As the region rebuilds, a range of grants and loans have been made available for those impacted by Cyclone Debbie.
As the region rebuilds, a range of grants and loans have been made available for those impacted by Cyclone Debbie. Photo courtesy Th3rd Dimension M

HOW-TO GUIDE: Disaster relief and how to get it

AS NORTH Queensland licks its wounds from Cyclone Debbie, a raft of financial support programs have been activated by Federal and State governments to support people and businesses affected.

Up to 20 different council areas in Queensland have been targeted with relief efforts, but only Mackay and Whitsunday have had all 11 assistance packages through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements triggered.

The programs activated seek to support individuals, businesses, primary producers, non-profits and local councils who have experienced significant damages and lack the means to support themselves.

As of 8:30am Monday, 7229 payments had been made and 379 were pending.

A further 5939 applications had been received in a 24-hour period and 3889 are still pending approval.

Other organisations have also offered support including the RACQ Foundation, in the form of reconstruction grants for community groups of up to $200,000.

"We know many community organisations will be doing it tough as a result of the cyclone and we're here to assist these groups in recovering as quickly as possible," RACQ Foundation spokesperson Renee Smith said.

Established in response to the 2011 floods, Ms Smith said RACQ Foundation had been set up with weather events like Tropical Cyclone Debbie in mind.

Applications for disaster assistance can be made online or by calling one of a few emergency hotlines.

However, for those who are unable to access the internet or a telephone, hubs have been set up across the region and are open between 9am-4:30pm daily, except for Cannonvale and Beenleigh.

Hubs are located at:

  • Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre, Alfred Street
  • Andergrove Community Centre, Celeber Drive
  • Proserpine State High School Hall, Ruge Street
  • Bowen TAFE, Queens Road
  • Cannonvale TAFE, Shute Harbour Road (10:30am - 3:30pm)
  • Beenleigh Event Centre, corner of Crete and Kent streets (9am - 5pm)

Relief packages are across four areas including individuals, farmers, businesses and organisations.

INDIVIDUALS:

Immediate Hardship Assistance

  • A grant available to address the immediate needs (e.g. food, clothing, emergency accommodation or medical supplies) of individuals and families who are unable to provide for their own resources.
  • The grant amount is $180 for individuals and up to $900 for families.
  • Immediate Hardship Assistance is only available until April 23 and is not means tested.
  • Apply online here or call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349.

Immediate Hardship Assistance - Essential Services

  • A second grant available for individuals or families who are directly impacted by the loss of one or more essential services for more than five days, are suffering hardship and are unable to provide their own recovery from their own resources.
  • The grant amount is $150 for individuals and up to $750 for families.
  • Immediate Hardship Assistance - Essential Services is only available until Tuesday, April 4 and is not means tested.
  • Apply online here or call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349.

Essential Household Contents Grant

  • The grant is a financial contribution towards the repair or replacement of uninsured essential household contents.
  • The maximum grant amount is $1765 for an individual and $5300 for couples or families.
  • Essential Household Contents Grant is only available until April 23 and income tests are applied.
  • Grants are only paid to people if an individual's income is below $933 a week, or $1290 for a couple.
  • Apply online here or call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349.

Structural Assistance Grant

  • The grant is a financial contribution toward the repair of damage to a dwelling (including caravans and residential vessels) caused by an eligible disaster to return it to a safe, habitable and secure condition.
  • The maximum grant amount is $10,995 for individuals and $14,685 for couples or families.
  • Income tests are applied to determine those persons who require support to provide for their own recovery or would otherwise experience more serious hardship.
  • Grants are only paid to people if an individual's income is below $933 a week, or $1290 for a couple.
  • Apply online here or call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349.

Essential Services Safety and Reconnection Scheme

  • Provides financial assistance of up to $5000 to individuals and families as a contribution towards safety inspections of and repairs to essential services (e.g. electricity, gas, water and sewerage) damaged by an eligible disaster.
  • This grant is in addition to the grants above and does not affect the maximum amount payable.
  • Income tests are applied to determine those persons who require support to provide for their own recovery or would otherwise experience more serious hardship.
  • Grants are only paid to people if an individual's income is below $933 a week, or $1290 for a couple.
  • Apply online here or call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349.

Disaster Recovery Payment

  • A one-off financial assistance to eligible Australians who have been seriously injured, who have lost their homes or whose homes have been directly damaged by the tropical cyclone.
  • Up to $1000 is available per eligible adult and $400 per eligible child.
  • Applications can be made until September 30 and can be done here or by calling 180 22 66.

Disaster Recovery Allowance

  • An ongoing income support payment to employees, primary producers and sole traders who can demonstrate they have experienced a loss of income as a direct result of the tropical cyclone.
  • Fortnightly payments for up to 13 weeks can be made equivalent to the applicable rate of Newstart or Youth Allowance, depending on the person's circumstances.
  • Applications can be made until September 30 and can be done here or by calling 180 22 66.

New Zealand ex-gratia disaster recovery payment

  • A payment is being provided to eligible New Zealand 'non-protected' special category visa holders who have been adversely affected by the tropical cyclone.
  • Up to $1000 is available per eligible adult and $400 per eligible child.
  • Applications can be made until September 30 and can be done here or by calling 180 22 66.

New Zealand ex-gratia income support allowance

  • An income support allowance is available to eligible New Zealand 'non-protected' special category visa holders who can demonstrate they have experienced a loss of income as a direct result of the tropical cyclone.
  • Fortnightly payments for up to 13 weeks can be made equivalent to the applicable rate of Newstart or Youth Allowance, depending on the person's circumstances.
  • Applications can be made until September 30 and can be done here or by calling 180 22 66.

FARMERS:

Natural Disaster Assistance (Concessional Loans) for Primary Producers

  • The purpose of the assistance is to provide concessional loans to primary producers whose assets (including fodder) have been significantly damaged as a direct result of an eligible disaster and who are unable to repair or replace the damaged assets or return to viable operations from their own resources but demonstrate reasonable prospects of re-establishing on a viable basis with the assistance given.
  • Loans are available for restocking and/or carry-on requirements including re-planting, restoring or re-establishing areas affected by a disaster.
  • The maximum loan amount is $250,000 for any one eligible disaster for which the NDRRA were activated.
  • A maximum initial repayment term of seven years applies.
  • Application forms and more information can be found online here.

Essential Working Capital Loans Scheme for Primary Producers

  • The purpose of assistance under this scheme is to assist in meeting the needs of primary producers who have suffered a significant loss of income as a consequence of an eligible disaster, by providing the essential working capital required to continue business operations.
  • The loan must be used for essential working capital, being the amount required to continue primary producer operations for the next 12 months or until the next major income is received.
  • The maximum loan amount is $100,000 for any one eligible disaster for which the NDRRA were activated.
  • A maximum initial repayment term of seven years applies.
  • Application forms and more information can be found online here.

Freight Subsidies to Primary Producers

  • Activated to assist primary producers with movement of feed, building/fencing materials, stock, fodder, water, machinery/equipment and fuels.
  • Except in exceptional circumstances, the rate will not exceed 50% of costs. For road transport, a maximum rate per kilometre may also apply.
  • A maximum subsidy ceiling of $5000 will apply to each recipient per NDRRA activation.
  • To apply and for more information visit here or call Business Queensland on 13 25 23.

BUSINESSES:

Natural Disaster Assistance (Concessional Loans) for Small Business

  • Loans are available for re-establishing the viable operation of the business including by repairing or replacing damaged plant and equipment, repairing or replacing buildings, supplying stock for up to one month to replace lost stock and maintaining the liquidity of the business.
  • A small business is a business that employs less than 20 full-time equivalent staff.
  • The maximum loan amount is $250,000 for any one eligible disaster for which the NDRRA has been activated.
  • A maximum initial repayment term of seven years applies.
  • Application forms and more information can be found online here.

Essential Working Capital Loans Scheme for Small Business

  • Concessional loans to small businesses who have suffered a significant loss of income as a consequence of an eligible disaster.
  • The purpose of assistance under this scheme is to assist in meeting the needs of small businesses that have suffered a significant loss of income as a consequence of an eligible disaster, by providing the essential working capital required to continue business operations.
  • The loan must be used for essential working capital, being the amount required to continue small business operations for the next 12 months or until the next major income is received.
  • The maximum loan amount is $100,000 for any one eligible disaster for which the NDRRA were activated.
  • A maximum initial repayment term of seven years applies.
  • Application forms and more information can be found online here.

ORGANISATIONS:

Natural Disaster Assistance (Concessional Loan and Grant Packages) for Non-Profit Organisations

  • Concessional loan/grant packages to non-profit organisations which have suffered direct damage caused by an eligible disaster.
  • The maximum amount of the grant and loan package is $105,000.
  • A maximum repayment term of seven years applies.
  • Application forms and more information can be found online here.

Essential Working Capital Loans Scheme for Non-Profit Organisations

  • The purpose of assistance under this scheme is to assist in meeting the needs of non-profit organisations that have suffered a significant loss of income as a consequence of an eligible disaster, by providing the essential working capital required to continue operations.
  • The loan must be used for essential working capital, being the amount required to continue non-profit organisation operations for the next 12 months or until the next major income is received.
  • The maximum loan amount is $100,000 for any one eligible disaster for which the NDRRA were activated.
  • A maximum initial repayment term of seven years applies.
  • Application forms and more information can be found online here.

RACQ Foundation Community Grants

  • Community groups can access funding up to $50,000, and up to $200,000 in exceptional circumstances, to repair and reconstruct damage sustained during the storm.
  • Any project supported by the funding must be completed within 12 months and organisation which have applied in the past year are not eligible.
  • Applications close 13 June 2017.
  • An application form can be downloaded here, while more information can be accessed by calling 07 3872 8603.

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