few examples of what community groups in the fire-impacted areas could apply for in our latest initiative.
Vinnies Victoria expects the grants to take a variety of forms and encourages community groups to be innovative in their applications. The community grants come at a targeted time in the long-term recovery process and complement a broad range of schemes already being distributed to and implemented in bushfire-impacted communities by Vinnies Victoria throughout 2020.
Communities organisations are encouraged to apply for grants of up to $20,000.
For more information regarding Victoria's bushfire updates:
• Bushfire Community Grants
• Bushfire Assistance
In South Australia, all of our donated bushfire funds have been distributed. Only Commonwealth Emergency Relief funding (of up to $1,000 cash) is available and a further amount of up to $1,000 is available for bill payment.
The types of bills covered include:
• electricity/gas/water bills
• council rates
• clean up property (cutting of trees, movement of trees)
• replacement of fire prevention for property (sprinklers etc.)
• fencing replacement costs
• revegetation costs
• solar panels
• replacement of household items lost (where this no insurance/insurance doesn’t cover all items/ or applicant is underinsured)
• irrigation systems
• water tanks
• cleaning water connections to the house ( no mains water)
• stock feed
• wood for fires
• food – credit at supermarkets, butchers
• food vouchers – Drake, IGA, Foodland
• rent payments
• mortgage payments
• car repairs/servicing/new tyres – goods vehicles required in all fire affected areas due to distances travelled – Yorketown, Adelaide Hills and KI
• car registration or driver’s licence
• medical expenses (essential only), and
• school Fees for SA government schools.
More information on Emergency relief funds can be found HERE.
Queensland volunteer members are present in communities big and small throughout the state, and always ready to support locals in times of hardship.
Anyone who has – as a result of the fires – experienced loss or damage to their property, loss or damage of their belongings, or loss or impact to income/ livelihood, is eligible for emergency assistance including:
• food and grocery vouchers
• clothing, blankets and other essentials
• financial assistance to pay bills
• interest-free loans for a variety of household items
• emotional support and a shoulder to lean on, and
• referrals to other service providers.
In Queensland, the impact of the fires has been primarily to grazing land and agricultural infrastructure, such as fences and sheds. Vinnies volunteers have revisited many families that were fire affected in October and November 2019, and who did not seek help at that time. The recent fire assistance has been mainly from the Yeppoon area (Livingstone LGA), with some claims from the Scenic Rim local government area.
More information on Emergency relief funds can be found HERE.
More information on bushfire updates can be found HERE.
To request Emergency relief support or assistance, call 1800 VINNIES (1800 846 643) and enter your postcode to be connected to volunteers in your local area.
- How we have helped so far
Our presence embedded in communities across the fire-devastated areas meant that Vinnies was often the first to render assistance immediately after the destruction.
Many of our volunteer members live and work in the affected communities. They were on the ground to support their neighbours and start providing a hand up to those in need. The generous donations of Vinnies supporters enabled them to play that vital role.
Thanks to the incredible public fundraising effort, our volunteers were able to deliver assistance including:
• making cash payments of up to $3,000 to supplement the Commonwealth’s Emergency Relief Fund payments of $1,000
• delivering food, clothing, essential items, grocery vouchers
• paying for emergency hotel accommodation for people who lost everything
• paying bills to help households recover
• referring people onto other organisations providing crisis accommodation and specialised services
• giving emotional support and practical assistance in the wake of the fires.
So far, Vinnies has disbursed more than $19.1 million in Vinnies Bushfire Appeal funds, supporting more than 7,000 households across Queensland, NSW, the ACT, Victoria and South Australia.
In partnership with the Australian Government, we also helped to distribute $1,000 Emergency Relief Fund grants in Queensland, NSW, the ACT and South Australia, ensuring these funds could reach those who needed them most. So far, we have distributed around 7,000 of these government grants (in addition to the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal funds).
- Who we're supporting
Farmers: The Sages are a farming family who had been “bled dry” by the drought before the bushfires arrived, making matters even worse. “Where a lot of people including the government just leave you to your own devices, so to speak, [Vinnies has] always been making sure we’re alright.” >> Read more
Families: Storm, Al and baby Zeke lost everything when bushfires hit the Northern Tablelands town of Wytaliba (NSW). “Vinnies has been brilliant,” Al said. “The initial emergency funding came through quickly, and the ongoing support has been so important to helping us get through. The personal support is vital and really appreciated.” >> Read more
People who lost their livelihoods: The Tarmac Sawmill, near Rappville in northern NSW, was completely lost in the fires. “I can walk you around a timber mill and explain exactly what’s going on. But when it comes to going online and filling in forms, I’m totally lost,” said one employee, now out of work. “The fact of the matter is that I’m pretty much illiterate. That’s why today has been great… these guys [Vinnies] are wonderful.” >> Read more
People with disability or health concerns: Tinamaria narrowly avoided losing her home in the NSW South Coast bushfires, but the smoke inhalation added to the physical health problems she already experiences. The emotional trauma will stay with her, too. “You sort of get along just automatically, and then when you start talking about it you notice that it’d affected you more than you know.” >> Read more
People who were uninsured: Anne was building a tiny home out of a shipping container, having recently moved after the devastating death of her mother. “When I tried to get insurance, they said it’s not quite a house and it’s not quite in contents and it’s not quite this, so I just fell through the cracks… So I said alright, leave it because in a couple of months I’m hoping to get it made into a house, and we’ll go from there. That never happened.” >> Read more
On behalf of everyone at Vinnies and those we assist, thank you to the generous donors who supported the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal. We acknowledge all the people and organisations who provided donations both from home and overseas. In particular, we wish to thank our Vincentian brothers and sisters whose emotional and financial support during the peak of the bushfire crisis highlighted the collegiality that has its origins in the good works demonstrated by our founders.
Below, a small sample of the people we supported share what your generosity has meant to them:
“The day St Vincent de Paul put that money into our account gave [my husband] so much hope, he knew he could feed his cattle." – Glynis
>> Read more
“Vinnies as an organisation has really - I mean, they're great. You can't speak highly enough of them.” – Lorraine
>> Read more
“I just want to convey my sincere thanks to Vinnies and the thousands of people who donated, for the generous donation given to me when I visited the Bush Fire Recovery Centre at the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club. The people there were just great - understanding and sympathetic. ” – Ineke
>> Read more
- The continuing journey to recovery
As we move forward towards the recovery journey, Vinnies wants to inform our donors and those we are assisting that our approach to recovering from a natural disaster is a marathon, not a sprint. We are committed to being there beside communities for the duration of that journey, just like we have done in the past. For instance, Vinnies is still supporting people who lived through the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 in Victoria, and more recently the Tathra bushfire of 2018 in NSW. Our role is to support local people to develop their plans to rebuild their houses, their local communities and their towns.
It is important for donors to be confident that every dollar raised to assist those who have been impacted by the bushfires across such a large area of Australia will be spent on those in need.
We have taken no administration fees from donations to the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal (we are very lucky to be able to cover costs through other income sources). All funds donated to the Bushfire Appeal will be spent to help those people and communities affected by the bushfires including direct response already provided and ongoing community rebuilding over the next 12-18 months.
“Our situation is going to go for another 12-24 months, and it’s going to be emotionally and financially challenging. It’s only now that we’re starting to get our feet back on the ground that we can look around and see what we might need.”
– Jani Klotz, speaking one year after losing her home in the 2018 Tathra bushfire.
Our focus is on developing enduring relationships with people in affected communities – something we are uniquely equipped to do through more than 45,000 volunteers and members who live and work in metropolitan, suburban and regional locations right across the country.
We recognise that no two people’s experience of the bushfires is the same; nor are their future needs likely to be identical. We aim to be flexible and effective in our recovery response, ensuring that we are giving people and communities the assistance they need rather than deciding what is needed for them.
The impact of coronavirus – and next steps
We plan to conduct a series of community meetings to work together with communities in determining our local and hands-on response. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has delayed these plans, but we are urgently considering contingency methods such as live-streamed, online meetings.
As the coronavirus restrictions begin to ease, our bushfire recovery coordinators are starting to again go out to communities and consult on the local recovery plan – particularly for large-scale rebuilding projects to restore community facilities, farms and businesses.
Importantly, we will continue supporting individuals. Over the coming months, our members will be providing additional one-on-one support and connecting those who are doing it particularly tough with specialised services. We will give particular attention to those dealing with more complex matters in their recovery journey, including those living with a disability, experiencing family violence, addiction, mental health challenges and trauma, and who are at risk of homelessness beyond the temporary dislocation caused by the bushfires.
Community grant application processes have been completed or are underway in NSW, Canberra Goulburn (covering the Far South Coast NSW) and Victoria, making the remaining appeal funds in bushfire-affected locations available for communities to access. A range of projects and activities that provide the most benefit to those in the impacted communities have been supported. Community development officers will also be established in NSW and the Far South Coast. Beyond granting the money, Vinnies will be on-hand to work alongside these communities in bringing their recovery plans to life.
- Frequently asked questions
Please view our Vinnies Bushfire Appeal Frequently Asked Questions.