Residents, farmers and communities impacted by horrific fires across the region are able to access disaster assistance following a speedy natural disaster declaration by the State and Commonwealth Governments over the weekend.
Assistance is now available for those communities in the Armidale, Clarence Valley, Glen Innes, Inverell, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha Local Government Areas (LGA) affected by bushfires since August 31.
Member for New England Barnaby Joyce was in Tenterfield on Saturday.
"I've been on the fire ground where I listened to emergency services, evacuees, residents and Tenterfield Mayor Peter Petty," he said.
"I then conveyed their concerns to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Minister David Littleproud, and I applaud their quick response to our request for assistance to the community affected by bushfires."
Member for Northern Tablelands and NSW Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said the declaration came through on Saturday afternoon, and was made very quickly.
"We're just trying to get word out now that there is a range of assistance available," he said.
"By making a disaster declaration over multiple LGAs they made sure it covered a big enough area so that if the fires get more serious then they don't have to go through another process to declare additional areas.
"You have to remember, even though an area is disaster declared, to access the assistance an individual has to be actually impacted by fires."
Mr Marshall said assistance would also cover those who will be impacted in coming days, as the fires continue to burn.
"With the huge westerly winds that are still going, it is pushing the fire front to the east," he said.
"So the fire fighters there are doing a terrific job, but they're in a similar situation to the Tingha fires when they were at their height, where they're just in property protection mode.
"They're not even in a position yet, with the huge winds, to get on top of the fire front. They're simply trying to get in front of the fire and establish perimeters around dwellings and other key infrastructure."
Mr Marshall said much of the escarpment country was simply inaccessible to the RFS.
Assistance is being provided through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA), and available measures include:
- help for eligible people whose homes or belongings have been damaged
- support for affected local councils to help with the costs of cleaning up and restoring damaged essential public assets
- concessional interest rate loans for small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations
- freight subsidies for primary producers
- grants to eligible non-profit organisations
- Emergency fodder and/or water for stock
To access emergency fodder and/or water for stock, contact Local Land Services on 1800 814 647 to arrange pick up.
For information on personal hardship and distress assistance, contact the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444.
To apply for a concessional loan, grant or freight subsidy, contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit here