As flood waters recede throughout Tropical North Queensland, thousands of people have been left to mop up the pieces. Financial counsellors and capability workers play a major role in supporting people to get back on their feet.
“Whether it be connecting them to government disaster assistance schemes, community emergency relief payments or banking emergency assistance programs, financial counsellors can help reduce financial stress,” said ICAN CEO Aaron Davis. “Once their initial financial first aid is administered, the big work begins, helping people with insurance claims and recovery from long-term financial loss.”
People don’t always need or want to see a financial counsellor and are happy to navigate disaster support services themselves. The financial counselling and capability teams at ICAN have put together a list of useful contacts to get people started.
Government Response – The Federal and Queensland Governments have activated support under jointly funded Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA). Communities announced at the time of writing this article include Mareeba, Tablelands, Yarrabah, Cairns, Cook, Cassowary Coast, Douglas, Hope Vale and Wujal Wujal Shires.
ICAN Financial Capability Manager, Nadine Frances, said, “Residents in these communities can apply for the Personal Hardship Assistance grants of $180 for individuals and up to $900 for a family of five or more to cover the costs of essentials like food, clothing, and medicine. Applicants will need a Medicare number, CRN or Drivers Licence number, DOB and address, Bank BSB, and Account numbers to receive the payment. If they apply for a grant with dependents, they will need the Medicare card of the dependant.”
The Personal Hardship Assistance scheme can be accessed here: Tropical Cyclone Jasper December 2023 | Community support | Queensland Government (www.qld.gov.au)
Personal Hardship Assistance Scheme:
- Emergency Hardship Assistance Grant – helps as a contribution to support people directly impacted by an eligible disaster to meet their immediate essential needs for food, clothing, medical supplies, or temporary accommodation.
- Essential Services Hardship Assistance – helps with people directly impacted by an eligible disaster to meet their immediate needs where they have experienced the loss of one or more essential services for more than five days.
- Essential Household Contents Grant – provides a contribution towards replacing or repairing essential household contents, such as beds, linen and whitegoods that have been lost or damaged by an eligible disaster.
- Structural Assistance Grant – provides a contribution towards repairs or replacement of a dwelling damaged by an eligible disaster, to return it to a safe, habitable, and secure condition.
Services Australia has additional support for people affected by Queensland Tropical Cyclone Jasper, which started in December 2023. You can find out about the Australian Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance and make an application here.
The Big 4 – At the time of writing this article CBA, NAB, and ANZ had announced disaster assistance measures for Far North Queensland Communities. Westpac has an existing disaster relief webpage here https://www.westpac.com.au/help/disaster-relief/
ICAN Operations Manager, Jillian Williams, highlighted some of the measures the banks have taken. “Banks will offer loan deferral periods or reduced repayment arrangements for home, personal, credit cards and some business loans,” said Jillian. “They may also waive fees for early access to term deposits. Taking these actions can provide a bit of breathing space when you most need it, so make sure you talk to them straight away.”
- Message CBA in the CommBank app, call their Emergency Assist line on 1800 314 695 or visit a branch when it is safe to do so.
- Business customers can also call 132 607 or speak with their dedicated CommBank relationship manager.
- For those in financial hardship – if you are a financial counsellor and would like to engage CBA about a specific customer, you can contact CBA’s Represented Customers team on 1300 993 258, 9am–6pm Monday to Friday (ADST) or customers can call the Financial Assistance Solutions team on 13 30 95 8am–9pm Monday to Friday (ADST) and 9am–2pm Saturday (ADST).
- Indigenous Customer Assistance Line (ICAL) Customers can contact 1800 700 682, Monday to Friday 9am-8pm (ADST) and Saturday 8am-2pm (ADST).
- Impacted customers are encouraged to visit Natural Disaster Relief and Support at https://www.nab.com.au/
- If a customer is unable to access the internet, over the phone assistance is available by calling:
- Individuals: 1300 308 132 Monday-Friday, 8:00am-7:00pm ADST.
- Businesses: 1300 769 650 Monday-Friday, 8:00am-5:00pm ADST.
- Please visit https://www.westpac.com.au/help/disaster-relief/
- Westpac customers who are suffering hardship as a result of disasters are encouraged to contact Westpac Assist on 1800 067 497 8:30am-7:30pm Monday to Friday ADST, 9:30am- 6:00pm on Saturday, or apply online for financial hardship assistance.
- Customers affected by the floods can contact ANZ’s dedicated financial hardship team on 1800 149 549 or at anz.com.au/support/natural-disaster-support/.
Neighbourhood Centres (Emergency Relief) – ICAN has reached out to neighbourhood centres in heavily affected areas, including Cooktown (servicing Wujal Wujal), Kuranda and Mossman to provide a combined $20,000 top-up of emergency relief funds. You can find a centre closest to you here https://ncq.org.au/find-a-centre/?location=Ravenswood%20QLD&radius=1200.
“ICAN encourages donations to these neighbourhood centres to help with community recovery,” said Aaron. “Just remember these services may be overwhelmed at the moment, if they are situated in impacted regions.”