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1. Summary/Overview

This program provides financial support to owners and tenants of properties in the local government areas most impacted by the severe weather and flooding from 22 February 2022 (AGRN 1012) and the severe weather and flooding from 27 June 2022 (AGRN 1025) who are not covered by insurance. These payments help with urgent household repairs, replacing essential household goods, or restoring housing to a habitable condition.

2. Recovery Needs

2.1 Purpose/Objective

(a) The Back Home Program (Program) is made by agreement between the Commonwealth and NSW Governments under the Disaster Recovery Funding arrangements (DRFA). 
(b)  Under the Program, Eligible Applicants will be provided financial support where they are for directly impacted by: 
   (i) the NSW severe weather and flooding events commencing 22 February 2022 onwards (recorded under AGRN 1012), (Feb/March Event); and/or 
   (ii) the NSW severe weather and flooding events commencing 27 June 2022 onwards (recorded under AGRN 1025), (June/July Event), 
           (together, the Eligible Disasters).
(c) The Back Home Payments are intended as one-off payments for Eligible Applicants to help pay the costs of restoring housing to a Habitable Condition and/or replacing Essential Household Items where damaged as a direct result of the Eligible Disasters.

3. Funding

3.1 Funding Source
 
(a) The Program is jointly funded by the Australian and NSW Governments and administered by Service NSW under Category D of the DRFA, with the objective of contributing to the recovery of communities affected by the Eligible Disasters.

3.2 Available Payments 

(a) Subject to clauses 3.2 (e) and (f), payment will be made to Eligible Applicants as a one-off amount, as follows:
   (i) Owner-Occupiers will receive a one-off $20,000 payment to help pay for costs towards repairing or replacing Essential Household Items and/or restoring housing to a Habitable Condition.
   (ii) Owner-Investors will receive a one-off $15,000 payment to help pay for costs towards restoring housing to a Habitable Condition only; and
   (iii) Tenants will receive a one-off $5,000 payment to help pay for costs towards repairing or replacing Essential Household Items or costs associated with relocating Essential Household Items to a new place of abode.

(b) Where the Residential Lot comprises a single dwelling, the following number of applications will be accepted: 
   (i) one Owner-Occupier application, or
   (ii) where the dwelling is leased prior to the applicable Eligible Disaster, 
       (A) one Owner-Investor application and 
       (B) one Tenant application.  

(c) Where the Residential Lot comprises a Main Premises and one or more Separate Dwellings, the following number of applications will be accepted:
   (i) for the Main Premises, either: 
       (A) one Owner-Occupier application, or
       (B) where leased, prior to the applicable Eligible Disaster: 
          (I) one Owner-Investor application, and 
         (II) one Tenant application;
   (ii) for each Separate Dwelling:
        (A) one Owner-Investor application per approved Separate Dwelling; and/or
        (B) one Tenant application per Separate Dwelling, where leased prior to the applicable Eligible Disaster, irrespective of approval;  

(d) Residential Lots with multiple dwellings, shared living arrangements and/or multiple owners will need to designate one responsible person, as follows:
   (i) in the case of Owner-Occupiers or Owner-Investors, one responsible person to submit an application on behalf of all Owner-Occupiers/Owner-Investors and distribute funds; and 
   (ii) in the case of Tenants: 
       (A) for a Residential Lot with a single dwelling, one responsible Tenant to submit the application on behalf of all tenants and distribute funds; 
       (B) for a Residential Lot with multiple dwellings:
          (I) for the Main Premises one responsible person to submit the application on behalf of all Tenants and distribute funds; and
          (II) for Separate Dwellings, one responsible person per Separate Dwelling to submit the application on behalf of all Tenants within their dwelling.

Note: For the avoidance of doubt, Main Premises tenants and tenants in each Separate Dwelling can apply separately. 

(e) Persons that own and occupy a dwelling in a Residential Land Lease Community and are considered homeowners under the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013 (Leasing Dwelling) may apply as an Owner-Occupier under this program if the Leasing Dwelling arrangement was entered into prior to the applicable Eligible Disaster and remains current.

(f) Persons affected by both the Feb/March Event and the June/July Event for the same Eligible Address will be classed as “Returning Customers” and may be eligible for a second payment for additional damage caused exclusively by the June/July Event. For the avoidance of doubt, persons affected by both the Feb/March Event and June/July Event, in each case, at a different Eligible Address, will be classed as “One-time Customers”. 

3.3 How funding may be used

(a) The Back Home Payment may be used towards the cost of restoring housing to a Habitable Condition or replacing Essential Household Items which have been damaged as a direct result of the Eligible Disaster, such as:
   (i) for Owner-Occupiers and Owner-Investors, the inspection and safe reconnection of damaged utilities, including necessary replacement or repairs to electrical, gas, water, hot water, and sewerage equipment not otherwise the responsibility of utility companies;
   (ii) for Owner-Occupiers, Owner-Investors and Owner-Occupiers of Leasing Dwellings necessary reconstruction of a damaged dwelling, including restoration or replacement of damaged roofing, flooring, structural, walls, fittings and fixtures;
   (iii) for Owner-Occupiers, Tenants, and Owner-Occupier of Leasing Dwellings necessary replacement or repairs to damaged Essential Household Items including whitegoods, kitchen and household appliances, household laundry and cleaning equipment, cooking utensils, essential personal communications devices (non-business related), furniture and bedding; 
   (iv) for Tenants only, transportation and/or relocation costs related to moving Essential Household Items to a new place of abode. 

Refer to Appendix A, below, for a list of items that the funding is intended for, noting this list is not exhaustive.

(b) The Back Home Payment cannot be used for: 
   (i) the building of any new infrastructure which did not exist prior to the Eligible Disaster
   (ii) tailoring of temporary accommodation pods / modules (Government Pods), funded by the NSW Government. 
   (iii) replacement or repair of Essential Household Items not stored or located at the Residential Lot (e.g. items kept in a commercial storage facility or at an alternate address). 
   (iv) replacement or repair of damaged items that are used for business or commercial purposes
   (v) booking or rental costs for temporary or short-term accommodation or leasing of a new property, and
   (vi) damage to external parts of the dwelling, including driveways and private roads, unless the damage prevents safe access to the dwelling or impacts the structural integrity of the dwelling.

4. Eligibility Criteria

4.1 To be eligible, the applicant must be the owner of, or tenant residing in, a dwelling on a Residential Lot or a Leasing Dwelling that as a direct result of the relevant Eligible Disaster, has:
a)
   (i) been destroyed or needs to be demolished;
   (ii) been declared structurally unsound;
   (iii) incurred disrepair to the interior;
   (iv) its interior exposed the elements;
   (v) sewage, which has gotten inside; and/or
   (vi) sustained any such damage such that it is no longer habitable.

(b) for the Feb/March Event, such dwelling must be located in a Feb/March LGA;

(c) for the June/July Event, such dwelling must be located in a June/July LGA

Note: Service NSW will assess June/July Event applications against the NSW State Emergency Services database of addresses declared impacted by the June/July Event and may reject applications not listed in the database.
  
(d) the applicant must be unable to claim the costs of restoring the dwelling to a Habitable Condition or replacing Essential Household Items under an insurance policy or other Government support. For the avoidance of doubt, this includes applicants that:
   (i) are uninsured for severe weather and/or flood damage;
   (ii) have insurance for severe weather and/or flood damage but do not have sufficient funding from their insurance claim; or
   (iii) are otherwise unable to claim for severe weather and/or flood damage; and,

(e) the applicant must be ineligible for other, more comprehensive, support measures which are available for those on low incomes and with limited realisable assets.

4.2 For the purposes of clause 4.1, the damage must have been caused, in the case of:
   (a) One-time Customers applying for the Feb/March Event, exclusively by the Feb/March Event; 
   (b) One-time Customers applying for the June/July Event, exclusively by the June/July Event; and 
   (c) Returning Customers applying for: 
       (i) the first time, exclusively by the Feb/March Event; and 
       (ii) the second time, exclusively by the June/July Event. 

4.3 Alternative circumstances

(a) Dwellings that are not situated on land (for example, houseboats), may be eligible in certain circumstances.

Please contact Service NSW for more information regarding eligibility on 13 77 88 (available Monday to Friday between 7am and 7pm AEST). For translation and interpreter services, please call 13 14 50 and ask the interpreter to phone 13 77 88.

5. Administrative Arrangements

5.1 Timeframes and Key Dates

(a) Applications for the:
   (i) Feb/March Event will be accepted from 20 April 2022; and 
   (ii) June/July Event will be accepted from 5 August 2022. 

(b) Unless otherwise extended, applications will close: 
   (i) for the Feb/March Event, 12 months from the date in clause 5.1(a)(i); and 
   (ii) for the June/July Event, from the date in clause 5.1(a)(ii). 

5.2 Application Process and Requirements 

(a) Applications must be submitted via: 
   (i) the Service NSW website, or 
   (ii) the Service NSW mobile application. 

(b) Applicants must fully complete the online application and submit all requisite documentation as stated on the application before the application close date set out in clause 5.1(b). 

5.3 All applicants must:

(a) provide personal contact details (name, email and phone number);

(b) provide proof of identity;

(c) provide Australian bank account details for payment;

(d) state their relationship to the Residential Lot or Leasing Dwelling, i.e. Owner-Occupier, Owner-Investor or Tenant;

(e)  if the property is not listed on the State Emergency Service Damage Assessment Dashboard, supply photographic evidence of the damage caused by the applicable Eligible Disaster. Note: Returning Customers must also comply with clause 5.5.

5.4 Applicants must provide the following documents as evidence of ownership or occupation (as applicable): 

(a) if they are an Owner-Occupier: 
   (i) the Council Rates Notice for 2020-21 or 2021-22; and,
   (ii) a utility bill for the Eligible Address that is dated no more than 4 months prior to the date of the applicable Eligible Disaster; 

(b) if they are an Owner-Occupier of a Leasing Dwelling:
   (i) a copy of the relevant site agreement showing the applicant’s name. If there is no site agreement, evidence of payment of the relevant site fees; 
   (ii) evidence of ownership of the Leasing Dwelling, such as, the Contract for Sale to purchase the Leasing Dwelling. 
   (iii) a government-issued document in your name that displays the Eligible Address of the leasing dwelling;

Note: Service NSW will verify registration of the Residential Land Lease Community with NSW Fair Trading.

(c) if they are an Owner-Investor: 
   (i) the Council Rates Notice for 2020-21 or 2021-22; and
   (ii) a copy of the current lease agreement or a screenshot from the Rental Bond Database showing the details of the relevant lease;

(d) if they are a Tenant residing in a dwelling situated on a Residential Lot on which there is no other dwelling:
   (i) a copy of the current lease agreement or a screenshot from the Rental Bond Database showing the details of the relevant lease, and 
   (ii) a utility bill in their name that is dated no more than 4 months prior to the date of the Eligible Disaster, for the Eligible Address
   (together, Primary Documents)
   (iii) and cannot produce the Primary Document, they may substitute one of the Primary Documents for a government-issued document in their name that displays the Eligible Address, such as
       (A) vehicle registration notice, or 
       (B) a letter from Centrelink, the Australian Tax Office, Service NSW or Transport for NSW

(e) if they are a Tenant residing in a dwelling situated on a Residential Lot on which there are other dwellings:
   (i) for the Main Premises, Tenants must comply with clause 5.4(d) 
   (ii) for each Separate Dwelling, Tenants must provide:
       (A) a copy of the current lease agreement, commencing prior to the applicable Eligible Disaster or a screenshot from the Rental Bond Database showing the details of the relevant lease. If there is no written lease agreement, evidence of rental payments, including bank statements, a rental ledger and/or rental receipts, and
       (B) a utility bill in their name that is dated no more than 4 months prior to the date of the applicable Eligible Disaster. If this is not available, a government-issued document in their name that displays the applicable Eligible Address, and
       (C) photos of the Separate Dwelling in which the Tenant resides, showing its proximity to the Main Premises, and its kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living area, and toilet and laundry facilities.

(f) Service NSW may request additional evidence where it cannot verify the Eligible Address or any other fact, matter or statement.

5.5 For Returning Customers, Service NSW will assess the second application against previous claims and may request evidence to distinguish the second claim from previous claims, unless evidence has been provided previously. Such evidence may include:

(a) further photographic evidence of damage,

(b) tax invoices, official receipts, bank statements or other similar records to verify the amounts paid under the program have been used in accordance with clause 3.3, and

(c) any other evidence to verify any fact, matter or thing.

5.6 For auditing and eligibility purposes, Eligible Applicants may be required to demonstrate they: 

(a) are uninsured for severe weather and/or flooding

(b) have insufficient insurance to cover the costs of restoring the home to a habitable condition and/or replacing essential household contents; and 

(c) are otherwise unable to claim under insurance for severe weather and/or flood damage.

5.7 Eligible Applicants must retain records and receipts in relation to the items and services purchased using the Back Home Payment for auditing and eligibility purposes. 

5.8 Applicants must declare the information provided in their application is true and correct. Penalties may apply for false or misleading information. Where false or misleading information is provided, applications may be referred to law enforcement. 

5.9 Applicants consent to Service NSW conducting an audit of tax invoices, official receipts, bank statements or other similar records to verify the amounts paid under the program have been used in accordance with clause 3.3. 

5.10 Applicants must retain and provide on request, for a minimum of 24 months following the closing of the program, all documentation and evidence related to their eligibility and the application requirements outlined in these guidelines (including Evidence of Monies Paid). 

5.11 Before applying for financial assistance under this program, applicants should seek advice from their legal, business or financial advisers about the tax implications of this financial assistance.

6. Assessment and Approval Process

6.1 Complete applications will be assessed in the order in which they are lodged. Incomplete applications will not enter the assessment queue until all required information is provided.

6.2 Applications will be assessed against the eligibility criteria in these guidelines. 

6.3 Service NSW may request further information as necessary to assess an application. Failure to comply with such request may lead to rejection of an application.  

6.4 Resilience NSW may conduct site visits to assess the applicant’s eligibility and conduct compliance activities. For example, to assess that dwellings situated on the Residential Lot are damaged. 

6.5 In circumstances where an applicant does not provide photographic evidence that the Residential Lot is damaged and the NSW Government does not already have a record of the property being assessed as damaged, Service NSW may request the applicant provide further information to establish eligibility. Failure to comply with such request will be dealt within in accordance with clause 6.3. 

6.6 Service NSW reserves the right to refuse an application where eligibility criteria are not met, or where the applicant does not or cannot provide sufficient information to determine if eligibility criteria have been met. 

6.7 Applications submitted may be subject to audit activities by Service NSW or its agents, the purpose of which will be to determine compliance with program guidelines and terms and conditions.

7. Complaints Handling

7.1 Administering agency to develop and manage this process.

8. Important Information

8.1 These guidelines are correct at the time of publishing. 

8.2 Resilience NSW / Service NSW reserves the right to amend, alter or change these guidelines at any time, and it is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that they check the relevant website prior to application. 

8.3 The guidelines that apply to your application will be the guidelines that are current at the time your application is assessed by Service NSW.

8.4 Service NSW may share applicant information with other NSW Government agencies, including:

(a) Revenue NSW, for the purpose of verifying NSW Government home and/or content support received by Disaster Relief Grant applicants (available to those on low incomes and with limited realisable assets)

(b) Resilience NSW, for the purpose of verifying NSW Government home and/or content support received by Disaster Relief Grant applicants (available to those on low incomes and with limited realisable assets) and for program monitoring and evaluation

(c) Public Works Advisory (PWA), for the purposes of verifying property damage assessments

(d) De-identified disclosure of program statistics on Tableau and DOMO Dashboards. This is disclosed to NSW Treasury, Resilience NSW, PWA, DCJ, the Department of Customer Service (DCS) and the National Recovery and Resilience Agency (now called the National Emergency Management Agency – Cth) for the purpose of analysis and research.

(e) Identified disclosure of suspected cases of fraud to the NSW Police as a part of Service NSW’s obligations under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). 

(f) Disclosure of personal information to Revenue NSW if Service NSW suspects a contravention of payment conditions, or so that payments may be recovered.

8.5 Funding used other than in accordance with this Guideline and the Terms and Conditions will be repayable on demand.

9. Definitions

9.1  Terms or expressions starting with a capital letter have the meaning given in this section.

9.2 Defined Terms 

Administering Agency means the responsible agency/department/body for assessing and administering the Program. 

Back Home Payment means a payment made under the Program.

Disaster Relief Grant means the program administered by Resilience NSW as a Category A assistance measure to alleviate personal hardship or distress arising as a direct result of a disaster – Disaster Relief Grant.

DCS has the meaning given in clause 8.4(d). 

DRFA has the meaning given in clause 2.1(a).

Eligible Address means the street address of Residential Lot.

Eligible Applicant means a person who meets the eligibility criteria outlined in clause 4.1.

Eligible Disasters has the meaning given in clause 2.1(b).

Essential Household Items means items which contribute towards the provision of day-to-day shelter, comfort and sustenance and are considered necessary for maintaining a basic standard of living. This does not include items which are used for business or commercial purposes.

Evidence of Monies Paid may include: 
(a) a receipt, including the name, address and ABN (if applicable) of the entity that issued the receipt and a description of each item to which the receipt relates, and/or
(b) a copy of the Eligible Applicant’s transaction and/or bank statement.

Feb/March Event has the meaning given in clause 2.1(b)(i). 

Feb/March LGAs means the local government areas of Armidale, Ballina, Bellingen, Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Byron, Central Coast, Cessnock, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Glen Innes Severn, Hawkesbury, Hornsby, Kyogle, Lismore, Lithgow, Penrith, Richmond Valley, Singleton, Tenterfield, The Hills, Tweed and includes the entirety of any suburb partly within these local government areas and partly within another local government area.   

Habitable Condition means a dwelling that is fit for human habitation, possesses basic amenities in working order and not being in substantial disrepair.

June/July Event has the meaning given in clause 2.1(b)(ii). 

June/July LGAs means the local government areas of Blacktown, Camden, Canterbury-Bankstown, Central Coast, Cessnock, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Hornsby, Liverpool, Maitland, Mid Coast, Penrith, Port Stephens, Singleton, Sutherland, The Hills, Wollongong and includes the entirety of any suburb partly within these local government areas and partly within another local government area.

Leasing Dwelling has the meaning given in clause 3.2(e). 

Main Premises means a self-contained dwelling situated on a Residential Lot that includes at least one kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living area and that also includes toilet and laundry facilities, being a dwelling: 

(a) that comprises one or more major sections,

(b) in the case of units/flats/duplexes on unsubdivided Residential Lot, one designated unit/flat/duplex, and

(c) that is not a motor vehicle, trailer or other registrable vehicle within the meaning of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW),

and includes any associated structures that form part of the dwelling.

One-time Customer means a customer affected by either the Feb/March Event or the June/July Event in relation to a single Eligible Address, but not both events.  

Owner-Investor means an Eligible Applicant who is the registered proprietor of the Residential Lot, in which they do not reside.

Owner-Occupier means an Eligible Applicant who is the registered proprietor of and resides at the Residential Lot, maintaining essential items of clothing, bedding, furniture and other goods necessary for the provision of day to day shelter, comfort and sustenance at the relevant Residential Lot. 

Owner-Occupier of Leasing Dwelling means an Eligible Applicant that satisfies clause 3.2(e).

PWA has the meaning given in clause 8.4(c).

Rental Bond Database means NSW Fair Trading’s service for lodging rental bonds. For more information, please visit the NSW Fair Trading website.

Residential Lot means a lot designated for residential purposes, with its own title, valued as one assessment under the Land Tax Management Act 1956 and its dominant use is for residential accommodation, but not hotels, motels, guest-houses, backpacker hostels, nursing homes, boarding or lodging houses. 

Primary Documents has the meaning given to it in clause 5.4(d).

Program has the meaning given in clause 2.1(a). 

Returning Customer means a customer affected by both the Feb/March Event and the June/July Event, having previously received a Back Home Payment in relation to the Feb/March Event for the same Eligible Address. 

Separate Dwelling means a dwelling, not being the Main Premises, but linked to an Eligible Address, such as a granny flat, unit/flat/duplex on an unsubdivided Residential Lot, caravan, motorhome, relocatable home, cabin or shipping container where it: 

(a) includes at least one kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living area and includes toilet and laundry facilities and;

(b) comprises one or more major sections;

and includes any associated structures that form part of the dwelling.

Tenant means an Eligible Applicant, not being the owner, who has a current lease agreement for and resides at the Main Premises or Separate Dwelling (as the case may be), maintaining essential items of clothing, bedding, furniture and other goods necessary for the provision of day to day shelter, comfort and sustenance at the relevant Main Premises or Separate Dwelling.

10. Evaluation

The NSW Government is committed to providing excellent service that responds to your needs through well targeted programs. For this reason, the NSW Government evaluates its programs. This sometimes includes contact with customers to ask about your experience of the assistance you received, for example via surveys. The NSW Government will always treat the responses you provide as confidential and use the information only for the purposes it was collected.  

Appendix A

Indicative items that the funding is intended for (not exhaustive)

(a) The Back Home Payments may be used to assist in the repair and replacement of the following essential household contents:

(i) Air conditioner
(ii) Bed bases
(iii) Bed mattresses
(iv) Bedding
(v) Car seat – baby or child
(vi) Cot – baby
(vii) Clothesline
(viii) Clothing
(ix) Computer, communications, and internet accessories
(x) Dining wall unit
(xi) Dining/kitchen suite
(xii) Dressing table/drawers
(xiii) Fan and/or heater
(xiv) Floor coverings
(xv) Fry pan/Wok (Electric) 
(xvi) High chair
(xvii) Hot water service
(xviii) Iron and ironing board
(xix) Kettle 
(xx) Kitchen cutlery/crockery
(xxi) Lawn mower
(xxii) Linen/laundry cupboard
(xxiii) Lounge suite
(xxiv) Microwave
(xxv) Refrigerator
(xxvi) Rice Cooker / slow cooker / grill
(xxvii) School requisites
(xxviii) Stove / oven
(xxix) TV
(xxx) Toaster
(xxxi) Tools – basic
(xxxii) Tools – required for employment (tools of trade)
(xxxiii) Towels
(xxxiv) Toys/games
(xxxv) Vacuum cleaner
(xxxvi) Wardrobe 
(xxxvii) Washing machine
(xxxviii) Window coverings

(b) The Back Home Payments may be used to assist in the repair and replacement of the following structural components:

(i) Foundations
(ii) External wall materials
(iii) Roof materials
(iv) Walls and skirting boards
(v) Lights and power points
(vi) Flooring
(vii) Doors and door frames
(viii) Windows and window frames
(ix) Ceiling and cornice

(c) The Back Home Payments may be used to assist in arranging the following services:

(i) the inspection and safe reconnection of utilities
(ii) the cleaning of a residential dwelling to remove flood debris and/or mould
(iii) moving to a new property (Tenants only).

Last updated: 11 October 2022