RECOVERY to READINESS WEBINARS Q&As

    What can I do to prepare for an emergency?

    Situation awareness is important.

    Download Apps including:

    • Emergency Plus App
    • Fires near me
    • Floods safe
    • Live traffic (more metropolitan)
    • Local Council website for local traffic

    Have a fire plan and make up a Kit Bag including:

    • a car mobile phone charger
    • battery powered transistor radio with extra batteries tuned to ABC 97.3 (the dedicated emergency management broadcaster in Shoalhaven and Illawarra)
    • torch
    • cash in case there is power outage i.e. eftpos machines won’t work
    • enough medications to last a week or two
    • save the Emergency helpline 4429 5888 in your phone contacts

    For more information visit the Emergency NSW Emergency Kits web page.

    How will evacuation centres be managed with the COVID situation?

    Evacuation centres are an integral part of our process.

    Managing the risk of COVID-19 is a challenge, the NSW Government recently updated guidelines in regards to Evacuation Centres.

    Government agencies are reluctant to open Evacuation Centres during a pandemic.

    If an Evacuation Order is given people are encouraged to stay with family or friends that you know are healthy themselves.

    If this isn't possible you should register their number for emergency accommodation. This system worked reasonably well during the recent floods.

    Amanda Findley - I spent a lot of time at the evacuation centre and it was community who ran a notice board around assistance for accomodation - the government agencies don't wont to be involved in this type of scheme as they are concerned about blow back i.e. if  there is an assault  or a theft they don't want to be in the middle of that kind of squabble - so it just remains up to community to manage - at the civic centre it was basically a white board that required fairly intensive management by volunteers who rang each household offering accommodation to see what the status was and keeping it on the whiteboard.

    What are the plans to advise emergency updates to local community radio stations, within the LGA, in the case of alerting the community?

    ABC radio are in attendance in the emergency centre.

    We have them on speed dial and direct lines to all media channels so we can provide the latest information within minutes when a decision was made

    The ABC has an obligation, as an emergency channel to quote us word for word while

    The other channels usually also quote us word for word but are not obligated to.

    Listen to authoritative sources including the ABC radio, RFS and Council’s website and social channels.

    Fires Near Me' App wasn't functional during 2019/2020 fires. What sources can guide us during an emergency situation?

    Fires Near Me App app was working. Sometimes there can be a time delay in updates loading due to telecommunications issues the need to ratify information before it is manually added to the APP. Don’t use one channel as the only source of truth.

    Use other Apps including:

    • Emergency Plus App
    • Fires near me
    • Floods safe
    • Live traffic (more metropolitan)
    • Local Council website for local traffic.

    If you are in a poor reception area, this needs to be built into your fire plan.

    Are there any financial assistance schemes available to private landholders to purchase fire-fighting equipment? Portable units typically cost $2.5k. Any bulk purchasing proposals to reduce this cost?


    Council publishes all community grants available on this Shoalhaven Bushfire Recovery website. 

    You can also call Council’s Bushfire Assistance helpline 4429 5888 and ask what grants are currently available. 

    Are additional aerial resources available this coming fire season?

    Yes, RFS recently purchased a 737 Air Tanker

    Through Goodwin's $5.5 million sponsorship a 412 Helicopter (bucket machine) has been added to the RFS fleet. 

    More resources, from the northern hemisphere, are being contracted for the next fire season.

    Are evacuation centres for livestock still going to be offered?

    When developing a fire plan pets and livestock must be considered. You need to be able to move your animals yourself

    Yes, in conjunction with local Council this is an important part of our planning system livestock can be moved to Council showgrounds etc. We also assist with food, water and veterinary checks if needed.

    What information support could be given to potential accommodation providers around COVID safety to support such offers again especially if evacuation centres are not going to be operational?

    Government agencies can only organise paid accommodation.

    A home isolation system could be organised through non-government agencies

    In the recent emergency people were asked to register with Nowra Police to be provided with emergency accommodation and follow the public health website’s to implement a COVID safe plan.

    Who inputs the information on Fires near me RFS Shoalhaven or Head Office, when it needs updating?

    Both. Locally we do the most input, but Sydney (Head Office) can also upload like any Emergency Alert so it is sent out immediately.

    What will be the affects of La Nina on the Bushfire season?

    There is a 70 per cent chance of La Nina, which generally means wetter than average conditions

    We are expecting higher rainfall - whether that gets realised remains to be seen.

    Why isn’t there a Neighbourhood Safer Place, Assembly Area or Evacuation Centre in my village?

    A place that is identifies by the RFS as an Evacuation Centre must meets specific standards.

    There are currently 28 Evacuation Centres in Shoalhaven and we are continuing to roll them out.

    An Evacuation Centre or Assembly Area is the It’s the best place you can be. It may be a paddock in a an area, or a structure that meets the specific standards.

    Suitable Evacuation Centres include:

    Place of safety
    Pre-identify suitability for large volumes of people in a safe environment to cope manage COVID measures
    Obligations to provide welfare facilities
    Accommodation
    Domestic pets
    Medical needs and resources

    Evacuation Centres and assembly Areas are assessed as a minimum every 12 moths.

    What do the different warning alert levels mean?

    During a bush fire, Alert Levels are used to give you an indication of the level of threat from a fire.

    Remember – don't wait for a warning. Some fires start and spread so quickly there may not be any time for a warning. If you get a Bush Fire Alert, you must take it seriously. Failure to take action can result in death or injury to you or your family members.

    There are three levels of Bush Fire Alerts:

    Advice
    A fire has started. There is no immediate danger. Stay up to date in case the situation changes.

    Watch And Act
    There is a heightened level of threat. Conditions are changing and you need to start taking action now to protect you and your family.

    Emergency Warning
    An Emergency Warning is the highest level of Bush Fire Alert. You may be in danger and need to take action immediately. Any delay now puts your life at risk.

    For some fires, you may hear a warning message over your radio or television, such as a siren, or you may receive an Emergency Alert text message or phone call. Other fires may start so quickly that there will be no time for any warning at all.

HEALTH AND WELLBEING

    Where can I access mental health and counselling services?

    The 4424 7888 Bushfire Recovery and COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line has been established to provide an easy point of access for anyone feeling overwhelmed or dealing with difficult emotions in response to the 2019/20 bushfires and/or the COVID -19 pandemic.

    Contact the Mental Health Bushfire Recovery and COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line on 4424 7888 between 8:30 - 4:30 Monday to Friday.

    For more information visit the online Factsheet

    Please call the Mental Health Access Line on 1800 011 511 Lifeline on 13 11 14 after hours.

    The following free services are available 24 hours, seven days a week:
    • Lifeline 13 Help (13 43 57) - devoted to bushfire recovery
    • Lifeline: 13 11 14
    • Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
    • Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511
    • Mensline: 1300 789 978
    • Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
    If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 000.

    For practical assistance call the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444.



    How can I support young people after the bushfire?

    Young people are especially vulnerable to the indirect affects of natural disasters due to these events sometimes being their first exposure, their developmental stage and their increased likelihood of high levels of exposure to graphic content – particularly via social media. 
    To find out how you can help visit Information for family and friends supporting young people affected by a natural disaster.


    What kind of support is there for kids returning to school?

    The Australian Government has developed two fact sheets to support children, students and their families as they return to school in 2020. 

    The fact sheets lists the range of support that is available to help with the transition back to school and study.

    The Back to School and Your Child's Welbeing Factsheet contains useful information and resources to support the mental health and wellbeing of children, students and their families.

    The Support for Bushfire-affected School Students and Families in NSW Factsheet contains information on the range of support available from the Australian and NSW governments if you have a child starting or returning to school in 2020 in a bushfire-affected area.

    Both factsheets are available online on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.

    Is Red Cross providing financial assistance for mental health issues?

    Red Cross are providing an Injury Grant of $7,500 for people who have spent two days or more in hospital for physical injuries as well as mental health issues as a direct result of bushfires from July 2019.

    For more information visit Red Cross' Australian Bushfires - How We're Using Funds.

    Where can I find information about the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program?

    It is important that you look after yourself and access mental health and counselling services if required.

    Anyone experiencing persistent issues impacting their day-to-day lives should talk to their General Practitioner or regular health care provider.

    The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP), operates across rural and remote NSW. RAMHP has coordinators in the fire affected areas working directly with communities to provide on the ground support, connecting people with support and assistance and visiting evacuation centres daily.

    To contact your local Coordinator visit RAMHP's Mental Health Program website and type in your postcode.

    For practical assistance call the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444

    Where can I find more information on health related issues?

    For more information visit Department of NSW Health.

    Topics include:

    • Air Quality Index (AQI)
    • Support services
    • Beat the heat
    • Protect yourself from bushfire smoke
    • Illness and injury from bushfire
    • Returning home safely
    • Information for childcare centres and parents
    • Medications and prescriptions


    Are there health risks sifting through fire-damaged properties and material?

    While members of the community are understandably keen to return to their properties and sift through fire-damaged material, they need to be aware of the associated health risks.

    The Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District issued Public Health Advice for Bushfire-Affected Areas reminding residents and their families to take extra precautions when returning to homes and properties affected by bushfires.

    Community members should not sift through fire-damaged material until it has been inspected and verified to be free of asbestos and other hazardous material.

    Building and structures burnt in bushfires can leave potential health and safety hazards in the remaining rubble and ash.

    Health risks include exposure to asbestos, ash from burnt-treated timbers, medicines, garden or farm chemicals, household chemicals and cleaning products, damaged gas bottles, metal and other residues from burnt household appliances as well as ash and dust.

    Fibres can also become trapped on clothing and other items and transported off-site.

    Licensed contractors from NSW Public Works are progressively working through fire-affected areas in the Shoalhaven as quickly as they can.

    For more information on your property, call 1800 88 55 39.

    For more information on property hazards following a bushfire visit SafeWork NSW.

Red Cross Grants

    How can I apply for a grant?

    Red Cross are making the process as simple as possible, with a few basic checks to be made.

     Visit redcross.org.au/grants to apply. 

    You will need to provide evidence of your identity (such as a driver licence), proof of ownership or residence (like a rates notice or utility bill), evidence of hospital admission and discharge (for the Injury Grant) and details for a financial transfer (a recent bank statement showing BSB and account details).

    Some people have lost documents in the fires. Use what you have to complete your application. Red Cross will follow up with you to verify details. 

    Red Cross' teams understand that it’s not always easy to provide all of your documents. They will help you to work through the process. 

    Call 1800 733 276 for assistance.

    How long will it take to receive my grant?

    Once your information is verified and the application is approved, the grant should be paid within days, where possible.

    Who’s eligible for the re-establishment grant?

    People whose primary place of residence was destroyed or rendered permanently uninhabitable by a bushfire from July 2019. 

    Your ‘primary place of residence’ could be a house, a non-permanent structure such as a mobile home or a caravan, you could have owned it or rented it, as long as it was where you lived. 

    You also need to be seeking to reestablish housing or living arrangements, have faced financial hardship as a result of the bushfires and continue to face financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    I’ve lost a holiday house/investment property in the bushfires. Can I get a grant?

    The grants are for people whose primary place of residence has been destroyed or rendered permanently uninhabitable (whether owned or rented) or structurally damaged (if owned).

    This is because we are trying to respond to the most urgent cases first. 

    Other assistance may be available from government. To find out more visit www.bushfirerecovery.gov.au to see what is available in your state.

    What is the Small Business Recovery and Resilience package?

    The Bushfire Affected Small Business Rebuild package gives small businesses the assistance they need to weather the bushfire crisis and become stronger and more resilient in the future.

    The focus of this package is on supporting small businesses to rebuild and recover and to help them continue to trade, through additional on the ground support, clarifying and extending criteria for existing programs, and providing additional financial support for a broader range of small businesses.

    What happening to money donated to Red Cross in the bushfires?

    Every day it’s going to people who lost everything in the fires.

    Right now, many people are getting a second grant to help them rebuild or make the right choices for them and their families.

    It’s also supporting a community recovery program over three years or more.

    Why didn’t Red Cross give all the money out immediately?

    Red Cross started distributing funds at the beginning of January and continued to significantly expand financial assistance as donations grew.

    The goal is to give people the financial support that’s right for them, when they’re ready for it. And giving the most support to those who lost everything.

    Red Cross is providing grants that people apply for when they’re ready – to meet immediate needs, to make repairs, to help with hospital expenses, and to make choices about where to live.

    Recovery takes a long time. So Red Cross has an $18m three-year recovery program in all affected communities.

    Can people get help with grant applications?

    Yes. If you need support, please call the grants team on 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276).

    If the Red Cross are giving out grants, why are people still living in tents and caravans?

    No grant can ever replace what people have lost in the fires, especially their homes.

    People have said they used the emergency grant to buy household items, find a temporary place to live, replace things that aren’t covered by insurance, or to purchase caravans or mobile homes to stay in while they rebuild on their land.

    What are Red Cross doing to help people through the winter?

    Many people whose homes were destroyed have been living in ‘for now’ arrangements while they work out what to do.

    That’s why Red Cross introduced a re-establishment grant to help people rebuild their home, buy another home, rent a home, move to a retirement home, or replace the caravan or mobile home they were living in. 

    The aim is to ensure people have somewhere safe to stay.

    Why have some people said that funds were slow and they’ve struggled to access money?

    When you’ve lost everything, no help can ever come fast enough or replace what you’ve lost. Red Cross has made the application process as simple as possible, with basic checks to prevent fraud. More than 4,350 people have received grants (at 26 June).

    But it’s hard for people to find and provide information after a disaster. That’s why Red Cross and other agencies are calling for a trusted information source that people can use to submit information once, and multiple agencies can access and provide financial assistance quickly.

    Why hasn't Red Cross been seen more in the community?

    COVID-19 has created additional challenges for bushfire-affected communities and agencies working in recovery. 

    For a long time, people couldn’t go to a recovery centre to get information on available support, or get help with an application; nor could Red Cross teams do their standard door-to-door outreach, as many of their volunteers are aged over 60.

    Red Cross has provided phone and online support, including outreach to local councils, offering webinars, using Spotify and radio ads, community newspapers and social media to inform people about financial assistance.

    What makes it harder is that many people who need this assistance have limited internet access, especially now. Red Cross continues continue to use all means possible reach them, and is now resuming its face-to-face recovery and outreach work.

    Why are some media stories claiming Red Cross haven’t helped people?

    While there have been many positive stories, unfortunately some of our work has been misrepresented. Most of the people featured in recent stories have received grants, and on the rare occasion they have not yet applied, Red Cross has followed up and supported them to apply.

    It is true that Red Cross has not been as visible in some communities as it wanted to be. This is because of COVID-19 restrictions and to protect volunteers, many of whom are aged over 60. As restrictions ease, Red Cross teams are back in communities and resuming outreach work.

    Red Cross welcomes every chance to have an open and honest conversation, whether in person, in the media, or on social media.

    What will the Red Cross recovery program do?

    It’s a three-year program in bushfire-affected regions across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.

    Trained Red Cross volunteers will provide psychosocial support – at recovery centres and hubs, at community events, and face-to-face and phone outreach.

    Red Cross will continue to help people apply for grants and connect them to services and information. Red Cross is engaging with local community organisations, agencies, working groups and intra-agency groups to facilitate community recovery.

    The organisation will also supporting people in community leadership roles with information, support and recovery expertise. Red Cross runs information sessions and training on recovery. These are currently offered online.

    Why can’t Red Cross help with fencing and business expenses?

    There are charity laws that define what Red Cross and other charities can do. As a public benevolent institution, Red Cross must provide relief to people who are in hardship or financial distress.

    This is generally interpreted to mean people who have personal losses such as homes they live in, but not people who lost investment properties and holiday homes. It also means Red Cross can only support people; not businesses or animals or community infrastructure.

    There are many government and other agencies offering bushfire relief to businesses including farms, and Red Cross regularly refers people to them.

    People whose homes have been destroyed can access the emergency grant, which is $20,000 to help with whatever their immediate needs are.

    Were Red Cross participating in the Royal Commission?

    Yes. Red Cross provided a voluntary submission to the Natural Disasters Royal Commission and was then summoned to appear as a witness.

    Red Cross sees the Royal Commission as an important opportunity to ensure the nation’s disaster preparedness, response and recovery systems are as robust and strong as they can be.

    You can read the voluntary public submission at redcross.org.au/bushfirefunds.

    Is Red Cross keeping money for future disasters?

    No. Apart from $5m for emergencies work in 2019/20 (including 24/7 support and evacuations, relief centres and outreach services), all other funds donated are being used to support people and communities impacted by bushfires since July 2019. This includes financial support grants and a three-year recovery program.

    Red Cross advised up to 10 cents of each dollar donated will be used for administrative support costs and these costs are currently less than 4 cents in each dollar donated. 

    All interest earned is contributed back to the Disaster Relief and Recovery fund.

    Who can I speak to about bushfire recovery in my community?

    Community recovery officers are now working in 18 bushfire-affected communities. To get in touch, email recovery@redcross.org.au or call 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276).

APPLYING FOR GRANTS AND REBATES

    How do I apply for a Red Cross assistance grant?

    Apply for a Disaster Emergency Grant through the Red Cross Grants website.  

    For more information visit the Red Cross website.

    How do I apply for my rates to be waived or refunded?

    If you own a property impacted by the recent bushfires you may be eligible to have your Council rates waived or refunded by the NSW Government. 

    When lodging a Council rates waiver or refund please take a a copy of your rates notice to a NSW Services Centre and complete a lodgement form.

    How do I apply for a quarterly water account waiver or usage rebate?

    Quarterly Account Waiver – Funded by Shoalhaven Water

    Water account holders who had a property that NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) determined as damaged or destroyed have had their 3rd Quarter Account water and sewer charges (i.e. issued between January and March) waived. Information was sent to eligible customers directly. 

    Water Usage Rebate

    To assist with the cost of water used to prepare and protect property, a water usage rebate is available. Customers who were advised by the RFS that they should consider leaving or that is was too late to leave are eligible to apply. The rebate applies to accounts issued between January and March.

    The rebate value is the increase in water usage, calculated on the daily average consumption, compared to the same time last year.

    Please note that applications close 01 June and can be made online through the Shoalhaven Water Rebates and Offers web page.

    Please note, rebates will be applied as credit on water accounts and are not refundable or transferable.

    To find out more, please contact Shoalhaven Water’s Customer Service Team on 4429 3214 or by emailing water@shoalhaven.nsw.gov.au.

    Quarterly Account Waiver – Funded by Service NSW

    Shoalhaven City Council has successfully petitioned the NSW Government to provide further support to our bushfire affected customers.

    All water account holders who were eligible for the 6 months of Rates relief, delivered through Service NSW, will now also have their quarter 4 (April – June) water and sewer availability charges credited. 

    Please note, this does not cover water usage charges. Eligible customers will have information sent to them directly. If you have already paid your account, the relief payment will place your account into credit.


    How do I apply for a voucher for my water usage?

    If you are facing financial difficulty as a result of the bushfires, you may be eligible for vouchers. The vouchers are equivalent to $25 per voucher for offset against water usage charges through the Payment Assistance Scheme.

    To discuss your account and find out more information, contact Shoalhaven Water on 4429 3214 and select option 2.

    For more information visit Shoalhaven Water's Payment Assistance web site.


    How do I apply for motor vehicle related concessions?

    Registration and licensing concessions and refunds are available if your vehicle or other relevant documentation has been lost, damaged or destroyed during the bushfires.

    • Replacement cards (driver licences, NSW Photo Cards or Mobility Parking Scheme cards) will be issued for free. 
    • NSW Photo Cards are posted to customers generally within 5 business days.
    • Driver licence holders will receive a receipt which will act as a temporary licence for a period of 30 days until their photo card is received.
    For more information visit Service NSW.

    How do I apply for a rainwater water tank rebate?

    If you are connected to the town water supply, you may be eligible for a $500 rainwater tank rebate for a newly purchased and installed tank.

    To be eligible:

    • obtain consent to install (from Council’s Development & Compliance team)
    • the tank has a total capacity greater than 2000 litres
    • the owner was not required to install a tank as part of their development consent (BASIX requirement introduced in 2004).
    • one rebate per property.
    How to Apply?

    Complete the online Rainwater Tank Rebate form available on Shoalhaven Water's website.

    For more information visit the Shoalhaven Water Rain Water Tank Rebates website.

    How do I apply for a community grant?

    Local organisations in bushfire affected communities are invited to apply for grant funding for grassroots community activities aimed at strengthening social connections, emotional wellbeing, resilience and to assist communities to recover and heal.

    Under the Supporting the Mental Health of Australians Affected by Bushfires measure, funding of up to $10,000 is available for small to medium community groups and organisations.

    Applications are open from Wednesday, 5 February 2020 until the funding is exhausted.

    Apply online through the Funding for Bushfire Affected Communities website.

    For more information on community Grants visit the Bushfire Recovery Community Grants Guidelines website.

BUILDINGS AND REBUILDING

    There was an asbestos warning sign on my property, but it has now been removed and replaced by orange webbing. Is my property safe to enter?

    The asbestos risk has been assessed and the property is safe regarding this. However, structural issues may exist and therefore Council does not recommend entering the property.

    If it isn’t structurally safe, what steps do I need to take to be able to access my property?

    Engineering assessment is not a Council function. Those with insurance should contact their insurance companies who will be able to provide engineers to assess the structural integrity.

    If you do not have insurance, contact Council. We may be able to refer you to Public Works who may provide some assistance. This however, will be dealt with on a case by case basis.

    Will the Government help me to clean up my property?

    The NSW Government is coordinating the clean-up of residences and businesses impacted by the NSW bushfires. This includes both insured and uninsured properties.

    For more information and to register for help with your clean-up visit NSW Bushfire Clean-Up.


    Can I view my property file / house plans or can my builder?

    Property owners can access their property file and house plans through Council at any time. Authorised representatives, with a signed authorisation from the property owner, may also access these files.

    How do I make a Development Application (DA) to build?

    The steps to lodging a development application (DA) and the assessment process  are published on the Council Developments Steps webpage. 

    Will DA fees be waived or reduced when it comes to rebuilding my home?

    Council has waived all fees in relation to applications to rebuild buildings damaged in the recent bushfires.

    What is the Red Cross Rebuild Grant?

    A $20,000 grant is available to assist with the early stages of rebuild planning, including building plans, council fees and safety assessments. It is open to home owners whose primary place of residence was destroyed.

    For more information, including how to apply, visit the Red Cross Recovering from Emergencies website.

    What applications will I need to make to rebuild my home?

    If your building has approval (development consent) and you want to replace it with the same building that was approved, you will only need a Construction Certificate (building approval) that will require the new building to comply with current building standards.

    If your building has approval (development consent) and you want to replace it with a building that is very similar to the previous building you will need a modification to the original development consent and a  Construction Certificate (building approval) that will require the new building to comply with current building standards.

    If your building has approval (development consent) and you want to replace it with a building that is significantly different you will need a new development consent and a Construction Certificate (building approval) that will require the new building to comply with current building standards.

    If your building was approved under older legislation (prior to 1980) or existed before planning provisions began in 1964 you will need a new development consent and a Construction Certificate (building approval) that will require the new building to comply with current building standards.

    Will I need a new Basix Certificate?

    If you need a new development application you will need a new Basix Certificate

    If you need a modification of an existing development approval that includes a Basix Certificate you will need a new Basix Certificate


    What bushfire requirements will apply to my new building?

    The requirements of the current Planning for Bushfire Protection will apply to any new buildings in mapped bushfire prone areas and the Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) will determine the specific requirements.

    If you are not in a mapped bushfire prone area you are strongly encouraged to build to BAL 12.5 level.

    A BAL Certificate can be applied for to provide you with the BAL for your proposed building on your land. Download the Application for a BAL Risk Assessment Certificate. 


    Can I lodge one application for all the buildings on my land to be replaced?

    Yes. You can lodge one application for all the buildings or separate applications if you would prefer to do so.


    My septic system is damaged, what do I need to do to have it fixed?

    Contact Council’s Environmental Officers to arrange an inspection and to identify the quickest process for allowing the repairs to be carried out.

OFFERING REBUILD SERVICE SUPPORT

    How can I offer my services to help the rebuild?

    Building Angels is providing support to rebuild homes for those experiencing financial hardship. 

    If you would like to offer your services you will be assisting Building Angel's charitable purpose and helping to rebuild not just a home, but the lives of those that have lost everything.  

    Architects, Consultants and Tradespersons are all welcome!

    Register by completing the online Bushfire Relief Rebuild form

    How can I help the bushfire rebuild if i'm a builder or trade supplier?

    The NSW Government has established a supplier list that coves all kinds of services.

    The purpose of this database to connect buyers with regional suppliers and vice versa. It assists buyers to give first preference to an appropriate local supplier. Any information gathered that is not commercial-in-confidence will be publicly available on the ProcurePoint.

    To register just answer a few simple online questions.

    ICN Gateway also has an online database for Australian suppliers.For more information, including how to register, visit ICN Gateway.



FINANCIAL SUPPORT

    What fees have Council waived for those affected by the bushfires?

    Yes. Council waives the following fees and charges for eligible properties:

    • Interest accruing on the rates installments issued after December 2019 until 30 June 2021
    • Development Application
    • Construction Certificate
    • Complying Development Certificate
    • Principal Certifier Inspections
    • Final Occupation Certificates
    • All Plumbing and Drainage inspection fees
    • Section 68 applications under the Local Government Act, 1993
    • Section 138 applications and inspections under the Local Government Act, 1993
    • All archiving and associated administration fees (record search, document management, etc.)
    • Bushfire Attack Level Certificates
    • Advertising fees
    • Replacement cost of reflective rural property number plate signs
    • Retail food inspection fees for routine inspections scheduled before 30 June 2020
    • Swimming pool inspection fees for routine inspections scheduled before 30 June 2020
    • Caravan parks s68 applications (renewal to operate, installation applications, notice of completions)
    • Notice under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act fees
    • Tree removal application fees
    • Green waste and spoiled food tipping fees until 30 January 2020

    Where do I find a Disaster Welfare Assistance Point?


    If you have been impacted by the fires and have immediate needs such as shelter, food or water, please visit and register at one of the following Disaster Welfare Assistance Points for assistance.

    • Shoalhaven Council Front Desk, 42 Bridge Road, Nowra, Open 9am-4pm

    If you are unable to get to the Disaster Welfare Assistance Point please call the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444.


    How much is the Disaster Recovery Payment?

    Commonwealth Government Disaster Recovery Payment is $1,000 per adult and $400 per child for people adversely affected by bushfires. 

    For more information visit the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment website or call Human Services on 180 22 66.

    Am I eligible for the Disaster Recovery Payment?

    NSW Government Disaster Relief Grants are available for eligible individuals and families whose homes and essential household contents have been damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster.

    To be eligible for this grant you must:

    • be a low-income earner and meet an income assets test
    • demonstrate that the affected home is your principal place of residence
    • not be covered by insurance
    • demonstrate that the damage was caused by the disaster
    • lodge the application within four months of the disaster occurring 

    For more information visit Disaster Recovery Payment or call Human Services on 180 22 66.

    What is the Disaster Recovery Allowance?

    Disaster Recovery Allowance is a short term payment to help you if a declared disaster directly affects your income.

    It is payable for a maximum of 13 weeks from the date you lose income as a direct result of the NSW bushfires.

    For more information about eligibility and how to claim visit Disaster Recovery Allowance or call Human Services 180 22 66.

    Is there any financial assistance available for rebuilding?

    A $20,000 grant is available to assist with the early stages of rebuild planning, including building plans, council fees and safety assessments. It is open to home owners whose primary place of residence was destroyed.

    The Red Cross Residence Repair Grant provides $5000 to help cover the cost of water tanks, septic and power poles.

    For more information, including how to apply, visit the Red Cross Recovering from Emergencies website.

    How do I find out about Volunteer Firefighters financial support?

    The volunteer firefighter payment is for eligible volunteer firefighters who are self-employed or employed by small and medium businesses, and have lost income.

    The NSW Government is administering the Australian Government's Volunteer Firefighters Financial Support Program, which is designed to help volunteer firefighters who have been called out for more than 10 days since 1 July 2019.

    Payments of up to $300 per day, with a total cap of $6000, is available in the 2019–2020 financial year. The payments are tax-free and not means tested.

    For more information including how to apply visit Service NSW - Apply for the Volunteer Firefighter Payment.

    Are there any concessions for vehicle registration, number plates and licence replacements?

    Registration and licensing concessions and refunds are available if your vehicle or other relevant documentation has been lost, damaged or destroyed during the bushfires.

    • Replacement cards (driver licences, NSW Photo Cards or Mobility Parking Scheme cards) will be issued for free. 
    • NSW Photo Cards are posted to customers generally within 5 business days.
    • Driver licence holders will receive a receipt which will act as a temporary licence for a period of 30 days until their photo card is received.
    For more information visit Service NSW.

    Can I get help from my financial institution?

    A number of financial institutions are offering bushfire financial assistance programs to their customers. The aim is to offer immediate practical help to assist customers to manage the impact of natural disasters on their finances.

    Financial assistance may include:

    • assistance with temporary accommodation
    • food and clothing
    • deferred loan repayment arrangements
    • deferred credit card repayments
    • personal loans to purchase replacement goods at discounted interest rate and no establishment fees
    • waived interest rate adjustments on term deposit withdrawals
    • Disaster Relief Packages to support volunteer firefighters.

    Assistance for business customers may include:

    • loan restructuring without incurring the usual bank establishment fees
    • affected business customers with merchant facilities may be eligible to receive monthly terminal access fee waivers
    Please contact your financial institution to find out what is available.

    For information on Disaster Relief Grants for household contents and structural repairs visit the Justice Office of Emergency Management website.

SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT

    Is there support for bushfire impacted businesses?

    Service NSW is working in collaboration with federal, state and local government to bring together all the support and services available to help small businesses get back on their feet.

    An additional $10,000 grant and simplified access to existing loans and other services for small businesses have now been announced.

    The Bushfire Affected Small Business Rebuild package will ensure small businesses devastated by the recent bushfires receive immediate support tailored to their individual circumstances.

    For more information visit the National Bushfire Recovery Agency website.


    Is there any financial assistance for small businesses?

    Yes. Disaster Recovery Grants of up to $15,000 are available to small businesses and not-for-profit organisations in Local Government Areas affected by the NSW bushfires.

    For more information, including how to apply, visit Disaster Recovery Grants.

    How are eligible small businesses defined?

    Small businesses are defined as having less than 20 full-time employees.

    Businesses must have experienced a 40 per cent drop in revenue over a three-month period, compared to the previous year, as a result of the bushfires.

    What can the grant be used for?

    The grants are intended to help cover business costs at the discretion of small business owners. This may include utilities, salaries, rent, or financial advice.

    What other assistance is available?

    Access to existing loans and other services for small businesses impacted by recent bushfires are being improved.

    Changes to documentation requirements have been made to make it easier to access concessional loans and recovery grants up to $50,000. And we’re providing more face-to-face support in recovery centres.

    What changes have been made to concessional loans?

    The National Bushfire Recovery Agency is continuing to work with its state partners to remove barriers and improve access to concessional loans especially simplifying access to concessional loans up to $50,000.

    Will the Government help me to clean up my damaged business property?

    The NSW Government is coordinating the clean-up of residences and businesses impacted by the NSW bushfires. This includes both insured and uninsured properties.

    For more information and to register for help with your clean-up visit NSW Bushfire Clean-Up.

    Can I move a shipping container or portable office onto land if my commercial or industrial building has been damaged by a bushfire?

    The NSW government has modified the regulations around installing and temporarily using a shipping container or portable office for persons affected by a bushfire.

    The installation and temporary use of a shipping container or portable office on land is permitted without any prior approval for land in a business or industrial zone on which a building has been significantly damaged by a bushfire.

    What conditions apply to installing a shipping container or portable office onto my land?

    There are detailed conditions set out online in Clause 2.72C&D of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.  

    Shipping containers or portable offices:
    ·   can be installed:within 2 years of the bushfire state of emergency declaration
    ·  must be removed no more than 2 years after instalation
    ·  can only to be used for a commercial or industrial purpose that the bushfire damaged building was       used for in the previous 12 months
    ·  be safe and structurally stable
    ·  be a maximum length 12.5m, max height 3m and max width 2.5m for shipping containers 
    ·  be a maximum area 36m2 and max height 3m for portable offices
    ·  be clear of any sewer main to specified distances
    ·  be clear of a side boundaries by:
       o  residential adjoining - 5m
       o  non-residential adjoining - 1m
    ·  are not more than:
       o  2 shipping containers on the lot
       o  2 portable offices on the lot
       o  1 shipping container and 1 portable office on the lot
    ·  include a number of other provisions relating to safe egress, easements, stormwater and plumbing

    Is there financial assistance for primary producers?

    The Primary Producer Assistance provides up to $15,000 in recovery grants, concessional loans and transport subsidies for eligible primary producers. 

    For further information visit the NSW Rural Assistance Authority or call 1800 678 593.

    Will licences, permits and certificates be replaced free of charge?

    Yes, The replacement of the following licences, permits and certificates destroyed or lost during the bushfires is free.

    Fair Trading

    • home building: contractor, qualified supervisor, tradesperson
    • property and real estate
    • motor vehicle dealer or repairers
    • pawnbrokers and second-hand dealers
    • tattoo parlour or tattooist
    • owner-builder
    • tow truck.

    To apply for a replacement card  complete the Application for a Duplicate Licence, Certificate or Permit form. Make sure you note the reason for the card replacement is that it was lost in the bushfires. Also provide the home address if it is different to your nominated address.

    Free Owner-Builder Permit where you opt to rebuild or repair your home damaged or destroyed by a bushfire (all other standard requirements and associated development approvals apply).

    Safework NSW 

    • white card
    • high risk work licence
    • explosives licence
    • asbestos and demolition licence
    • plant registrations.

    For further assistance, visit your nearest Service NSW Centre or call 13 77 88.


    Can I register my business to help with the recovery effort?

    Yes. The NSW Government has established a supplier list that coves all kinds of goods or services, including those that are not already available from government.

    The purpose is to connect buyers with regional suppliers and vice versa to help buyers give first preference to a local supplier based in the same region.

    Register now at eTendering.

    Constructors wishing to register your interest in cleanup work, contact or register at constructionselection@finance.nsw.gov.au.

    The Insurance Council of Australia have also created a Bushfire Trades Register where you can register your business.

    Your business registration will help users to easily find your details and other trade businesses they need.

    Register your business through the Insurance Council of Australia's Bushfire Trades Register.

BUSHFIRE RECOVERY CLEAN-UP

    Where can I find information about the bushfire recovery clean-up?

    The NSW Government and the Commonwealth are jointly covering the clean-up costs of residential and eligible commercial properties destroyed in the NSW bushfires since 1 July 2019. 

    Laing O’Rourke Australia has been appointed as the managing contractor, responsible for managing the clean-up of properties across NSW, working with Public Works Advisory (PWA). 

    Qualified local contractors and suppliers will be engaged, where possible, to deliver clean-up services to ensure the clean-up operation maximises local knowledge and expertise and assists local economic recovery. 

    Delivering these services means impacted property owners will not have to pay for debris, including potentially hazardous materials, to be removed and disposed of. 
    Impacted property owners who would like their property cleared need to register at Service NSW or call 13 77 88. 

    Registering helps deploy resources to communities and enables owners to provide consent for crews to undertake work on their property.

    Bushfire impacted property owners must register online at Service NSW or call 13 77 88. 


    What clean-up work will be covered?

    Work will include:

    • removal of known hazardous materials, including asbestos
    • removal of materials destroyed by bushfire and hazardous trees
    • with consent of building owners, removal of concrete slab foundations. 

    Where insurance companies have commenced clean-up works, Government will cover the reasonable cost of work already underway or completed for eligible property owners. 

    What properties are eligible?

    Government is covering the clean-up cost of NSW properties used for residential, small business or primary production purposes that were destroyed by bushfire after 1 July 2019.

    This clean-up assistance is in addition to the small business and primary producer grants.

    Definitions of a small business and primary producer used for bushfire grant applications also apply for this program. 

    Clean-up costs for all large and corporate businesses will be met by owners or their insurer. Insurers can choose to opt-in to the clean-up program and reimburse Government for services. 

    Laing O’Rourke will contact registered property owners to discuss damage and assess eligibility. Where insurance companies have already commenced clean-up works for eligible properties, Government will cover the reasonable cost of work already underway or completed. 

    What if my property was damaged, but not destroyed? What about destroyed or damaged outbuildings?

    Government will pay the clean-up costs for outbuildings that are uninhabitable or unusable and are located within the vicinity of primary residences or business operations.

    Individual site assessments will be required by trained and licensed contractors to determine safety requirements and eligibility. 

    This program focuses on safety hazards and issues that could impede people rebuilding their homes.

    Will septic tanks be included in the clean-up?

    Septic tanks are excluded unless they present a safety issue. 

    When will clean-up work start?

    Laing O’Rourke are making contact and have begun planning clean-up work with property owners. 

    We encourage owners of destroyed properties to register for the clean-up with Service NSW on 13 77 88 as soon as possible. 

    We expect most residential properties will be substantially cleared by 30 June 2020. It may take longer to clean up isolated properties in remote areas and regions where there is still active fire. 

    Safety is the number one priority and before any clearing work begins, we need to make sure that hazardous materials, such as asbestos are identified, contained and properly disposed of.

    Clearing work has begun on those properties have that were made safe which included ensuring all impacted properties in close proximity were made safe, to minimise the risk of clearing work accidentally spreading contamination from nearby locations. 

    How will the clean-up process work?

    To opt-in, bushfire-impacted property owners must register online at Service NSW or call 13 77 88.

    Once this is completed:

    • Laing O’Rourke will contact registered property owners to discuss damage and assess eligibility
    • Laing O’Rourke will meet the property owner on site once the area is declared safe
    • The property owner will approve scope of works
    • Clean-up of the property will commence
    • Property owners will confirm completion of agreed scope of works.

    Which properties will be cleaned up first?

    Work will be undertaken simultaneously on the North Coast, South Coast, Snowy Monaro, Snowy Valleys and other impacted communities across the State. 

    The following factors will be considered in determining which properties will be prioritised for clearing:  

    • Properties where there is safe access to affected areas, including no ongoing fire events
    • Properties with known hazardous materials, particularly those close to neighbours or vulnerable community facilities, e.g. schools, hospitals and town centres
    • Where there is a strong community need and property owners have registered and given permission for works to be conducted on private property
    • Availability of demolition contractors to conduct the works
    • Availability of landfill for disposal of debris.

    Can I access my property prior to demolition?

    Due to occupational health and safety concerns, you will not be able to access the property during the clean-up process to remove items yourself. 

    When Laing O’Rourke contacts you about accessing your property, they will discuss how you would like any personal items uncovered to be managed, as well as which structures you would like retained, and which removed. This will be documented in written property access agreements for your records. 

    Why was Laing O’Rourke Australia appointed rather than multiple contractors?

    Laing O’Rourke is a highly respected multinational company with world-class construction expertise, the skills and equipment needed to do the job quickly, at scale and safely.

    Laing O’Rourke has great community engagement experience and understands the importance of keeping communities informed and engaging local tradespeople and suppliers.

    Appointing more than one managing contractor would not speed up clean-up operations.

    How do local subcontractors and suppliers register interest?

    Laing O’Rourke will work with qualified local subcontractors and suppliers to take advantage of local knowledge and expertise.

    Local subcontractors who have already contacted Public Works Advisory, Service NSW and NSW Procurement, or are already prequalified on a relevant State Government scheme, will have their
    details provided to Laing O’Rourke.

    Interested subcontractors are also encouraged to register on the NSW Government Bushfire Supplier Portal.

    Have insurance companies been informed of the arrangements?

    The Insurance Council of Australia has committed that insurers will maximise the funds available in their customers’ policies for rebuilding. 

    Will impacted insured and uninsured property owners have to pay for any part of the cleanup?

    Government will cover the full clean-up cost for insured and uninsured eligible property owners: that is properties that are used as residences, or for small business or primary production.

    What happens if local waste management and landfill were destroyed by fire or cannot handle the volume of waste?

    Given the significant volume of waste, a waste management plan has been developed for each of the regions. 

    The waste management plan evaluates the capacity of existing local landfills and any need to construct new local waste management facilities, or transport waste to other facilities where there is not sufficient local capacity.

    Will all the waste end up in landfill?

    It is expected that about 60 per cent will go to landfill and 40 per cent of all waste volumes will be diverted from landfill and recycled.

    Where and how will the materials, including asbestos, be disposed?

    Debris will be disposed of in licensed tipping sites across the state. All waste disposal will be overseen by the NSW Environment Protection Authority. 

    The amount of materials being recycled will be a priority. 

    Licensed contractors engaged in clean-up activities are subject to a compliance code for removing asbestos, which includes strict measures to control dust that may contain asbestos.

RATES ASSISTANCE

    Can I get financial assistance with my rates?

    Ratepayers affected by the bushfire who are unable to pay their rates because of pending insurance claim payouts or other hardship circumstances may be able to pay outstanding rates and charges over an extended period.

    Although, under the Local Government Act 1993 Council cannot waive rates, you may be eligible for a waiver or refund through the NSW Government.

    How can I claim a waiver or rates refund from the NSW Government?

    If you own a property impacted by the recent bushfires you may be eligible to have your Council rates waived or refunded by the NSW Government. 

    When lodging a Council rates waiver or refund please take a a copy of your rates notice to a NSW Services Centre and complete a lodgement form.

    If I don't pay my rates by the due date will I be charged interest?

    If you are unable to pay the Third Rates Instalment by the due date Council will waive any interest accrued until 30 June 2020. Flexible Payment Arrangements may also be available through our Hardship Policy..

    Will my pensioner concession continue?

    If you are a pensioner whose property has been damaged or destroyed by the bushfires, your pensioner concession will continue until 30 June 2020.

    Will my rates be reduced because I no longer need kerbside bin services?

    To cancel you kerbside complete an online Bin Service Request. After the cancellation has been processed you will receive a letter advising that the rates adjustment has been made along with the amended instalment amounts.

    How do I update my mailing address?

    Please contact Council's Rates Team on 4429 3210 during bussiness hours Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays) between 9am and 5pm. Alternatively you may complete your change of address online.

    Who can I talk to about my rates?

    Please contact Council's Rates Team on 4429 3210 during business hours Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays) between 9am and 5pm.

INSURANCE

    How do I claim insurance if my property is damaged or lost?

    If you are insured: 

    • Talk to your insurance company as soon as possible about how to make a claim. 
    • Take photos or video of damage to your property and possessions as evidence for your claim. 
    • If you have clearance from your insurer and evidence for your claim, you can start cleaning up. 

    The Insurance Council of Australia can be contacted with any questions, complaints or concerns about insurance on 1800 734 621

    Legal Aid NSW can provide free legal advice and assistance to people affected by disasters on a range of issues, including insurance. 

    Call Legal Aid on 1800 801 529 or LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529.

    What do I do if I'm uninsured?

    If you are uninsured: NSW Government Disaster Relief Grants are available for eligible individuals and families. 

    To be eligible for this assistance you must:

    • be a low-income earner and meet an income assets test 
    • demonstrate that the affected home is your principal place of residence 
    • not be covered by insurance  
    • demonstrate that the damage was caused by the disaster 
    • lodge the application within four months of the disaster occurring Disaster Welfare Assistance Line: 1800 018 444 (8.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday).
    For more information on financial support visit NSW Emergency NSW Government Support.

WASTE

FENCING

    Can I volunteer to help Blaze Aid rebuild bushfire damaged rural fencing?


    Volunteers are needed to help Blaze Aid perform the great work they do. Volunteers are needed for fencing and assisting and with kitchen assistance, administration, tool shed maintenance, camp maintenance and cleaning. 

    Volunteer registrations will be accepted in person at Milton Showground basecamp - 107 Croobyar Road, Milton, from Saturday 1 February or by calling Camp Co-Ordinator Patrick Berkery on 0414 710 165 from Monday, 3rd February.

    For registering at the  Kangaroo Valley camp please call Douglas Chang on 0491 763 447 or email blazeaid.kvalley@gmail.com.


    What can I do to support Blaze Aid base camps?

    Donations of items that may assist with setting up camp and administration processes are also being sought, 

    Your donations in helping Blaze Aid base camps to become established would greatly be appreciated by the Blaze Aid team and the local community.

    if you can help please contact Blaze Aid directly by emailing admin@blazeaid.com.au or call 0418 530 471.


    What do I do if my property fencing faces public land?

    The NSW Government has committed $209 million to help bushfire-affected landholders with the cost of rebuilding boundary fences adjoining public lands.

    Private landholders who share a boundary with public land and were impacted by the Northern and Southern fires of late 2019 and early 2020 are eligible to receive up to $5,000 per kilometre to contribute to the replacement of damaged boundary fences.

    Public lands includes:

    • National parks
    • Forestry Corporation land
    • Traveling stock reserves
    • Crown reserves, tenured roads and leases
    • Roads managed by Roads and Maritime Services or Local Government.

    Grants can be issued retrospectively to cover costs already incurred by landholders replacing fire damaged fencing where a boundary is shared with public lands.

    For more information, including how to apply visit the NSW Government's Supporting Our Neighbours - Public Land Boundary Fencing Program website or call 1300 778 080.

    Is there any assistance to replace fire-damaged fences that boarder a National park?

    National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) is offering to purchase and supply an agreed quantity of fencing materials to reconstruct national park boundary fences.

    To take up this offer please contact the environment line on 1300 361 967 or email info@environment.nsw.gov.au with your details to be put in touch with your local NPWS Office.

    You can also complete the Fencing Assistance Form and return it via email info@environment.nsw.gov.au or post to your local NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Office.

    For further information visit Assistance for Fire Damaged Fences or contact your local NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Office.


    What fencing assistance is available for bushfire affected farms?

    Shoalhaven farmers who have suffered fencing damage as a result of the Currowan bushfire can receive help to rebuild their fences with the assistance from the volunteer organisation Blaze Aid

    Council have invited Blaze Aid to set up a basecamp at Milton Showground - 107 Croobyar Road, Milton and will use the area as their headquarters for the duration of the project. Blaze Aid work in disaster-affected areas for many months, not only helping individuals and families, but also helping to lift the spirits of local communities.

    Milton Basecamp will be open for farmer registrations seeking assistance to help build fencing on their property from Saturday, 1st February. Farmers can visit Milton Basecamp in person to register or call Camp Co-Ordinator Patrick Berkery on 0487 923 455..

ACCOMMODATION

    Is there any housing assistance following the bushfire?

    The NSW Government has established the Bushfire Housing Assistance Service to support people who are temporarily or permanently displaced as a result of the NSW bushfires.

    The Service is available for all people across the state affected by the recent bushfires.

    You can access this service by:

    • calling the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444
    • contact or visit your local Department of Communities and Justice Housing Office Find a Housing Office.
    For more information visit Bushfire Housing Assistance Service.

    Where can I find information about being a tenant affected by the bushfires?

    The NSW State Government is providing a range of services and programs to support people that have been affected by the bushfires. If you or anyone you know has been impacted by bushfires they may be eligible for financial assistance through one of these programs.

    For more information about assistance contact the NSW  Disaster Welfare Assistance Team on 1800 018 444 or read this Fact Sheet. You can call the Southern Cross Housing Communities Assist Team on 02 4413 1102. Members of our team will assist you to find the support that is needed.  

    If a Southern Cross Housing property is damaged by fire, please contact our 24 hour maintenance line on 1300 757885.

    If you are unable to return to your home due to damage caused by fire, Southern Cross Housing can work with you to find suitable alternative accommodation until your home is repaired. Please call 02 4421 5145 during office hours, or for assistance after hours contact the Department of Communities and Justice Housing Contact Centre on 1800 422 322.

    What is the temporary accommodation solution?

    The NSW Government is partnering with Minderoo Foundation’s Fire Fund to provide temporary accommodation pods for those in need to stay on their own property while they rebuild.

    The pods are stand-alone units with built in electricity, water, cooking and bathroom facilities. Minderoo Foundation’s Fire Fund is responsible for the delivery and installation of the pods.

    How many pods will be made available?

    More than 100 temporary accommodation pods will be made available.

    Who is eligible for a temporary accommodation pod?

    Eligibility requirements are currently being developed, however the pods have been designed particularly with the needs of rural and remote bushfire victims where their homes and sheds have been destroyed and no alternative accommodation is available.

    Minderoo Foundation’s Fire Fund and the NSW Government will work closely with local councils to ensure the pods go to those most in need.

    Is there a fee to use a pod?

    No. The pods are available rent free. Occupants will only pay for the utility costs such as electricity and water.

    How many people can be live in a temporary accommodation?

    The pods can accommodate individuals, couples or small families of up to four people.

    How long are the pods available to live in?

    The accommodation pods will be provided to people for up to two years. This ties into the recent planning amendments that allow temporary accommodation structures on private land for up to two years. 

    The pods are to meet temporary accommodation needs and are not intended for long term use. The pods will be made available free of charge under a lease agreement with Minderoo Foundation and NSW Government.

    Is planning approval needed for the pod to be placed on private property?

    No. A range of planning changes were implemented to assist communities recover from the NSW bushfires. 

    More details on these changes can be found on the Planning NSW.

    How soon can a pod be delivered?

    Minderoo Foundation and the NSW Government are working with the manufacturer on a plan for the delivery of the pods that include expected timeframes.

    Due to the urgent need, the pods will be delivered as quickly and as safely as possible.

    How can people I apply for a temporary accommodation pod?

    The process to express a need or interest to receive a pod is being developed.

    Through the application process for the Disaster Relief grants, we already have an understanding of those who are most in need. We are working closely with key stakeholders such as Local Councils and Department of Housing, and Minderoo Foundation’s own presence in impacted NSW communities to determine where the pods are needed.

    What happens when the pod is no longer needed?

    At the end of the lease, or earlier if the occupant has secured alternate accommodation, the Minderoo Foundation will work with the occupant to arrange for the removal of the pod free of charge.

    How much is this program costing?

    The NSW Government and the Minderoo Foundation will each invest up to $2.5 million into the program.

    Where are the pods be manufactured?

    The pods are being manufactured in South Australia by Australian Portable Camps (APC), based at Monarto. 

    APC have been working with the Minderoo Foundation Fire Fund since early January 2020 to manufacture the pods for a self-contained and cost effective temporary accommodation solution.

    Who are Minderoo Foundation?

    Mindaroo Foundation was established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001. Minderoo Foundation is a modern philanthropic organisation that aims to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. 

    Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with eight key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.

    Fire Fund responds directly to the Australian bushfire crisis of 2019/20.

    What is Minderoo's Fire Fund?

    Minderoo Foundation's Fire Fund was launched early in 2020 with a pledge of $70 million to help rebuild communities, revitalise local economies and develop a long-term blueprint for fire resilience in Australia.

    The Foundation is on the ground in bushfire-affected areas, listening to what communities need to help deliver practical solutions. 

    Fire Fund has three distinct focus areas:
    • Response - mobilising volunteers to support clean up and recovery efforts in response to a direct requests. $10 million is allocated to support the deployment of volunteers into fire-affected areas.

    • Recovery - direct, on-the-ground support for affected communities as they rebuild, with a focus on grassroots projects. $10 million is allocated to deliver practical infrastructure solutions.

    • Resilience - a long-term resilience plan bringing together leading experts to develop a globally relevant National blueprint for fire and disaster resilience. This program aims to pilot new practices and invest in evidence-based techniques which will have relevance to bushfire and natural disaster-prone regions around the world. This global effort engages contributors and funders to raise approximately $500 million. Minderoo Foundation is kick-starting this work with a commitment of $50 million.

MOVABLE DWELLINGS FOR BUSHFIRE ACCOMMODATION

    Can I move a caravan or other temporary dwelling onto my land if my house has been destroyed?

    The NSW government has modified the regulations around living in temporary accommodation on land. 

    The installation of any movable dwelling and associated structure on land is permitted without any prior approval for people who have been displaced because of a bushfire. 

    The dwelling must be maintained in a safe and healthy condition and be removed within two years after it is installed.

    What does 'maintained in a safe and healthy condition' mean?

    This means that the movable dwelling is structurally safe and located in a safe location on firm ground and provides cooking, washing and toilet facilities. This may need to be separate from the movable dwelling if it is not self contained.

    Separate facilities may need some form of approval from Council depending on the circumstances.

    What is considered a movable dwelling?

    A movable dwelling is:
    • any tent, or any caravan or other van or other portable device (whether on wheels or not), used for human habitation
    • a manufactured home
    • any conveyance, structure or thing of a class or description prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this definition.

    Does the movable dwelling have to be on my land?

    No. The regulations do not specify that it has to be your land. It must however, be for the accommodation of people displaced because of a bushfire.

    Can I stay long term in a caravan parks or camping ground?

    The regulations have also been changed so the owner, manager, operator or caretaker of a caravan park or camping ground is permitted to allow people to stay for an extended period of up two years if they have been displaced because of a bushfire.

    Please discuss this with the caravan park or camping ground you intend to stay at.

    What should I consider before installing or accepting a movable dwelling offered to me?

    You need to consider if:
    • the current condition of the movable dwelling, especially if it is second-hand
    • how I will transport the movable dwelling to my property
    • it is registered
    • it is road worthy
    • it is insured 
    • there a working smoke detector 
    • it can it be towed to the site
    • it needs to be taken by truck to the site and lifted on and off
    • it is to be lifted, what are the condition of the surrounding roads, i.e. are they accessible by trucks or heavy vehicles
    • utility connections are required
    • there is an appropriate flat surface on the property, foundations required, there is room for rebuilding and the movable dwelling
    • the ownership of the movable dwelling needs to be transferred
    • a complete a check on the Personal Property Security Register has been undertaken to ensure there is no money owing on the movable dwelling. Search results may include the vehicle's description, registration information and if it is stolen or written off. There is a small fee payable for this service
    • the movable dwelling is available for your use longterm.
    For information on caravan ownership and tenancy in caravan parks visit Fair Trading.

WATER ACCOUNT ASSISTANCE

    What assistance can I get with my water account?

    Quarterly Account Waiver – Funded by Shoalhaven Water

    Water account holders who had a property that NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) determined as damaged or destroyed have had their 3rd Quarter Account water and sewer charges (i.e. issued between January and March) waived. Information was sent to eligible customers directly. 

    Water Usage Rebate

    To assist with the cost of water used to prepare and protect property, a water usage rebate is available. Customers who were advised by the RFS that they should consider leaving or that is was too late to leave are eligible to apply. The rebate applies to accounts issued between January and March.

    The rebate value is the increase in water usage, calculated on the daily average consumption, compared to the same time last year.

    Please note that applications close 01 June and can be made online through the Shoalhaven Water Rebates and Offers web page.

    Please note, rebates will be applied as credit on water accounts and are not refundable or transferable.

    To find out more, please contact Shoalhaven Water’s Customer Service Team on 4429 3214 or by emailing water@shoalhaven.nsw.gov.au.

    Quarterly Account Waiver – Funded by Service NSW

    Shoalhaven City Council has successfully petitioned the NSW Government to provide further support to our bushfire affected customers.

    All water account holders who were eligible for the 6 months of Rates relief, delivered through Service NSW, will now also have their quarter 4 (April – June) water and sewer availability charges credited. 

    Please note, this does not cover water usage charges. Eligible customers will have information sent to them directly. If you have already paid your account, the relief payment will place your account into credit.

INQUIRY INTO THE 2019-2020 BUSHFIRE SEASON

    Where can I find information about the inquiry into the 2019-20 bushfire season?

    The NSW Government has commissioned an independent expert inquiry into the 2019-20 bushfire season to provide input to NSW ahead of the next bushfire season.

    The Inquiry welcomes submissions from bushfire-affected residents, emergency and support personnel, organisations and the general public.

    The deadline for submissions is 27 March 2020. This date will be extended for those directly impacted by the bushfires.

    For more information visit Make a Submission to the Bushfire Inquiry.

    What will the inquiry include?

    The Inquiry will consider and report to the Premier on:.

    1. The causes of, and factors contributing to, the frequency, intensity, timing and location of, bushfires in NSW in the 2019-20 bushfire season, including consideration of any role of weather, drought, climate change, fuel loads and human activity.

    2. The preparation and planning by agencies, government, other entities and the community for bushfires in NSW, including current laws, practices and strategies, and building standards and their application and effect.

    3. Responses to bushfires, particularly measures to control the spread of the fires and to protect life, property and the environment, including:
      • immediate management, including the issuing of public warnings
      • resourcing, coordination and deployment
      • equipment and communication systems.
    4. Any other matters that the inquiry deems appropriate in relation to bushfires.

      And to make recommendations arising from the Inquiry as considered appropriate, including on:
    5. Preparation and planning for future bushfire threats and risks.

    6. Land use planning and management and building standards, including appropriate clearing and other hazard reduction, zoning, and any appropriate use of indigenous practices.

    7. Appropriate action to adapt to future bushfire risks to communities and ecosystems.

    8. Emergency responses to bushfires, including overall human and capital resourcing.

    9. Coordination and collaboration by the NSW Government with the Australian Government, other state and territory governments and local governments.

    10. Safety of first responders.

    11. Public communication and advice systems and strategies.

    How can I make a submission?

    The deadline for submissions is 27 March 2020. This date will be extended for those directly impacted by the bushfires.

    You can also provide your feedback by:

    How will my submission be used?

    Your response and feedback will help to inform the Inquiry's work. 

    For more information visit Make a Submission to the Bushfire Inquiry and Inquiry's Terms of Reference

SEPTIC TANKS

    How do I know if my onsite sewage management system (septic tank) is damaged/destroyed and needs repairs?

    Damage to on-site sewage management systems (OSSMS) includes:

    ·  melted pipes

    ·  melted tanks

    ·  cracked tanks

    ·  melted control boxes

    ·  melting distribution pipes, connections and sprinklers

    ·  melted electrical connections.

    If you are unsure if your system has been damaged, please contact Council’s Environmental Services Section on 02 4429 3610 for assistance.

    Do I need to contact Council to report any damage to my system?

    Yes. The homeowner, plumber, service agent or contractors may contact Council and provide the following information:

    ·  name of the property owner(s)

    ·  address of the property owner(s)

    ·  phone number of the property owner(s)

    ·  service contractor details (if relevant)

    ·  details of damage

    ·  intended repairs to be completed.

    Do I need to get Council approval before I repair/replace my system?

    Minor repairs to existing systems, such as, “make safe” works, replacement of control boxes, irrigation sprinklers, semi-fixed surface pipes or signage, may be completed without Council approval. All other work requires Council approval.

    If Council approval is required, do I need to make an application?

    If approval is required for fire-damage caused to the residence or other structures on site, the repair/replacement of the on-site sewage management systems (OSSMS) will be included in this approval process to rectify the structures.

    Where the only work required is to repair/replace the damaged septic system (including tanks, pipework and disposal areas), Council may issue a Notice under the Protection of the Environment Operations (POEO) Act, 1997 to complete the works. Alternatively, you may choose to submit an application to complete drainage works under the Local Government Act, 1993.


    What work can I complete under the Notice?

    Notices will generally direct you to replace the septic system, as it was approved. If you wish to upgrade your system, you need to obtain a wastewater report prepared by a qualified environmental consultant (at your). The Notice then needs to be amended to include the upgrade, provided that the proposed system does not conflict with any existing conditions of development consent.

    A Notice will not be issued to repair/replace septic systems that were servicing dwellings or structures that were destroyed in the bushfire and are found to have been constructed without prior approval. However, a Notice may be issued to decommission the unapproved system.

    How do I remove my tanks if I'm not rebuilding?

    You need to Contact Council to register the damage to your system.

    Council will then coordinate an approval process to allow you to decommission the existing onsite sewage management system in accordance with NSW Health Advisory Note 3 – Destruction, Removal or Reuse of Septic Tanks, Collection Wells, Aerated Wastewater Treatment Systems and other Sewage Management Facilities.

    Do I need to pay any fees for the Notice or an application for approval?

    No. Council waived the  fees for bushfire affected properties. 

    This included fees for Clean-Up Notice administration under the POEO Act, 1997 and applications for approval to operate a system of sewage management.  

    For more information please contact Council by email at council@shoalhaven.nsw.gov.au or call (02) 4429 3111.


    What do I do if my tanks need to be emptied?

    Due to damage to the effluent treatment system, a clean out may be required to decommission the existing tank or to complete repairs. In this instance, please you need to organise a clean out by a licensed contractor (at your cost).

    Council provides the community with a contracted service for the clean out of septic tanks which is managed by Shoalhaven Water. If you choose to use this service, visit Shoalwater.nsw.gov.au/Your-Home/Effluent-Septic-Tanks/Septic-Tank-Cleanout-Request  to complete online form make your payment. You can also call Shoalhaven Water on (02) 4429 3214

    Please note: The fees for a septic tank clean out have not been waived by Council.

    Other providers can be found in the local Yellow Pages directory. Please provide Council with a copy of your receipt of service from your selected provider.

DONATIONS

TOURISM BUSINESSES

    Where can I find information about National Bushfire Recovery Agency Marketing Campaigns?

    The Government's National Bushfire Recovery Fund has announced a multi-faceted $76m tourism recovery package to encourage tourists to travel Australia, which includes:

    Domestic - $20m for #HolidayHereThisYear a domestic marketing campaign encouraging Aussies to travel domestically in 2020. Headed by Tourism Australia, in collaboration with the states and territories.

    Download the Toolkit and FAQs.

    To find out more visit Holiday Here This Year and see the video which features Cupitt's and Bannisters. 

    Regional - $10m for fire affected regions, to support around 10 projects up to $1m each. The aim is to create new attractions in fire affected areas and encourage visitors to return, while providing communities with a positive focus and an opportunity to strengthen identity.

    International - Create urgency among key markets that Australia is open for business and support diplomatic network. $25m to encourage bookings direct to destinations, $9.5m to bring media and conduct famils and $5m for public diplomacy. 

    Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) – $6.5m to get more businesses and buyers to ATE, Australia’s largest annual travel and tourism business-to-business event. Shoalhaven is attending this event in May. For more information visit ATE20.

RAINWATER TANKS

    What do I do if my rainwater tank has ash or other fire debris in it?

    You may find that windblown ash, debris, dead animals or fire retardants have affected your rainwater tank.

    If you haven’t already done so, disconnect the down pipes from your tank and run the first rainfall after the fire to waste if the roof has not been cleaned.

    Clean your roof to remove ash and debris, if this can be done safely and remove any dead animals in the guttering.

    Water testing is usually not necessary, as contamination is usually obvious by how it looks and smells. If the water is contaminated the tank should be drained, cleaned and refilled. Working inside a tank can be very dangerous. Professional tank cleaners are available in some areas or your local plumber may be able to provide this service.

    Filters and other water treatment equipment could be affected by debris. Refer to the manuals for your equipment or seek advice from the supplier on responding to problems.

    After drinking water has been captured or delivered, flush taps in the property to bring through the new clean water from the tank.

    For more information visit NSW Department of Health Rainwater and Bushfires.

    For additional advise, call the Environment Department, NSW Dept Health on 4221 6700.

    Is my tank water safe to drink?

    Rainwater may be contaminated by debris, dead animals, fire retardants, or large amounts of ash.

    The water may also be contaminated if:

      the tank has been burnt by fire and/or the internal lining material is damaged

      the plumbing to or from the tank is damaged

      the water level has increased due to water bombing.

    The presence of ash and debris in rainwater is unlikely to be a health risk but could affect the appearance and taste. Fire retardants currently used in Australia are of low toxicity but may also affect the appearance and taste of rainwater.

    Foe more information visit NSW Department of Health Rainwater and Bushfires.

    How can I disinfect contaminated rainwater?

    Rainwater can be disinfected by bringing the water to boil. A kettle with an automatic shut off switch can be used. Make sure the water is cool before drinking.

    If you can't boil the water, unscented household bleach (containing 4% – 5% available chlorine) may be used. Add 4 drops of bleach to 1 litre of contaminated rainwater, mix well, and allow to stand for 30 minutes before use.

    You should be able to smell the chlorine faintly 30 minutes after treating the water. If you can’t, you may need to add an additional similar amount of bleach.

    Can I use contaminated tank water?

    Your tank water may be contaminated if your rainwater tastes, looks or smells unusual. If you are concerned use an alternative safe water supply, such as bottled water, should be used for drinking, preparing food or ice, cleaning teeth and be given to animals until your tank can be cleaned and refilled.

    Depending on the degree of contamination, the rainwater may be suitable for toilet flushing, garden watering, washing clothes, firefighting or washing down surfaces. 

    In an emergency, when no other drinking water is available, rainwater can be decontaminated by boiling or using household bleach (see below). This may not improve the appearance or taste of the water.

    Using contaminated rainwater, with ash or other debris to fill swimming pools or in evaporative air conditioners, may clog filters and pumps. Contact the air conditioner, filter or pump manufacturer for advice.

    For more information visit NSW Department of Health Rainwater and Bushfires.

    Will Council clean my rainwater tank?

    No. This is not a service that Council provides.

    This service may be provided by your local plumber.

    If you choose to clean your tank yourself, please ensure you review the safety advice from NSW Department of Health Rainwater Tanks.

    If I clean my tank, will Council refill it for me?

    No. Council do not provide a refilling service.

    If the water in your rainwater tank has been contaminated, please see above sections Can I use contaminated water? and How do I disinfect my rainwater?

    Please call your local water carter to book in your next delivery and co-ordinate cleaning your tank.

    What financial assistance is available to recover the cost of cleaning and refilling of my tank?

    If you have lodged an insurance claim, the cleaning costs need to be included in your claim.

    Alternately, if you are uninsured, you may be eligible to claim financial assistance for the cost of repairing, cleaning or refilling your tank through the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment.

    To lodge a claim, please call Department of Human Services on 180 22 66. Phone lines are open 8 am to 8 pm (local time) Monday to Friday and 8 am to 5 pm (local time) Saturday and Sunday.

    For more information visit Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment.

    Is there any financial assistance to replace my rainwater tank?

    Yes. If you are connected to the town water supply, you may be eligible for a $500 rainwater tank rebate for a newly purchased and installed tank.

    To be eligible:

    • obtain consent to install (from Council’s Development & Compliance team)
    • the tank has a total capacity greater than 2000 litres
    • the owner was not required to install a tank as part of their development consent (BASIX requirement introduced in 2004).
    • one rebate per property.
    How to Apply?

    Complete the online Rainwater Tank Rebate form available on Shoalhaven Water's website.

    For more information visit the Shoalhaven Water Rain Water Tank Rebateswebsite.


WATER AND SEWER SERVICES

    How do pressure sewer systems work?

    Pressure Sewer Systems are small, on-property, units that collect, grind and pump household sewage into a pressurised reticulation system in the street. This then conveys the household sewage on to a treatment plant. 

    The pressure sewer unit and all relating components are owned and maintained by Shoalhaven Water in their entirety. Operations staff are currently making their way to all properties in the fire areas to assess damage to these systems and where not damaged but have no power, are being pumped out using generators. These generators are connected periodically to allow enough time to empty each system, then moved onto to subsequent properties to ensure everyone in turn is pumped out.

    What do I do if I have a Pressure Sewer System (E-One) which has been lost or damaged in the fires?

    If your E-One unit, boundary kit or control box have been damaged please contact Shoalhaven Water on on 4429 3214 (business hours) or 4421 3100 (after hours) so we can arrange the replacement of these units.


    If my unit is damaged will it overflow once the system comes back on?

    There are one-way valves in the boundary box at the connection point to the sewer main. This valve should prevent any sewage from entering your property from the sewer main. Shoalhaven Water staff are moving through the affected areas to ensure that the connection point is intact.

    What do I do if I have a Pressure Sewer System (E-One) which has not been damaged, but I don’t have power?

    If you are concerned that your system is nearing capacity and require a generator to assist in the pump-out, please contact Shoalhaven Water on 4429 3214 (business hours) or 4421 3100 (after hours) and we will send staff to attend.


    What do I do if my water meter has been lost or damaged in the fire?

    Our crews are making their way to affected properties in each area. If the property has been destroyed, meters are being removed, internal lines disconnected, and a tap connection provided. This unmetered service will ensure property owners can access water during the recovery and rebuild process.

    If your meter is damaged and you are still occupying the property, please contact Shoalhaven Water on 4429 3214 (business hours) or 4421 3100 (after hours) and we will send staff to repair or replace.

ANIMAL WELFARE

    Who do I contact for advice and assistance with animal welfare?

    For emergency fodder, stock water and stock assessment, contact Local Land Services on 1800 814 647.

    For advice and assistance regarding injured wildlife, visit WIRES Emergency Advice, or call 1300 094 737.

    For assistance with pets, livestock (including horses), and wildlife, complete the RSPCA's Bushfire Assistance Form or get in touch with them:


    How can I help wildlife in distress?

    Drought conditions across NSW and the burning of huge tracts of land in recent fires have left many of our native animals in distress.

    Many animals can survive for extended periods with little or no food but can only survive a matter of days without life-saving water. You can help our native wildlife by giving them a safe supply of water. 

    To make a safe wildlife-friendly watering area, use:

    • Shallow containers with a stable rock or stick in them to give safe access out of the water.
    • Strong, stable containers to avoid them tipping over or collapsing.
    • Firm surfaces to put the containers on, so they don’t tip if a heavy animal tries to use it.
    • Containers at a range of heights from the ground so a range of animals can reach them.
    • A cleared area with shade to allow nervous wildlife to watch out for predators and keep cool.
    • Clean, fresh water. Change it daily to prevent the spread of disease.

    Remember to keep:

    • Children, cats and dogs away from your wildlife-friendly watering area.
    • Your pool covered or put in a ramp or floatation device to allow wildlife to escape if they fall in while drinking. Check your pool daily.
    • A photo diary of the visitors to your wildlife-friendly watering area to share on the National Parks and Wildlife Facebook page.
    For more information visit NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services Help Injured Wildlife.

    What do I do if I find injured wildlife?

    Contact your local wildlife rescue group or vet. Use the IFAW Wildlife Rescue App to find one near you.

    Most wildlife is not used to being handled and can become very stressed. If a trained wildlife rescue volunteer or vet is not immediately available:

    - Remove threats from the animal including small children, cats and dogs.

    - Cover and contain the animal in a box lined with a towel.

    - Don't give food or water unless instructed by a trained wildlife rescue volunteer or a vet.

    - Keep the animal inside in a quiet place, allowing it to rest with no disturbance.

    For more information visit NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services Help Injured Wildlife.


    Where can I find information about wildlife water stations?

    It is incredible to see the huge community lead movement which is providing food and water stations for our local wildlife through groups like the Wildlife Stations Shoalhaven.

    Council is assisting by installing some stations and monitoring these sites with remote sensor cameras. A variety of wildlife have been recorded using the stations including Red-necked Wallabies, Wonga Pigeons, small birds like the Lewin's Honeyeater and Bower Birds. 

    You can help by setting up your own water stations. For instructions visit Wildlife Drinking Stations.

REPORTING SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITIES

    How do I report a bushfire hazard?

    It is a legal requirement that all bushfire hazard complaints are referred to the Rural Fire Service (RFS) investigation. 

    Bushfire Hazard Complaints can be lodged on the NSW RFS website.

    You can also write to NSW RFS at PO Box 372 Nowra 2541.

    For more information visit NSW RFS website.

    How can I help to prevent bushfire arson?

    The NSW Rural Fire Service and NSW Police Force are committed to fighting bush fire arson. Bush fire arson is dangerous. It can destroy lives, properties and have long term effects on the environment.

    If you see something that looks out of place record the details of vehicles such as the make, model and registration of suspicious vehicles. Also take note of the appearance of anyone acting suspiciously.

    Report suspicious behaviour to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

    To report a fire emergency call Triple Zero (000).

    For more information visit NSW RFS Bushfire Arson.

RETURNING HOME SAFELY AFTER A BUSHFIRE

    What should I consider before I return home?

    Houses, sheds and other buildings or structures burnt in a bushfire can leave potential health and safety hazards. This includes fallen objects, sharp objects, smouldering coals, damaged electrical wires, leaking gas and weakened walls. 

    Hazardous materials to be aware of after a fire include:
    • asbestos
    • ashes, especially from burnt treated timbers such as copper chrome arsenate (CCA)
    • dust
    • garden or farm chemicals
    • LP gas cylinders
    • medicines
    • metal and other residues from burnt household appliances
    • other general chemicals such as cleaning products.

    Check with your local emergency services that it is safe to return to your property. Where possible, try to avoid taking children onto fire-damaged properties. If you do, ensure they remain protected at all times.

    How can I protect myself?

    Residents need to read the Public Health Advice for Bushfire-Affected Areas before returning to homes and properties affected by bushfires.

    Community members should not sift through fire-damaged material until it has been inspected and verified to be free of asbestos and other hazardous material.

    Health risks include exposure to asbestos, ash from burnt-treated timbers, medicines, garden or farm chemicals, household chemicals and cleaning products, damaged gas bottles, metal and other residues from burnt household appliances as well as ash and dust.

    For safety reasons also try to limit the time spent at your property if it's damaged or lost.

    If you need to be there for an extended period, you need to take:
    • bottled drinking water
    • food (perishable food should be kept cool in an esky or cooler bag)
    • sunscreen
    • a hat.
     
    Wear protective clothing including:
    • sturdy footwear and heavy-duty work gloves
    • disposable coveralls (with long sleeves and trousers)
    • P2/N95 face masks.

    You can purchase protective coveralls, gloves and face masks from your local hardware and work place supply stores. When leaving the property, pack your gloves, coveralls and face mask into a garbage bag.

    Make sure you wash your hands after removing contaminated clothing and articles and clean your shoes before wearing them again.

    What is the best way to handle waste?

    It is unsafe to spread or disturb ash around your property, particularly if copper chrome arsenate (CCA) treated timber was burnt. CCA is a preservative used to prevent insects, wood rot and wood fungus from damaged timber and timber structures. 

    CCA is used to treat wood intended for outdoor use, such as telegraph poles and fence palings, in landscaping and in building structures. By default all wood outdoor wooden structures should be CCA treated. If you are unsure, assume it is treated. If materials containing asbestos in your home or other structures are damaged, they can also be harmful.

    What do I do with fire damaged food?

    All food that has been fire-damaged or affected by heat should be thrown out. This includes all perishable and non-perishable foods including cans or packaged foods. 

    Power outages can also leave perishable foods, that have been refrigerated, unsafe to eat.

    Refer to the NSW Food Authority for more information.

    What kind of support is available?

    Returning to your property may be stressful and exhausting. It is important that you look after yourself and access mental health and counselling services if required.

    The following free services are available 24 hours, seven days a week:
    • Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636
    • Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511
    • Lifeline: 13 11 14
    • Mensline: 1300 789 978
    • Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
    If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 000.

    Anyone experiencing persistent issues impacting their day-to-day lives should talk to their General Practitioner or regular health care provider.

    The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP), operates across rural and remote NSW. RAMHP has coordinators in the fire affected areas working directly with communities to provide on the ground support, connecting people with support and assistance and visiting evacuation centres daily.

    To contact your local Coordinator visit RAMHP's Mental Health Program website and type in your 
    postcode.

    For practical assistance call the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444

FALLEN TREES / VEGETATION

    What do I do if I'm worried about a bushfire damaged tree falling?

    After fires have impacted a property, trees can be susceptible to falling due to damage to their trunk or root ball.

    The State Emergency Service should be contacted on 132 500 or a tree surgeon in the first instance if trees are at imminent danger of falling and causing damage to life or property.

    Any other tree removal will be dealt with in the normal manner in line with Council's Tree and Vegitation Management DCP.

    What about the bushfire damaged vegetation?

    Vegetation that has been burnt by bushfire will regenerate over time. Being impacted by bushfire is not a reason to conduct clearing of the vegetation and requires the same approval process in-place prior to the bushfires.

    Illegal clearing of vegetation is still an offence and allegations of clearing will be investigated by Council or Department Planning Industry & Environment.

FIRE RETARDANTS AND PRIVATE WATER SOURCES

    What are fire retardants?

    Fire retardants are used to slow the spread or intensity of a fire. They help fire fighters on the ground to control and contain a fire and help protect properties. Fire retardants may also be dropped from aircraft during firefighting operations. 

    Sometimes a red coloured pigment, made from iron oxide, is added so that those spraying can see where they have released the fire retardant. Fire retardants consist of detergent chemicals made from a combination of wetting agents and foaming chemicals, fertilisers (ammonium and diammonium sulfate and ammonium phosphate) mixed with thickeners (guar gum) and corrosion inhibitors (for aircraft safety). They are mixed with water to form a foam or slurry. Examples include, Angus Forexpan S and Phos-Chek WD-881, Phos- Chek D75-F and Phos-Chek D75-R. 

    How do fire retardants work?

    Fire retardants are mixed with water before they are used in the environment. After the water has completely evaporated, the remaining chemical residue retards vegetation or other materials from igniting, until it is removed by rain or erosion. Fire retardants also work by binding to plant material (cellulose) and preventing combustion.

    What are the health effects if I'm exposed to fire retardant?

    The fire retardants currently used in Australia are of low toxicity. Testing shows these chemicals can produce minor irritant effects, such as minor respiratory irritation, before they are mixed with water. Gels can irritate eyes, airways and the skin. 

    Risk assessments carried out in the United States and in Victoria demonstrate that the risk of health effects is very low, even to people who are accidentally exposed to the fire retardants during their application. The health risk from drinking rain water contaminated with fire retardants is also low, but the water may taste and smell unpleasant and consumption should be avoided. 

    Anyone working with fire retardants are required to wear gloves, goggles and dust masks when handling the powder.

    What first aid should be administered if I come in contact with fire retardant?

    If eye contact occurs, rinse eyes with fresh water continuously for several minutes until all contaminant is washed out.  If symptoms develop or persist, seek medical attention.

    If swallowed, rinse your mouth out with fresh water; then consult a doctor.

    If skin contact occurs, wash the affected area with soap and water. 

    For further information call the NSW Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.

    What precautions should I take if I have a water tank?

    The most effective way to prevent contamination of your water tank is to ensure that your tank is properly sealed. 

    In addition:

    • Disconnect your water tank as soon as there is a bush fire risk to prevent contaminated water from entering it.
    • Install a first flush diverter or make sure the first part of runoff after rain cannot go into your tank to prevent any water runoff from your roof containing fire retardant from entering your tank. It will also prevent embers, ash and other contaminants from entering your drinking water. 
    • Make sure you clean your roof after a bushfire.
    • If fire retardant does enter your water tank do not drink or use the water for food preparation. The high levels of ammonia and sulfate may make it smell unpleasant and taste salty.
    • Contaminated water is not suitable for drinking for humans as well as animals; including pets and livestock. 
    • The water can still be used for irrigation and fire-fighting purposes.
    • Boiling the water will not remove contamination.

    What is the best way to clean up fire retardant residue?

    When cleaning surfaces wear protective equipment such as safety glasses, disposable gloves and a disposable face mask.

    If aerial fire retardant or fire-fighting foam residue is present on your house or cars, use a mild detergent with water and brushes to scrub and dilute the dried residue then rinse with clean water.

    Further information on the maintenance of rainwater tanks can be found on the NSW Health website