Victorian Bushfires - December 2019 - Disaster Recovery Allowance

Support for people who can show they have lost income as a direct result of the bushfires in Victoria in December 2019 and January 2020.

You have until 20 July 2020 to make a claim for the following Local Government Areas:

  • Alpine
  • Ararat
  • Ballarat
  • East Gippsland
  • Glenelg
  • Golden Plains
  • Indigo
  • Mansfield
  • Northern Grampians
  • Pyrenees
  • Southern Grampians
  • Towong
  • Wangaratta
  • Wellington
  • Wodonga.

What is it

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

You can get it for a maximum of 13 weeks. It’s payable from the date you lose income as a direct result of the Victorian Bushfires, December 2019.

Disaster Recovery Allowance is a taxable payment. You can ask us to withhold voluntary tax deductions from your payments.

If you get Disaster Recovery Allowance you might be able to access Beneficiary Tax Offset. This reduces the amount of tax you may have to pay. You’ll need to contact the Australian Taxation Office to find out more about this.

Who can get it

To get Disaster Recovery Allowance you must:

  • be 16 years or older at the time of the fire and not a dependent child
  • be an Australian resident or hold an eligible visa
  • get an income by working in an affected Local Government Area or live in an affected Local Government Area
  • lose income as a direct result of the Victorian Bushfires, December 2019
  • show you will earn less than the relevant income threshold amount in the fortnight following the loss of income.

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

If you’re a member of a couple, you can both receive this payment. You and your partner will need to complete separate claim forms.

Independent child

If you’re between 16 and 21 years of age, you may be able to get Disaster Recovery Allowance if you’re considered independent.

We’ll look at:

  • your income
  • personal circumstances, and
  • whether 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 Newstart or Youth Allowance, based on your circumstances. Your rate of payment will be affected by your income prior to and following the disaster.

If you’re independent, we’ll determine your maximum rate of payment by your:

  • accommodation, and
  • personal circumstances.

Income threshold amounts

The income threshold is the most you can earn in the fortnight after your loss of income. You need to show you’ll earn less than the relevant threshold amount in that period.

As at 20 September 2019: Aged 22 years and over Income threshold amount
Single, no children $1,060.67
Single, principal carer with dependent child/children $1,615.75
Single, with dependent child (but not the principal carer) $1,136.83
Member of a couple (each) $970.17
As at 1 January 2020: Aged 16 - 21 years Income threshold amount
Single, under 18 years, no children, at home $582.83
Single, over 18 years and under 22 years, no children, at home $668.50
Single, under 22 years, no children, required to live away from home $931.67
Single, with children $1,170.83
Member of a couple, no children (away from home) $931.67
Member of a couple, with children $1,007.33

How to claim

Complete the following steps to claim the 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:

    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
    • 8 am to 5 pm (local time) on the Australia Day Public Holiday.

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

  2. Gather Documents

    2. Get your documents ready

    You’ll need to provide evidence supporting the claimed loss of income. For example:

    • pay slips from an employer
    • bank statements showing previous bank deposits from an employer
    • a letter from your employer
    • profit and loss statements
    • income tax returns, or
    • other account documents identifying cash flow.

    If you’re having trouble getting these documents you should still lodge a claim without delay. You can provide your supporting documents to us within 28 days.

    You may also need to confirm your identity. You can’t do this online. We’ll advise 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:

    • driver’s licence (40 points)
    • bank card/statement (40 points)
    • Medicare card (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:

    • in person at a service centre
    • by faxing them to 1300 727 760, or
    • 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 Disaster Recovery Allowance you will need to:

  • report your income fortnightly, and
  • report any changes to your circumstances.

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 you’re:

  • getting Family Tax Benefit, or
  • 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 departmental social workers - 8 am and 5 pm (local time) Monday to Friday, and
  • go to our family and domestic violence webpage for more information.

Page last updated: 23 January 2020