Visit our COVID-19 page for information and advice on the assistance available for NSW residents and businesses.

Use this guide to find support and plan what you need to do if you've lost your home in a bushfire. For more information, including our Disaster Assistance Finder, see Bushfire customer care service

Look after your health and stay safe

Resources to keep you updated, healthy and safe.

Stay updated

For the latest NSW bushfires information, you can:

Emergency services

To report an unattended fire or emergency, call:

Traffic, road closures and public transport 

Bushfire registration

If you've been impacted by the fires, register with Register. Find. Reunite. This Red Cross service finds and reunites family and friends after an emergency.

Returning home safely

For health advice on returning home safely after a bushfire, such as wearing protective clothing, handling waste and managing food and water supplies, visit NSW Health.

NSW Government experts will check every fire-damaged property for asbestos. Do not enter your property until you have been told it is safe. Watch the video below to learn about the dangers of fire-damaged properties.

Keeping safe from asbestos after a bushfire

The video starts with a title card showing the NSW Government logo that reads, “Keeping safe from asbestos after a bushfire”.

Narrator: “If your house or business had asbestos present and has been damaged by fire, this could become a health risk.”

We see burnt-out trees, and the remains of a fire-damaged building including fibro and metal items including shelving, a trolley, a barrel and corrugated iron.

Narrator: “Asbestos is mainly found in structures built before 1990.”

Close-ups of broken pieces of asbestos on the ground.

Narrator: “It can be in the fibro cement sheeting that is in walls, ceilings, eaves and roofs, as well as insulation.”

Close-ups of burnt out roofing materials as well as metal benches.

Narrator: “Houses, sheds, garages and out houses could all be affected.”

Another shot of burnt out trees and a burnt-out structure that looks like it might have been a shed with benches and toolboxes strewn around alongside broken pieces of asbestos.

Then there is a shot of a large burnt out shed being inspected by Government officials.

Narrator: “New South Wales Government experts will check every fire damaged property for asbestos.”

A shot of a Government official in full Personal Protective Equipment including suit, gloves, mask and helmet, picking up a piece of asbestos with a tool and inspecting it before placing it in a sealed bag to be taken for testing.

Then there is a shot of a burnt tree with a burnt-out structure behind it.

Narrator: “Warning: do not enter your property until you have been told it is safe.”

A shot of Government officials inspecting a property with the owners.

Narrator: “For more information – and to register for clean-up, go to service dot N S W dot gov dot au or call 13 77 88.”

There is a title card with the NSW Government logo that reads, “For more information, and to register for clean-up, go to www.service.nsw.gov.au or call 13 77 88”.

Air quality

The AQI is a report of air quality and indicates how clean or polluted the air is in areas across NSW. For air quality readings that are updated hourly, visit Current and forecast air quality.

Medications and prescriptions

For advice on how to access medications, prescriptions or Medicare, DVA or Centrelink cards that have been lost or destroyed during the bushfires, visit NSW Health.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

If you're an NDIS participant in a bushfire-affected region, call 1800 800 110 for priority support. You can also visit NDIS Latest news to find out where Services Australia's Mobile Service Teams are being deployed on a given day.

Find somewhere to stay

Visit the NSW Office of Emergency Management (OEM) for the locations of the current Evacuation Centres, Recovery Centres and Disaster Welfare Assistance Points (DWAPs).

If you have immediate needs such as temporary accommodation, food or water, visit your nearest DWAP and register for assistance. If you cannot get to a DWAP, call Service NSW on 13 77 88.

The Bushfire Housing Assistance Service provides help with:

  • emergency temporary accommodation
  • a private rental bond and advance rent costs
  • sourcing accommodation options from the private rental and short term housing sector
  • sourcing accommodation options in your local communities or areas where you have family or local networks.

You can access the service by visiting Find a housing office and entering your postcode, suburb or town in the search bar. Your nearest housing office will display.

Anglicare

Anglicare is providing assistance to bushfire-impacted communities through emergency housing, homelessness support and food relief. If you've been affected by the bushfire crisis call 1800 875 153 or 02 6152 8444.

Anglicare locations fall within 3 Anglican dioceses: 

  • Bathurst
  • Canberra/Goulburn
  • Riverina.

Care for animals

Agricultural and Animal Services Hotline

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Local Land Services (LLS) are providing assistance to landholders and communities with animal welfare-related issues.

Contact the Agricultural and Animal Services Hotline on 1800 814 647 for:

  • emergency fodder (up to 3 days supply)
  • stock water
  • stock assessment
  • stock euthanasia and burial
  • livestock feeding and management advice
  • care of animals in evacuation centres.

Charles Sturt University

The Equine Centre is treating severely scorched horses. For assistance, call 02 6933 2323.  

RSPCA

For assistance with pets, livestock (including horses), and wildlife: 

University of Sydney

  • The Avian Reptile and Exotic Pet Hospital has opened a 24/7 bushfire wildlife emergency advice hotline for veterinarians and wildlife carers who need immediate advice. Call 0408 937 047
  • The Koala Health Club is providing veterinarians and other wildlife agencies free chlamydia testing kits for koalas, to minimise the spread of the disease. 

WIRES

For advice and assistance regarding injured wildlife, visit WIRES Emergency Advice, or call 1300 094 737.

Replace lost documents

Information on how to replace your important documents. 

Birth, Marriage, Change of Name certificates

Birth, Marriage or Change of Name certificates that have been destroyed due to the bushfires can be reissued at no charge at your nearest Service NSW Centre.

Service NSW can also help you to replace certificates registered in other Australian states and territories or in New Zealand.

Citizenship documents

If your passport has been lost or damaged, you may be eligible for a free replacement. You'll only need to provide basic information to confirm your identity and that you were in a bushfire-affected area. No application form will be required.

Call the Australian Passport Information Service on 131 232.

An Australian citizenship certificate can be replaced free of charge provided you apply within 18 months of the bushfire event. To apply for a replacement, you'll need:

Note: If your Australian citizenship evidence is damaged, you'll also need to provide the damaged citizenship evidence.

Election enrolment

If you are temporarily absent from your enrolled address due to the bushfires, you don't need to update your enrolment. For more information, visit the Australian Electoral Commission's enrolment advice page.

Family law documents

If your divorce order, current orders or other family law documents have been lost or destroyed in the bushfires, you can get a replacement copy at no charge at a family law registry. Visit the Federal Circuit Court of Australia’s website for more information. 

Fishing licences

If your current recreational fishing licence has been lost or destroyed in the bushfires, it can be replaced at no charge by calling 02 4424 7499 or emailing recfish.licensing@dpi.nsw.gov.au.

Medicare card

If your Medicare card has been damaged or lost in the bushfires, you can request a new card by:

  • using your Medicare online account through myGov or your Medicare mobile app
  • calling 132 011
  • visiting a service centre with proof of your identity, such as your driver licence.

Your new card will replace your old card. You’ll have the same Medicare number that you did before, but your old card will no longer be valid. We’ll send your new card in 3 to 4 weeks to the address you give us. 

You can use a digital copy of your Medicare card in the meantime.

NSW Fair Trading licences, permits and certificates

Free replacement of the following licences, permits or certificates that have been destroyed or lost during the bushfires:

  • home building: contractor, qualified supervisor, tradesperson
  • property and real estate
  • motor vehicle dealer or repairers
  • pawnbrokers and second-hand dealers
  • tattoo parlour or tattooist
  • owner-builder
  • tow truck.

To apply for a replacement card use the Application for a Duplicate Licence, Certificate or Permit – PDF, and note on the form that the reason for the card replacement is that it was lost in the bushfires. Also provide the home address if it is different to your nominated address.

Free Owner-Builder Permit where you opt to rebuild or repair your home damaged or destroyed by a bushfire (all other standard requirements and associated development approvals apply).

For further assistance, visit your nearest Service NSW Centre or call 13 77 88.

SafeWork NSW licences, permits and certificates

Free replacement of the following licences, permits and certificates that have been destroyed or lost during the bushfires: 

  • white card
  • high risk work licence
  • explosives licence
  • asbestos and demolition licence
  • plant registrations
  • traffic control licence.

To arrange a replacement, call 13 10 50.

Vehicle registrations and licences

Registration and licensing concessions and refunds will be offered to customers if their vehicle or other relevant documentation has been lost, damaged or destroyed during the NSW bushfires.

  • Replacement cards (driver licences, NSW Photo Cards or Mobility Parking Scheme cards) will be issued for free if cards have been lost or damaged during the NSW bushfires.  
  • NSW Photo Cards are posted to customers generally within 5 business days.
  • Driver licence holders will receive a receipt which will act as a temporary licence for a period of 30 days until their photo card arrives in the post.
  • You can download the Service NSW app to access your NSW Digital Driver Licence. The digital driver licence is legal for use across NSW at no additional cost.

For more information, visit the Natural disasters and emergencies - customer assistance policy at the Transport for NSW website.

Vessel registrations, boat and PWC licences

Note: For requests by email or mail, the replacement will be sent to the address shown on the licence or registration. If you want it sent to a different address, you'll need to make your request by phone, or in person at a Service NSW Centre.

Help with insurance claims

Most policies cover bushfires, but you should contact your insurance provider to check your level of cover as well as waiting periods and exclusions.

Support

Get financial support

Information on the financial assistance, such as payments, grants and counselling, that are available to those impacted by bushfires. 

Disaster relief payments

Disaster relief payments that are made to individuals and businesses impacted by the bushfires are tax exempt.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is also providing automatic deferral of lodgement and payment obligations for individuals and businesses in bushfire-affected communities. The ATO Emergency Support Infoline is 1800 806 218.

Support for New Zealanders:

  • Ex-gratia Disaster Recovery Payment – a one-off payment of $1,000 per adult, $1,000 per partner or dependent adult and $400 for each child younger than 16. For New Zealanders who have been significantly affected by the bushfires. It’s not for minor damage or inconvenience.
  • Ex-gratia Disaster Recovery Allowance – short-term income assistance (up to 13 weeks) for New Zealanders who can show they lost income as a direct result of the bushfires.

Australian Red Cross

The Red Cross is expanding its financial assistance for people who lost their homes in the bushfires, to help ensure they have somewhere safe to stay as winter approaches.

Recovery is a long term process, and the Red Cross is committed to staying with bushfire-hit communities for as long as it takes. They urge people who lost their homes to come forward and seek the assistance.

The following cash grants are available and applications will be open until 31 August 2020.

  • Emergency grant – a $20,000 payment if your primary place of residence has been destroyed or rendered uninhabitable.
  • Re-establishment grant – formerly the 'Rebuild grant' of $20,000, this grant has now been increased to $30,000. It is open to home owners whose primary place of residence was destroyed. It has been made more flexible to support people who are not immediately ready to rebuild, and need extra support settling into somewhere safe for winter.
    If you've have already received the Rebuild grant, you can still apply for the additional $10,000.
  • Injury grant – a $7500 payment if you've spent 2 or more days in hospital due to physical injuries or mental health issues resulting from the bushfires, from July 2019.
  • Primary residence repair grant – up to $10,000 payment if your home has been structurally damaged and needs repair to make it safe to live in.

COVID-19 information

If you need help applying and/or uploading documents, and you're unable to get to friends and family due to social distancing restrictions, call 1800 733 276.

Visit Red Cross Bushfire Grants Q&A for more information.

Financial counselling services

Financial institutions

Various banks are providing help for bushfire-affected individuals through a range of financial assistance packages, deferred loans, waived fees and charges, grants and relief. Contact your bank's helpline for more information on the options available to you.

Long service levy exemption – building and construction

If you're replacing or repairing buildings destroyed or damaged as a result of the 2019/20 NSW bushfires, you can apply for an exemption from the Long Service levy.

The exemption applies to the first $1,000,000 (inc GST) spent on repairing or rebuilding a damaged property or building.

For expenditure of $1,000,000 and above, you'll be required to pay a partial levy.

Applications must be lodged by 2 March 2023.

For more information visit Long Service Corporation.

NSW Government stamp duty relief

If you lost your home in the bushfires and you're intending to buy in another location rather than rebuild, the NSW Government is offering up to $55,000 towards the stamp duty on the replacement property.

The stamp duty relief is aimed at providing people with an option to get back on their feet and into their own home faster.

For more information visit NSW bushfire transfer duty relief scheme.

Note: $55,000 would be the approximate stamp duty payable on a property priced at around $1.25 million. Any amount above the $55,000 would be payable by the purchaser.

NSW Rural Assistance Authority (RAA)

Call the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 for:

  • Sporting club assistance – concessional loans for eligible sporting clubs
  • Church and non-profit organisation assistance – up to $15,000 recovery grants (33 LGAs) and concessional loans for eligible churches and non-profit organisations.
  • The Natural Disaster Transport Subsidy pays for the cost of transporting:
    • fodder and/or water to an affected property
    • stock to sale or slaughter
    • stock to/from agistment.

See Disaster relief loans and Grants and subsidies for more information.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is working with federal, state and local government, as well as community organisations to best meet the needs of people impacted by the 2019–2020 bushfires.

They are providing emotional support and referrals, and the following financial assistance.

  • Hardship recovery grant – assistance to individuals and families experiencing ongoing extreme hardship as a result of the bushfire disaster.
  • Loss of residence grant – assistance to individuals and families in bushfire impacted areas whose primary place of residence (owned or leased) has been destroyed or rendered uninhabitable due to the 2019–2020 bushfires.

The grants are limited to one grant per household, and are available to eligible applicants over the age of 18, who:

  • suffered loss from the 2019–2020 bushfires
  • lived or worked in a bushfire affected area at the time of the fires.

To apply for a grant, or if you have further questions, call 1300 662 217 or email sal.disasters@salvationarmy.org.au.

Clearing your property

The NSW Government and the Commonwealth are covering the full cost of cleaning up eligible NSW properties that have been destroyed by bushfires since 1 July 2019. This includes both insured and uninsured properties.

Laing O’Rourke Australia has been appointed to lead the clean-up and they'll be engaging qualified local contractors and suppliers.

If you're a contractor based in a bushfire-affected area and you're able to provide clean-up related goods and/or services, see Register your interest to assist in the bushfire clean-up.

If you'd like help with the cleaning up of your property, see Register to opt in to the NSW bushfire clean-up.

For health advice on returning safely to your home or business after a bushfire, such as wearing protective clothing, handling waste and managing food and water supplies, visit NSW Health.

Only licensed builders, tradespeople and contractors should be engaged to undertake remediation work associated with:

  • asbestos contamination
  • demolition of structures
  • specialist rebuilding and fit-out work such as:
    • electrical wiring
    • plumbing
    • drainage
    • gasfitting
    • air conditioning
    • refrigeration (except plug-in appliances). 

To check a builder, tradesperson or related licence, see Check a builder or tradesperson licence.

Clean-up fact sheets

Fences

If your land borders public land and you've had fences damaged or destroyed in the 2019/20 NSW bushfires, you can apply for funding to help cover the cost of rebuilding boundary fences. 

Up to $5000 per kilometre is available as part of the 'Supporting our neighbours - public land boundary fencing program'. If you’ve already started rebuilding, you can still receive a backdated payment.

For more information or to apply, visit Local Land Services or call 1300 778 080.

Get mental health support

Natural disasters and traumatic events impact much more than just the physical environment. They can have a profound effect on the mental health and well-being of affected communities.

24/7 telephone services

There is 24/7 help available on the following numbers:

Note: Farmers and business owners in bushfire-affected areas can access Farm Gate counsellors and peer support workers on the Mental Health Line, 1800 011 511.

Face-to-face services

You can access mental health support by contacting your local:

Free counselling

If you live in a bushfire-affected region, or were a first responder, emergency management employee or volunteer, you can access up to 10 free counselling sessions to support you through any immediate trauma or crisis. You can organise counselling sessions at:

Online services and resources

  • Beyond Blue: Mental health support available 24/7 via online chat or email. 
  • Black Dog Institute: A free online clinic providing a mental health assessment tool and other support services. 
  • Community Trauma Toolkit: Resources to help adults and children before, during, and after a disaster or traumatic event.
  • Headspace: Free and low cost mental health services for young people aged 12 to 25. 
  • Head to Health: This site can help you find digital mental health and wellbeing resources.
  • Kids Helpline Webchat Counselling: A free, private, confidential webchat counselling service for children and young people aged 5 to 25. Kids can chat from 8am to midnight, 7 days a week.
  • Rural Adversity Mental Health Program – Connects people living in regional, rural and remote NSW with local mental health services and resources.
  • Rural Resilience Program – helping build resilience by linking rural communities, families and individuals with the most appropriate services and information.  

Medicare rebates for treatment services

If you have been affected by bushfires, you can receive Medicare rebates for up to 10 face-to-face or telehealth mental health treatment services through eligible GPs, psychologists, occupational therapists and social workers.

You do not need a GP referral, diagnosed mental illness or mental health treatment plan to access these sessions.

Rebates are available from 17 January 2020 to 31 December 2021.

Telco support

Telcos are offering mobile phone charge waivers and other assistance. 

Mobile phone charge waivers

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone are providing unlimited access to emergency service websites for customers in bushfire-affected areas.

There will be no costs for bushfire-impacted customers accessing:

Optus

Optus customers who have been impacted by the bushfires can call 1300 301 671  for information on:

  • free call diversions from an Optus fixed home phone to any mobile or fixed number

  • extended timeframes for bill payments

  • bill waivers in instances of extreme financial hardship

  • free suspension, relocation or cancellation of an Optus fixed service

  • free prepaid recharges for eligible impacted customers.

Note: Optus is covering the costs of eligible volunteer firefighters’ mobile services for December 2019 and January 2020. If you’re an active volunteer firefighter with an Optus bill, call 1300 301 671 to see if you qualify.

Telstra

Telstra customers who've suffered severe damage or loss of their premises can call 132 203 for information on:

  • free call diversion from the customer’s Telstra fixed phone service for a maximum period of 6 months from the date of the fire
  • a one-off credit to the value of $500 including GST to the customer’s Telstra fixed phone account to help cover the costs of the following, if required:
    • connection of a Telstra fixed phone service at one temporary residence
    • re-connection of a Telstra fixed phone service at the customer’s original permanent premises.

In areas where customers are waiting for network damage to be repaired, or where they are still evacuated, the following short-term measures will be in place for a maximum period of 3 months:

  • free use of Telstra public payphones in the affected areas
  • free use of Telstra Air payphone hotspots in the affected areas
  • free call diversion from an affected fixed home or business phone service to another fixed or mobile service of the customer’s choice, regardless of the carrier
  • customers who use the free call diversion to divert their affected fixed home or business phone to their Telstra mobile service can also make local and STD® calls on their mobile at fixed-line rates, in accordance with their selected plan (limited to one designated Telstra mobile per affected household or business).
  • affected Telstra mobile customers who do not have a Telstra home phone can receive a one-off credit to the value of $100 inc. GST (limited to one mobile phone per Telstra mobile account).

Vodafone

Vodafone customers can apply for Vodafone’s hardship assistance and may be eligible for bill waivers, payment extensions and waived cancellation/late fees.

Call 1300 650 405 for help or more information.

Transport – refunds, fee waivers, concessions

Tolls

The $40 tag security deposit/s on an E-Toll tag will be waived if your tag has been lost, damaged or destroyed during the NSW bushfires.

Number plates

For number plates lost or destroyed as a result of the bushfires, customers must provide a completed Number Plate Form – PDF at a Service NSW Centre, in order to reapply for plates. If applicable, there will also be:

  • a waiver of the 6-month waiting period for the issue of replacement plates with the same content
  • a waiver of reissue, remake and hold fees
  • no necessity to provide a police Event Number if applying for a reissue or remake of number plates.

Motor vehicle stamp duty and fines

If your motor vehicle was written off in a declared natural disaster, the NSW government may be able to refund any motor vehicle duty you pay on a replacement vehicle.

Revenue NSW may also be able to:

  • give you more time to lodge any documents or returns
  • defer enforcing any fines against you
  • extend your payment deadlines
  • agree not to charge you interest
  • arrange for you to pay any debts in instalments.

More information can be found on the Revenue NSW website.

Registration and licences

Registration and licensing concessions and refunds will be offered to customers if their vehicle/vessel or other relevant documentation has been lost, damaged or destroyed during the NSW bushfires. 

For more information, see Replace lost documents.

Destroyed vessels

If your vessel has been destroyed in the bushfires you're entitled to a refund of any remaining funds on the vessel registration.

If you can, supply a copy of the insurance claim deeming the vessel a total loss, or a statutory declaration with details of the circumstances. If you're not able to supply either of these documents:

  1. Complete the Request for Refund (Maritime) – PDF.
  2. In the space under 'Other Maritime Refunds':
    • clearly state that the vessel was destroyed by the bushfires, and
    • include the address where the vessel was destroyed, if it is not your normal address.
  3. Attach a photo of the destroyed vessel (if possible).
  4. Email or mail your request to the details on the form.

Rebuilding

If you're planning to rebuild on land that is designated as bushfire prone you have a legal obligation to consider the potential of bushfire and meet the requirements of Planning for Bush Fire Protection (PBP) and AS3959.

The NSW Rural Fire Service provides guides on:

  • the planning and development process
  • building after bushfire:
    • your level of risk
    • development application and complying development
    • protection measures.