Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services

Media release: Update on Australian Government services support for bushfire affected regions

10 January 2020

The Hon Stuart Robert MP

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services
  • Services Australia staff have deployed with ADF to bushfire affected communities in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
  • Services available this weekend:
    • Disaster payments call centre between 8am to 5pm local time - 180 22 66
    • Some walk-in Centrelink Service Centres in affected bushfire regions when safe to do so
    • Mobile Service Centres and Mobile Service teams at recovery centres
  • Fastest way to claim disaster payments is to call 180 22 66.
  • NDIS participants in affected regions encouraged to call 1800 800 110 for priority support.
  • Over $34 million provided in Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments and Disaster Recovery Allowance to declared Local Government Areas with more than 28,000 claims processed since 16 September 2019.

Services Australia has mobilised and rapidly deployed Mobile Service Teams (MSTs) and Mobile Service Centres (MSCs) to get support to bushfire affected communities in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

The MST’s, equipped with technology to provide immediate on-the-ground assistance, have so far helped the communities of: Moruya, Batlow, Sussex Inlet and Lake Conjola in New South Wales; and Cann River, Buchan and Orbost in Victoria.

MSTs are deploying alongside the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Some teams have been joined by staff from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) to provide specialised support.

These smaller teams complement the deployment of the MSCs which are equipped with the same technology as any Centrelink or Medicare Service Centre. This week the MSCs deployed to bushfire affected communities including Bundanoon in New South Wales, and Bairnsdale in Victoria. MSC staff offer services involving Payments, Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support. Social workers are also on board and can support people with short term counselling and referrals to support services.

This weekend, further support will be provided in the form of extended operations of the Services Australia disaster hotline (180 22 66), some walk-in Service Centres (Centrelink) and Mobile Service Centres and Teams (where it is safe to do so). Locations will be updated each morning here: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/subjects/bushfires-access-and-update-us   

This on the ground support comes as the Disaster Payments hotline continues to deliver immediate disaster payments to impacted Australians with over $34 million provided in Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments (AGDRP) and Disaster Recovery Allowance (DRA) to declared Local Government Areas. Staff have answered over 57,000 calls and processed over 28,600 claims for disaster payments.

The easiest way for people to claim these payments is to call 180 22 66. The phone line will be open from 8am to 5pm local time again this weekend and 8am to 8pm local time Monday to Friday.

For National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants, the National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA) Contact Centre - 1800 800 110 - has been provided information and advice on how to escalate enquiries for those affected by the bushfires. The NDIS contact centre is open 8am to 8pm AEDT Monday to Friday.

Participants impacted by the bushfires are being prioritised to ensure they can continue to receive their disability related supports, including any additional supports that may be required such as replacing equipment, additional care or therapies.

Repairs and maintenance of Assistive Technology is included in a participant’s NDIS budget where they are funded for AT supports. If there is no funding available for an urgent repair, the Contact Centre can provide an authorisation number over the phone to ensure participants can access the support they need and providers are paid appropriately.

Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert said teams which have been deployed into communities in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia are working shoulder-to-shoulder with their ADF and state colleagues to help where it is needed most.

‘Services Australia is getting assistance to Australians in bushfire-affected communities, and we are working hard to get into more communities each and every day,’ Mr Robert said.

‘The changing bushfire conditions call for an adaptable approach, and the portable technology Mobile Service Teams bring with them mean they can provide services from wherever they are required at short notice.’

The Government is closely monitoring conditions over the next few days and there may be changes to operations should authorities deem it unsafe to operate. Operation of MSTs and MSCs remain subject to ongoing assessment of conditions–stay up to date with service changes at: humanservices.gov.au/disaster

All Centrelink service centres are open today (10 January 2020) however operations may be affected and all sites will be monitored–check for closures at findus.humanservices.gov.au

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

[ENDS]

Government Services Update

The Government is closely monitoring conditions over the next few days and there may be changes to operations should authorities deem it unsafe to operate. Operation of MSTs and MSCs remain subject to ongoing assessment of conditions–stay up to date with service changes at: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/subjects/bushfires-access-and-update-us  

Mobile Service Centres (indicative schedule)

Desert Rose (New South Wales)

Saturday – Robertson – 10am – 4pm

Sunday – Milton - 10am – 4pm

Monday – Ulladulla Relief Centre – 8:30am – 4:30pm

Golden Wattle (Victoria)

Saturday – Bairnsdale Council Chambers – 10am – 4pm

Sunday – Bairnsdale Council Chambers - 10am – 4pm

Monday – Bairnsdale Council Chambers – 8:30am – 4:30pm

Mobile Service Teams

New South Wales

Friday

Sussex Inlet, RSL Club, 200 Jacobs Dr, Sussex Inlet

Lake Conjola, Community Centre, Entrance Road, Lake Conjola

Malua Bay, Location - TBC

Saturday and Sunday

Balmoral, Balmoral Hall, Wilson Drive, Balmoral

Batemans Bay, 13 Flora Cresent, Batemans Bay

  • Saturday 11 January - 10am - 3pm
  • Sunday 12 January - 10am - 3pm

Bega, 49-61 Church St, Bega

  • Saturday 11 January - 10am - 3pm
  • Sunday 12 January - 10am - 3pm

Narooma, 185 Princes Highway, Narooma

  • Saturday 11 January - 10am - 3pm
  • Sunday 12 January - 10am - 3pm

Burrill Lake, Near IGA, Balmoral Road, Burrill Lake

  • Sunday 12 January - 10:30am - 3:00pm

South Australia

Friday

Kangaroo Island, 22 Telegraph Rd, Kingscote

Lobethal, Recovery Centre, 1 Lobethal Rd, Lobethal

Victoria

Saturday and Sunday

Lakes Entrance, Gippsland Lakes Community Health
18-26 Jemmeson Street, Lakes Entrance

Service Centres (indicative schedule)

Batemans Bay Service Centre
13 Flora Cresent
Batemans Bay NSW 2536
Bega Service Centre
49-61 Church St
Bega NSW 2550
Narooma Service Centre
185 Princes Highway
Narooma NSW 2546

Page last updated: 15 January 2020