Bushfire response, relief and recovery FAQs
How do I access support?
We are deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable people in our community and are working hard to do what we can with other available resources.
In Australia, there are strong laws that govern how donated funds can be used. These rules ensure that all charities are transparent and accountable to the Australian public. Because of these laws, donations given to The Salvation Army's recent Disaster Appeal can only be used to help people impacted by the relevant disasters. We are accountable for ensuring that the money donated to the Disaster Appeal gets to those people who lost their homes and livelihoods during the bushfires.
Salvation Army disaster assistance provides support in three stages:
The first stage is emergency response during the crisis and in the immediate aftermath. Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES) teams activate at evacuation centres to respond to needs on the ground. Meals and refreshments, care packs, bedding, referrals, counselling and financial assistance are just some of the ways we help.
The second stage is an initial assessment and provision of emergency funds.
The third stage is recovery. This is the longest stage where more financial support is provided for those who have been severely impacted by the disaster.
We stand by communities for the long haul.
Our experience in meeting personal hardship resulting from disaster tells us that up to 70 per cent of donated funds will need to be spent in the recovery stages – that is, anywhere from now up to two to three years from here.
Salvation Army disaster recovery volunteers are currently positioned at four bushfire recovery hubs in New South Wales and three in Victoria while providing an outreach service on Kangaroo Island, SA.
We have also established a dedicated Bushfire Recovery Team (BRT), which is nationally coordinated and locally embedded.
The BRT is leading the Salvos’ engagement with federal, state, regional and community groups.
The Bushfire Recovery Team’s services include financial assistance and counselling; a dedicated telephone line where workers can assess and deliver material aid; outreach workers embedded in local communities across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia and; caseworkers based in communities to deliver holistic assistance, including financial, emotional and psychological responses.
The Salvation Army has released the first phase of our recovery grants. This includes:
- A hardship recovery grant that provides assistance to individuals and families experiencing ongoing extreme hardship as a result of the bushfire disaster.
- A significant loss grant that provides assistance to individuals and families in bushfire impacted areas who have:
- had to spend extensive periods of time evacuated from their place of residence;
- suffered from extended loss of essential services, such as water and power;
- experienced other significant property damage or income loss due to their place of work being damaged or destroyed
- A total loss of residence grant that provides assistance to individuals and families in bushfire impacted areas whose primary place of residence (owned or leased) has been destroyed or left permanently unlivable
Further information about these recovery grants can be found here.
Yes, the focus of The Salvation Army’s work, now in the recovery stage, is to provide support to people who have lost everything, including their homes. A Total Loss of Residence Grant is now available as part of our phase one recovery grants. This grant provides assistance to individuals and families in bushfire impacted areas whose primary place of residence (owned or leased) was destroyed or rendered permanently uninhabitable.
Our SAES teams assist first responders and displaced people with food, refreshments, personal care packs and support.
The SAES is a national 24/7, state-of-readiness service. Through this bushfire season, the team has been supported by a network of 3000 personnel, including trained volunteers, working four to eight-hour shifts on a 24-hour rotation.
- Provided services and support at over 290 locations, including evacuation, relief and recovery centres.
- More than 250,000 meals prepared and served, and over 240,000 light refreshments provided to first responders and evacuees.
Over $43 million has been pledged or promised to The Salvation Army since launching our Disaster Appeal on 9 November 2019. However, only $33.9 million has been received and made available to us.
To date, we have distributed more than $21.2 million of this $33.9 million:
- More than $15.2 million distributed in immediate hardship payments
- More than $6 million spent towards emergency and relief efforts
As this emergency has been ongoing and widespread, it is important to ensure funds are available to support those impacted in the immediate aftermath as well as throughout recovery.
To date, over $21.2 million has been distributed directly to over 9,430 individuals and families in terms of hardship payments, for example to pay for petrol, or emergency accommodation.
Our Bushfire recovery team services will also include additional financial assistance and counselling.
The Australian community has been extremely generous during this unprecedented event. Several organisations as well as individuals have promised (pledged) funds to the Salvation Army to assist us with our bushfire relief and recovery efforts. However, it’s important to clarify the difference between pledges and donations.
Funds pledged: Promised support of funding to be paid and processed in the future.
Funds received: Donations received, processed and banked. The Salvation Army can only spend what we have received.
The Salvation Army has received both pledges and donations and has distributed a large majority of funds we have received towards relief and recovery efforts. We are confident funds that have been pledged or promised to The Salvation Army, will be honoured, as we have seen in the past.
As those impacted by the disaster take stock of their losses and look towards recovery, we are aware that they may discover many unforeseen costs that may not be evident in the immediate aftermath.
While we provide initial emergency funds, it is important to ensure that we have the capacity to provide the support needed in the long-term for individuals, families and communities to make a full recovery.
Our experience tells us that up to 70 per cent of donated funds will need to be spent in the recovery stages – that is, anywhere from now up to two to three years.
With your help, we have provided:
- Over $21.2 million in relief and support aid delivered to affected communities across Australia, which includes over $6 million towards immediate emergency and relief efforts and over $15.2 million distributed directly to people in terms of hardship payments, whether that’s money for petrol, emergency accommodation etc.
- The Salvation Army Emergency Services team provided services and support at over 290 locations, including evacuation, relief and recovery centres
- More than 250,000 meals prepared and served, and over 240,000 light refreshments provided to first responders and evacuees
- Financial assistance to over 9,430 Australians, through a dedicated phone line and face-to-face conversations on the ground
We understand the need for accountability and are committed to transparency and reporting.
The Salvation Army will keep good faith and we will be good stewards of all that has been entrusted to us. The money is not for us, it’s for the benefit of those Australians who have been impacted by this disaster.
While we acknowledge that donors are anxious to see all the money in action immediately, recovering from disaster is not a fast or straightforward process. We need to ensure we have the capacity to provide support for those affected in the short-term as well as for the coming months and years as they seek to rebuild their homes, lives and livelihoods.
To understand more about the responsibility of charities, how they are regulated and how accountability and integrity is maintained, read Bushfires generosity will not be betrayed by charities by Hon Dr Gary Johns.
The national Bushfire Disaster Appeal will not incur internal costs of fundraising or administration. The cost of governance, auditing and reporting will be no more than 2 per cent. At least 98 per cent of funds received will reach those who need it most.
Unfortunately, we are not able to help wildlife groups, due to our DGR status. This means we are only able to help people in need.
Under The Salvation Army’s DGR status, financial donations cannot be used for broader community projects, such as rebuilding or repairing sporting clubs, community neighbourhood centres, wildlife recovery or environmental rehabilitation.
The Salvation Army responds to natural and man-made disasters including bushfires, floods, storm damage, earthquakes, cyclones or prolonged drought.
Donations can be made online, by calling 13 SALVOS (13 72 58) or at Salvos Stores.
You can continue to support SAES teams with an ongoing regular donation. This will allow us to be ready to act immediately when disaster strikes, and to provide long-term support to those impacted. Visit salvationarmy.org.au/regulargiving