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Australia : Federal Government provides further recovery assistance to victims of NSW bushfires.

Financial assistance will be available to New Zealanders affected by the New South Wales bushfires since 9 October 2013.

The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and the newly legislated Disaster Recovery Allowance will be available for eligible New Zealand non-protected Special Category Visa holders.

These bushfires have affected many individuals, including people s ability to earn a living, Minister for Justice Michael Keenan said.

Providing this support to New Zealand eligible visa holders is an example of the strong support our countries provide each other in times of need, Minister Keenan said.

AGDRP ex-gratia payments will provide financial assistance to those visa holders who have been seriously injured, are the immediate family members of a person who has been killed, have lost their homes or whose homes have been directly damaged in the bushfires. Those eligible will receive a one-off payment of $1000 for adults and $400 for each child to help them recover.

The ex-gratia income support allowance will provide short-term income support to eligible Special Category Visa holders who have suffered a loss of income as a direct result of the NSW bushfires in the disaster-declared areas. It will be available to employees, primary producers and sole traders with a demonstrated loss of income as a direct result of the disaster. The assistance will provide a fortnightly payment up to the maximum rate of Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance for up to 13 weeks. Eligible people have six months to lodge a claim for this payment.

It is a very difficult time for this region so I encourage individuals in these areas who have been impacted by the fires to take advantage of this assistance and the other support provided by the Australian Government, Minister for Human Services Marise Payne said.

These ex-gratia payments for eligible Special Category Visa holders are available in the disaster declared Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Blue Mountains, Lake Macquarie, Lithgow, Muswellbrook, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Port Stephens, Wyong and Wingecarribee. The Australian Government is monitoring and assessing the impacts in other LGAs.

This Australian Government assistance is in addition to the relief support already being provided under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements, which is jointly funded with the New South Wales State Government.

The easiest way to lodge a claim is by calling 180 22 66 from 8am to 8pm local time, including weekends. Claim forms are available at humanservices.gov.au/disaster

Completed claim forms can also be lodged in person at a Commonwealth Department of Human Services service centre.

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Oct 25, 2013
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