Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services

Media release: On the ground government services and emergency financial assistance for bushfires

6 January 2020

The Hon Stuart Robert MP

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services
  • Services Australia staff will join Australian Defence Force personnel heading into bushfire-affected areas as part of an all of Federal Government effort.
  • At least 20 Mobile Service Teams will deploy into affected regions in New South Wales’ South Coast and Victoria’s East Gippsland to offer on the ground assistance.
  • Two Mobile Service Centres will also deploy to these regions.
  • The fastest way to claim disaster payments is to call 180 22 66.
  • Over $26 million has already been provided in Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments (AGDRP) and Disaster Recovery Allowance (DRA) in declared Local Government Areas.
  • Nearly 22,000 claims have been processed since 16 September 2019.

The Australian Government is deploying resources to establish 20 mobile service teams to offer immediate on-the-ground support to isolated bushfire affected communities.

Services Australia staff will work shoulder-to-shoulder with Australian Defence Force personnel in the fire affected communities across New South Wales and Victoria.

The Mobile Service Centres and Mobile Service Teams have the necessary technology and reliable internet connectivity that enables them to provide immediate on‑the‑spot assistance to affected Australians.

Minister for Government Services, Stuart Robert, said the technology is ready to go where it’s needed most.

‘In response to the scale of the bushfire emergency, the Australian Government has doubled Services Australia’s Mobile Service Team capability. This means additional Services Australia staff will be out on the road helping even more Australians living in isolated bushfire-affected communities,’ Minister Robert said.

‘The fastest way to claim is still through calling 180 22 66. However, the Mobile Service Centres and Mobile Service Teams mean we can be responsive and flexible, and allow people affected to access critical services with skilled staff in their region.

‘We know in crisis events a key aspect is enabling people to access government services to ensure they get the support they need.

‘This is why we’re using a cohesive, wrap-around approach with our specialist staff coordinating access to disaster assistance as well as appropriate Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support services.

‘This extends to working with our existing customers to advise them of the contingency arrangements in place for their usual payments and any reporting obligations they may have had.’

All Service Centres and Smart Centres are open today (6 January 2020) with the exception of Bega and Batemans Bay Service Centres, which are closed. 

The Australian Government has provided $26,354,692 in Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments (AGDRP) and Disaster Recovery Allowance (DRA) to people in bushfire-affected regions across Australia since September 2019.

Services Australia staff have answered over 40,000 calls and processed nearly 22,000 claims for disaster payments.

Services Australia emergency assistance telephone lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm AEDT, and 8am to 5pm AEDT next weekend.

Services Australia (Centrelink) operations may continue to be affected and all sites are being monitored regularly. You can check service changes at humanservices.gov.au/servicechanges.

For more information on support available, go to humanservices.gov.au/disaster.

Background

Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment is available to eligible people whose homes have been severely damaged or destroyed, who have been seriously injured or who have lost an immediate family member in the fires.

Disaster Recovery Allowance is available for those eligible who have lost income as a direct result of the disaster event.

Page last updated: 15 January 2020