Bushfire Recovery Clean-Up

    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

    When Will Clean-Up Work Start?

    Laing O’Rourke will start contacting registered property owners from early February 2020 to begin planning.

    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 will begin after properties have been made safe, and in certain situations this could mean ensuring all impacted properties in close proximity are made safe, to minimise the risk of clearing work accidentally spreading contamination from nearby locations.

    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 located within the vicinity of primary residences or business operations.

    Individual site assessments will be required to 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.

    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 Clean-Up?

    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. We will maximise the amount of materials being recycled.

    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.

    Unlicensed Tradespeople

    Beware of unlicensed tradespeople offering cheap, quick, cash-only repairs. Only licensed tradespeople can carry out any residential building work valued at more than $5000 and all specialist work, including asbestos removal, regardless of value.

    Also be aware Public Works Advisory and Laing O’Rourke staff will pre-arrange any household visits and will not turn up unannounced or demand payment.

    To check the licence of a NSW tradesperson, please visit http://bit.ly/NSWLicenceCheck.

Returning Home 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 To 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

Financial Support

    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 (External link)(External link)Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (External link)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(External link) or call Human Services on 180 22 66.


    Is There Any Assistance With Stamp Duty?

    The NSW Government will provide stamp duty relief for people who lost their homes during the bushfires and who choose to purchase a replacement home elsewhere rather than rebuild.

    Information on how to apply for a refund and eligibility requirements will be available from Service NSW and Revenue NSW websites from March 10. Eligible people who have already paid duty will be able to apply for a refund. 

    Learn more at www.nsw.gov.au/your-government/ministers/deputy-premier-minister-for-regional-new-south-wales-industry-and-trade/media-releases-from-the-premier/nsw-government-to-provide-stamp-duty-relief-for-people-who-lost-homes-during-bushfires/


    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.


    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.

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.

Housing Assistance

    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.


Applying For Grants & 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 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 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.


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.


Businesses

    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.

    Visit Register for a small business bushfire recovery grant to find out if you're eligible.


    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.


    Is There Any Financial Assistance For Small Businesses?

    Yes. The 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.


    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.


    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.


    Will Licences, Permits And Certificates Be Replaced Free Of Charge?

    Yes, The replacement of the following licenses, 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
    • tatto parlour or tattooist
    • Owner-Builder
    • Tow truck

    To apply for a replacement card complete the Application for a Duplicate License, 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). 




BUILD BACK BETTER

    Is there any support for the rebuild phase?

    A number of groups are rallying to support the rebuild phase including:

    Building Angels are offering support to rebuild homes for those experiencing financial hardship. If you would like to lend a hand and offer your architect, consultant and tradeservices visit www.buildingangels.com.au/bushfire-relief. To enquire about eligibility of individuals visit www.buildingangels.com.au/eligibility
    GIVIT Listed Ltd identifies the immediate and long-term needs of affected communities and then match offers from individuals and businesses to ensure those who need assistance get exactly what they need, where and when they need it most.
    Donations are pledged online, eliminating the need for storing, sorting and disposing of inappropriate, unwanted donations. The GIVIT platform maintains the privacy and dignity of all recipients, ensuring they receive only quality items and only those that they require.Learn more at http://givit.org.au/disasters

Health and Wellbeing

    Where Can I access Mental Health & Counselling Services?

    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.

    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

    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.

    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.


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.

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


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?

    f 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..


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.


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 areas, 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.


Fencing

    What Fencing Assistance Is Available for Bushfire Affected Farms?


    National Parks & 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



    Public Land Boundary Fencing Program

    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.

    Note that for the purposes of this grant, 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.

    How can you apply?

    Please visit Local Land Services(External link) or call 1300 778 080 .

Trade Supplies

    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.


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 (External link)NSW RFS Bushfire Arson(External link)(External link).


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