Torrington fires declared a disaster, opening funding options

Those affected by the Torrington fires in early March now have access to more funding sources to aid their recovery.
Those affected by the Torrington fires in early March now have access to more funding sources to aid their recovery.

Those who suffered in the Torrington bushfires in early March have been added to the eligibility list for the jointly-funded commonwealth/state Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).

"This disaster declaration relates to a number of bushfires that burnt in the Tenterfield area and threatened people and property over a number of days during mid-March this year," an Office of Emergency Management spokesperson said.

"The declaration includes the Catarrh Creek Road fire and the Silent Grove Road fire in the Tenterfield Local Government Area.

"This package is in addition to assistance already provided following the earlier Bruxner Road fires that impacted Drake, Tabulam and surrounds."

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The Catarrh Creek Road bushfire burnt more than 5200 hectares of land, including 3725 hectares of private land.

The Silent Grove Road bushfire burnt over 491 hectares of land, including 357 hectares of national park.

The fires also threatened homes, rural properties and infrastructure including roads and electricity supply.

AsNSW Government expenditure on eligible measures for this natural disaster is expected to exceed the $240,000 small disaster threshold, it triggers commonwealth disaster funding under the DRFA, allowing for additional assistance measures to be made available.

(The state government pays for this assistance and is reimbursed a percentage by the commonwealth.)

As there is no cap on funding for impacted communities, assistance is provided on an as-needed basis, provided eligibility criteria is met.

Assistance measures include:

  • help for people who are uninsured, have sustained damage to homes or contents, and meet an assets and income test;
  • help for council with the costs of cleaning up and restoring damaged essential public assets;
  • concessional interest rate loans for small businesses, primary producers and not-for-profit organisations.

For information on personal hardship and distress assistance, contact the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444 during business hours.

To apply for a concessional loan, grant or freight subsidy, contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit www.raa.nsw.gov.au.

Federal MP Barnaby Joyce said the declaration is a real delivery for people affected by these bushfires.

"It's vitally important that we able to provide the assistance to help people get back on their feet," he said.

A large portion of DRFA funding is expected to go to firefighting agencies to cover the cost of their operations.

NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said that due to the threat to life and property, a significant multi-agency and community firefighting response was required.

"Considerable resources were required to bring these fires under control, including mass deployment of firefighting personnel, appliances and aircraft," Minister Elliott said.

"As always, our first responders did a remarkable job in protecting the communities under threat and I commend them for their efforts."

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