Money going where it is needed: Red Cross

The Red Cross insists that money from its bushfire appeal is getting to those who need it.

Red Cross media adviser Susan Cullinan was not able to say how much of the $127 million raised was getting to fire-affected people in the Snowy Valleys, but insisted that it has been getting to those around NSW.

“We’re unable to provide a geographic breakdown at this point but do be assured all eligible people who have lost a home in the bushfires, who have been injured in the bushfires, who have lost a next of kin, or whose house has been damaged by the bushfires are receiving Red Cross bushfire grants,” she said.

Red Cross says $5 million has gone to on-the-ground disaster services, which is 24/7 support including evacuations, relief centres and outreach services.

This is one of three categories the money has been divided into.

The next category is immediate assistance grants, and $50 million of this money has been spent on supporting people whose homes were destroyed, $10 million to make structurally damaged homes safe to return to, $1 million for bereavement payments and $500,000 to support people hospitalised for injuries as a result of fires.

The third category is mid-to-long-term recovery, in which $42.5 million will be allocated to further bushfire assistance and $18 million to support community recovery for three years or more.

Red Cross concedes that up to 10 cents in the dollar would be spent on administration costs, but insists they are working to keep this as low as possible.

The are three categories of grants people can apply for; they being emergency grants for people who have lost their homes (a $20,000 payment to support people whose primary place of residence was destroyed); injury grants for people who were hospitalised due to the fires (a $7,500 payment for people who have spent two days or more in hospital as a result of physical injuries or mental health issues as a direct result of bushfires from July 2019) and primary residence repair grant for home owners whose homes have been structurally damaged (a $5,000 payment for home owners whose homes have been structurally damaged and require repair to make them safe to live in).

Grant applications will be open until April 30.

“More than $14 million has already been paid in Emergency Grants so far which is for people whose primary places of residence have been destroyed or are permanently uninhabitable,” Ms Cullinan said.

“These grants more than double existing immediate financial assistance, with the Red Cross Bushfire Advisory Panel allocating a further $30.5 million, with a new total of $61.5 million now available for

immediate cash relief. Currently, around $1 million a day is being distributed to people impacted by the fires.

“Red Cross has already committed $18 million to fund tailored recovery programs in the affected communities for at least the next three years in coordination with communities, government and community agencies. A further $5 million is allocated to fund Red Cross emergency teams of staff and volunteers to respond to emergencies, helping people with practical and emotional support, so far this year this has been mainly in the bushfires affected areas around the country.

“There remains a balance of around $42.5 million that will be used for further immediate and longer term bushfire support.”