Australia

NSW floods: How those affected can access support and what everyone else can do to help

Emergency services, charities and governments have been scrambling to help the some 18,000 people across NSW evacuated from their homes since the flood emergency began last week.

More than 10,000 requests for help have been made across the state since Thursday. About 900 flood rescues have been performed and thousands of insurance claims have already been lodged.

Here’s what support is available to those facing the floods, and how everyone else can lend a hand to those affected.  

If you’re affected

The federal government on Sunday announced the activation of the Disaster Recovery Payment for affected local government areas.

The payment of $1,000 per eligible adult and $400 per eligible child is available for people who have been seriously injured, have lost their homes or whose homes have been damaged, or whose major assets have been impacted. It is also available for New Zealand ‘non-protected’ visa holders.

Employees, primary producers or business owners who can demonstrate they have experienced loss of income can also apply for the Disaster Recovery Allowance

More information can be found on the Services Australia website.

The Insurance Council of Australia’s disaster hotline – which can be reached on 1800 734 621 – has also been activated. It is not a claims lodgement service, but policy holders uncertain of their insurance details or have general inquiries can call for more information.

Local Land Services and the NSW Department of Primary Industries are also assisting landholders with emergency fodder, veterinary assistance and care of animals in evacuation centres. Those affected are being urged to contact the Agriculture and Animal Services Hotline on 1800 814 647.

Authorities have also issued health warnings, due to the ongoing risk of floodwater mixing with untreated sewerage, carrying viruses, bacteria and parasites.

NSW Health recommends all floodwater should be treated as potentially contaminated. It has urged people to wash hands thoroughly, wear protective clothing and cover cuts and abrasions.

Drought, bushfires, the COVID-19 pandemic and now the floods have caused a toll on some people’s mental health. Various support services are available, such as Beyond BlueEmbrace Multicultural Mental HealthLifeline, Mensline and the Kids Helpline.

The Disaster Response Legal Service can also be reached on 1800 801 529.

If you want to help

People wishing to help are being urged not to donate unwanted goods.

The NSW government has partnered with not-for-profit GIVIT to advise what immediate material support is needed.

NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said it was essential that people didn’t take unrequested items into flood-affected areas.

“We need to ensure local charities and recovery organisations aren’t inundated with donations they don’t need,” Mr Elliott said.

An SES flood rescue team member inspects floodwaters flowing over the New Windsor Bridge.

AAP

The Salvation Army has been catering to evacuees and volunteers in evacuation centres and the Red Cross is providing comfort and psychological aid to those affected across the state.

The St Vincent de Paul Society has launched a flood appeal to provide food and financial support to victims, while Foodbank is providing emergency hampers to families evacuated from their homes, which you can donate to here.

Beware of ‘fake charities’

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has warned fake charities often use natural disasters, like the NSW floods, to take advantage of people’s generosity and compassion.

“Never send money or give personal information, credit card details or online account details to anyone you don’t know or trust,” an ACCC spokesperson said.

If you’re considering making a donation, you can check you’re giving to a legitimate charity by visiting the Australian charities and not-for-profits commission register here.

“There are many legitimate organisations that provide much-needed assistance to those affected by natural disasters, and if you are considering donating to appeals, please make sure you double-check whether the appeal or its organisers are legitimate,” a NSW Police Force spokesperson said.

Residents of NSW can stay across the latest weather updates and warnings via the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and through the NSW SES.

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