Vinnies supports Northern Rivers households with $3 million of cash grants; calls on all governments to do more to enable charities to provide more financial aid to flood victims

16 March 2022

The St Vincent de Paul Society NSW and its offer of emergency cash grants of up to $3,000 have exposed an unmet need in flood-affected communities in the Northern Rivers.

“Demand for the emergency cash grants we have been providing to people at recovery centres has been overwhelming,” the Society’s NSW CEO, Jack de Groot, said.

“So much so that we estimate we will have provided more than $3 million in financial relief alone by the end of this week.

“During the first week following the disaster, Vinnies was the only charity providing cash grants, and at a maximum of $3,000, we have been providing the most financial assistance to people in flood hit areas.

“Our NSW Flood Appeal has raised just over $1.5 million to date and Vinnies has matched that funding from our own reserves to ensure we helped as many people as we could. 

“In order to manage the remaining funds and be able to stay long term with the Northern Rivers community in their recovery, we will be slowing our significant financial grants program and shifting our focus to providing people with help in the form of food, water, clothing, and other everyday essentials,” Mr de Groot said.

“However, we know from demand that the need for financial assistance is very present in these communities, so I am calling on all levels of government to increase their investment in flood relief for those people impacted by the floods throughout the Northern Rivers.

“People, particularly in these early stages after a disaster, need money.

“Their houses have been severely damaged, in a lot of cases so are their workplaces.

“Cash grants give people the ability to purchase what they need, and it helps restore to them some of the agency that the floods have taken away.

“The latter can be just as vital as the former.

“We have provided this critical financial support to more than 750 households, giving them some hope at such a dire time. All levels of government should enable charities who have the networks on the ground to continue to provide critical financial aid,” Mr de Groot said.

“St Vincent de Paul Society members, volunteers, and employees are now operating out of six recovery centres in Lismore, Casino, Ballina, Mullumbimby, Evans Head, and Maclean,” St Vincent de Paul Society NSW Central Council President, Paul Burton, said.

“Our members are also providing assistance to people as they would normally throughout the region and our homelessness services in Tweed Heads and Ballina are operating as normal.

“Because we have our conferences throughout the region, it means people in Tweed Heads, Kingscliff, Murwillumbah, Byron Bay, Kyogle, Alstonville, and Grafton can also access help,” Mr Burton said.

“The local members live in the Northern Rivers, so I can assure that Vinnies will continue to help the community in its ongoing recovery,” Mr Burton said.

People seeking assistance can do so by visiting one of the recovery centres or calling 13 18 12.

To help us continue to support local communities please donate to the Vinnies NSW Flood Appeal at www.vinnies.org.au/nswfloodappeal or call 13 18 12.

Media Contact: Lachlan Jones 0417 446 430