Eastern Queensland Bushfires - November 2019 - Ex-gratia Disaster Recovery Allowance

Help for New Zealanders who can show they have a loss of income as a direct result of the bushfires in Eastern Queensland in November 2019 through to February 2020.

You have until 4 August 2020 to make a claim for the following Local Government Areas:

  • Bundaberg
  • Gladstone
  • Gold Coast
  • Gympie
  • Ipswich
  • Livingstone
  • Lockyer Valley
  • Noosa
  • Scenic Rim
  • Somerset
  • Southern Downs
  • Toowoomba.

What is it

Ex-gratia Disaster Recovery Allowance is a short term payment to help you if a declared disaster directly affects your income.

For this event, Ex-gratia Disaster Recovery Allowance isn't taxable.

You can get it for a maximum of 13 weeks. It’s paid from the date you lose income as a direct result of the Eastern Queensland Bushfires, November 2019.

Who can get it

To get ex-gratia Disaster Recovery Allowance both the following must apply:

  • You are a non-protected SCV (subclass 444) holder and a ‘non-resident’ under the Social Security Act 1991.
  • You have paid tax in Australia for at least one year in the past three financial years or will do so before 5 February 2021.

You must also meet all of the following. You:

  • are 16 years or older at the time of the fire
  • work or live in an affected Local Government Area
  • lose income as a direct result of the bushfires
  • earn less than the average weekly income in the weeks after you had this income loss.

You can’t get this payment if you’re a dependent child.

We use Australian Bureau of Statistics figures to work out average weekly income, as follows:

  • from 1 January 2019 – $1,586.20 per week
  • from 1 January 2020 - $1,633.80 per week.

You must not get the following payments for the same period you’re claiming this payment:

Independent child

If you’re between 16 and 21 years old, you may get ex-gratia Disaster Recovery Allowance if you’re considered independent.

We’ll look at all of the following:

  • your income
  • your personal circumstances
  • if you’re dependent on anyone, such as an adult who has legal responsibility for your care and provides financial assistance.

How much you can get

The maximum payment rate is the equivalent of JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance, based on your circumstances. Your income before and after the fires will affect how much you get.

If you’re independent, we’ll work out your maximum rate of payment based on both your:

  • accommodation
  • personal circumstances.

On 21 January 2020, the way we calculate Disaster Recovery Allowance changed.

If you got Disaster Recovery Allowance between 1 July 2019 and 20 January 2020, we’ll re-assess your claim under the new rules. If this means more money for you, we’ll pay you the difference in a lump sum. You don’t need to do anything. We’ll pay this into your bank account.

What evidence you need to provide

We’ll ask you to give us evidence of your loss of income.

If you earn a salary or wage we’ll ask you for documents that show your income for the 4 weeks before the bushfires.

If your income changes each week we will ask you to show your income for the 8 weeks before the bushfires.

Evidence can include any of the following:

  • pay slips from your employer
  • bank statements showing previous bank deposits from your employer
  • a letter from your employer.

If you’re a farmer or you have a small business we'll ask you to show us many of these documents as possible:

  • profit and loss statements
  • income tax returns
  • other documents that show cash flow such as a bank statement for your business
  • trust or partnership tax return.

If you don’t have evidence, call us on 180 22 66.

How to claim

Complete the following steps to claim the ex-gratia Disaster Recovery Allowance.

  1. Visiting a service centre

    1. Get ready to claim

    The fastest way to claim is over the phone.

    To claim, either:

    Read more about our phone line times.

    Call us on 131 202 to talk to us in languages other than English.

  2. Gather Documents

    2. Get your documents ready

    We’ll ask you to give us evidence to support the claimed loss of income.

    If you don’t have these documents, call us on 180 22 66. You may also need to confirm your identity. We’ll tell you how to do it during the claim process.

    You will need to provide one document showing Proof of Birth or Proof of Arrival in Australia. Alternatively, you can provide any other approved documents that add up to the value of 50 points. For example a:

    • driver’s licence is 40 points
    • bank card/statement is 40 points
    • Medicare card is 20 points.

    3. Submit your claim

    Remember, the fastest way to claim is over the phone.

    If you print and complete a claim form, you can submit it and any supporting documents either:

    • in person at a service centre
    • by faxing them to 1300 727 760
    • by posting them to:
      Emergency Processing Centre
      Reply Paid 7815
      Canberra BC ACT 2610

    Please make sure your name is on your supporting documents so we can identify them.

How to manage your payment

Reporting requirements

If you get ex-gratia Disaster Recovery Allowance you’ll need to report any changes in your circumstances. This includes letting us know if you earn more than or the same as the average weekly income while you get the Disaster Recovery Allowance.

The quickest way to report your income is by calling 180 22 66.

Your responsibilities

It’s your responsibility to decide to claim this payment based on your personal circumstances. It’s also your responsibility to make sure the information you provide in your claim is true and correct.

You’ll need to update your income estimate if any of the following applies to you:

  • You get Family Tax Benefit.
  • You get Child Care Subsidy.
  • You have a current Child Support assessment in place.

What other services are available

For further assistance search Payment and Service Finder. If you’re affected by family and domestic violence:

  • call us on 132 850 and ask to speak with one of our social workers - 8 am and 5 pm Monday to Friday, local time
  • go to our family and domestic violence webpage for more information.

Page last updated: 20 March 2020