As you are aware both the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island have been hit hard by the recent bushfires. In addition, we are also all witnessing via the media the continuing horrific scenes interstate with bushfires.
Some of us have been impacted by these events, others not but feel that they need to do something. Currently there is a lot of information available as to ways that people can be assisted and we could be forgiven for being overwhelmed by it all.
For those of our clients impacted we are working our way through our lists to make contact with you. Please remember that you are not alone and that there are many people on the ground waiting to assist you in any way that they can.
Our first piece of advice is to register at the Bushfire Recovery Centre at Lobethal in person or ring the Recovery Hotline on 1800 302 787 if you have not already done this. The recovery centre has been set up at the Old Woollen Mill in Lobethal and is open from 7.00am – 7.00pm during the week.
Even if you don’t think you need anything at the moment still register as you may change your mind in future weeks. They also are a conduit for all the assistance available so can make you aware of what assistance is there. For example, people who lost their homes in a bushfire may be eligible for an emergency grant of $2,000 via the Red Cross. Visit redcross.org.au/grants and register your contact details. They will then contact you to verify a few pieces of information, including proof of residence. Once the checks are done, you will then get a payment by EFT.
Your next step will be insurance. The Insurance Council of Australia has set up a national hotline for anyone with questions about their bushfire insurance, including helping to link them with their insurer, this is 1800 734 621. For loss of income/profits/stock if a business is involved, they will potentially need to liaise with us. If you have a claim for this let us know and we will assist where required.
Banking – The Australian Banking Association has announced an assistance package for those affected by these natural disasters. This can be deferment of loan repayments, waiving of fees and charges or restructuring of loans. Each bank will be different but all appear to be on board so contact with your banker to update them on your circumstances would be prudent. We also have an extensive list of phone numbers to hotlines for the major banks for this purpose if you are not sure who to talk to. Let us know if you require assistance and we will be happy to help.
Taxation – naturally if you are concerned about anything in this area please contact us. The ATO are happy to grant extensions to individuals and businesses experiencing natural disasters and will often grant extensions automatically based on postcodes. If anything is required or you are concerned about meeting deadlines or payment plans let us know and we will sort. As we catch up with each of you, we will also work through these issues.
If any of our clients that have not been impacted are wondering how you can help.…please keep reading.
At the moment most centres have been inundated with donations of physical goods and whilst appreciating this they are now asking for these to cease as they are overwhelmed. It is now the time to be more targeted in what relief is required and on that basis donations to the major charities are of more use as they can then direct the funds where required. In addition, donations to the CFS Foundation are recommended as without these amazing individuals many of these areas would still be burning and buildings no longer standing. https://cfsfoundation.org.au/donate
The recovery is now underway in the Hills. As outlined at a meeting last night for the community there are 4 aspects to this recovery:
Economic – all the businesses need support to survive, we need people to visit the Hills and use the services or buy the produce and this needs to be ongoing. Many of these businesses have missed their busiest and most profitable time of the year over the Christmas break so will be struggling. Even if you can’t visit the Hills drink their wine or buy their goods online where possible.
Environment – buildings and infrastructure will need to be replaced; councils are streamlining approval processes to assist this as we need to rebuild as fast as possible.
Livestock/Wildlife – many have been lost so there needs to be care dealing with this, restocking and ensuring that native animals also have places to eat and live.
People – last but not least everyone needs to look after each other. Don’t think you will be brave and don’t need help, take all that you can in terms of help and reach out if you need anything.
Of these the one that you can all assist with is the first i.e.: to support the Adelaide Hills and the many businesses that exist there. We will leave you with a recent post to Instagram which demonstrates the courage of the firefighters and guides us as to how to do this.
I want you to do one simple thing. When these fires have stopped and the towns impacted are safe and trying to regain some sense of “normal”, I want you to plan a road trip. Go with empty eskies, empty cars and low fuel. Go and spend your money, stay in their hotels, buy from their shops, camp at their camp grounds, buy their gifts, buy their fuel, buy bread and milk. Beyond rebuilding, they need continued and long-term support to get back on their feet and your empty eskies make more of a difference than you could ever imagine.