Bushfire Assistance Update – 12 February 2020

Cobargo bushfire - Photo by Jeffrey Lee

The bushfire crisis has been affecting communities for a number of months now. While the recent rain has brought some relief, many areas of New South Wales will now have floods to contend with.

RSL NSW is providing financial assistance to impacted veterans through RSL DefenceCare’s Disaster Assistance Fund. Local RSL sub-Branches are coordinating support and distributing financial assistance to those who need it. As with the bushfires, veterans impacted by flooding can receive assistance through RSL NSW and the services provided by RSL DefenceCare.

As of 12 February, the financial assistance we have provided to bushfire affected areas includes:

  • $30,600 to five RSL sub-Branches to distribute locally, and
  • $81,038 directly to 23 individual veterans in affected areas.

A total of $111,638 has been provided to veterans and their families for bushfire assistance so far. This figure is on top of financial assistance provided in 2019 for other disasters such as drought.

Click here to see more detail on the assistance provided so far. This document will be updated frequently.


Where the Assistance is Going

Veterans in the following areas have received bushfire assistance.

  • Lower North Coast District
  • New England District
  • Western District
  • Monaro Far South Coast
  • North Coast District
  • Central Southern District

Jeffrey Lee, President of Cobargo RSL sub-Branch, told us how the support provided by RSL NSW and RSL DefenceCare has helped.

“Our farm was devastated by the bushfire at Cobargo early on New Years Day 2020. We lost: a cottage; our hay shed containing a large hay delivery that we had not even paid for yet; our work shed with most of our machinery and all of our tools; two other sheds; stockyards; most of our fences; and all of our pasture. All of our livestock survived, but that left us with the problem of keeping them fed and watered.

“I telephoned RSL NSW after an ex-serviceman at the evacuation centre told me that I could obtain a $300 supermarket voucher. This was hand delivered by another ex-serviceman who had lost his house, but was returning from Sydney after visiting a mate who had sustained serious burns. I was then passed on to RSL DefenceCare, and was surprised at how immediately helpful they were, because no assistance was being delivered by insurers, government or large charities.

“RSL DefenceCare immediately deposited $3,000 into my bank account. They also asked me to send unpaid accounts/receipts for uninsured items lost in the fire or essential purchases since the fire. This not only paid for our burnt hay, but allowed us to purchase: replacement hay to keep our livestock fed; parts for essential short-term repairs to our stock water/fencing; office equipment to apply for assistance; and solar panels to recharge our phones and torches while we were without power for over three weeks. Government/large charity grants and insurance payments are still months away.

“RSL DefenceCare and RSL NSW have allowed us to return to some semblance of normal life much more quickly than otherwise, and keep our livestock alive. Other fire-affected ex-service families in the local area have received similar help.

“I am extremely grateful for the assistance I have received, and strongly encourage any other veterans who have been affected by the bushfires to immediately contact RSL DefenceCare/RSL NSW for support.”


Thank You For Supporting Veterans

This assistance is possible thanks to generous contributions from sub-Branches to the Disaster Assistance Fund.

So far over $465,966 has been contributed to the disaster assistance fund by RSL sub-Branches. This leaves a balance of $354,327 which will be used for disaster assistance.

Thank you again to the District Councils and sub-Branches that we acknowledged in the previous updates. A full list of contributing sub-Branches can be seen here.

Our gratitude also goes to the organisations and individual donors who have generously supported RSL DefenceCare.


How to Seek Help or Contribute

Read the message about bushfire assistance to find detail on:

  • how sub-Branches seeking support for veterans can assist, and
  • how unaffected sub-Branches can make contributions to the Disaster Assistance Fund.
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