This information is relevant to people affected by bushfires in Victoria. If you need information for another state, please contact your local emergency services.
Where do I get information about the fires?
The Victorian Government has declared a State of Disaster for six Local Government Areas and the Alpine Resorts. Up-to-date information is available at:
The Vic Emergency hotline – 1800 226 226 – provides information during and after major bushfire incidents. It also offers information to help householders, landowners and small businesses reduce bushfire risk. If you speak a language other than English you may contact 131 450 and ask them to call the hotline on your behalf. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a communication impairment, contact the National Relay Service on 1800 555 677 and ask them to call the Vic Emergency Hotline on your behalf.
The Victorian Bushfire Information Line – 1800 240 667 – is a free information line providing important bushfire-related information 365 days of the year.
Information in other languages
The Victorian Multicultural Commission has collated a range of Victorian Government translated materials to help people understand, prepare and stay safe during the fire season.
How have the bushfires affected aged-care services?
The federal Department of Health has published information for consumers and providers of aged-care services.
Before and during a bushfire
Will the smoke affect my health?
The Department of Health and Human Services Victoria has posted comprehensive information about the health effects of the bushfires. EPA Victoria has published information on what to do if it is smoky outside. You can check the current air quality in your area on EPA AirWatch. If you need medical advice for burns or exposure to smoke, see your doctor or call Nurse on Call on 1300 606 024.
What do I do if I am elderly, frail or have a disability?
All Victorians should be prepared and ready to act if bushfire threatens. But some people may need help to prepare their fire plan and to leave early. They could be a relative or a member of your community who may need help leaving early on a fire risk day.
If you live in a high-risk bushfire area, then on a Severe, Extreme or Code Red rated day your only safe option could be to leave early – especially if you’re frail or elderly, have a physical disability, or have problems thinking clearly or acting quickly under stress. More information is available on the CFA’s website.
People living with dementia
The Queensland University of Technology and the Red Cross have prepared a guide for carers of people living with dementia on how best to prepare for natural disasters.
People with disability
Every Australian Counts, the grassroots campaign for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), has produced Emergency information for NDIS participants and families affected by bushfires
The CFA has an Easy English guide on how to stay safe in a bushfire.
IDEAS Disability Information has an easy-to-follow guide to packing for an emergency.
Assistance after a fire
How do I tell my loved-ones that I am OK?
If you have left a bushfire area and want to tell people close to you that you are OK, you should register with the Red Cross at Register.Find.Reunite website. You can use Register.Find.Reunite to find someone if you have friends or family you are unable to locate. Use ‘Find’ to look for people you know may be affected by an emergency.
If you are unable to locate a family member or friend using RFR, you need to contact Victoria Police via 000 (emergency) or Assistance Line via 131 444 (non-life threatening).
What should I do if I lose power as a result of a bushfire or extreme weather event?
The Department of the Environment Land Water and Planning has information about what you should do if you lose power during an extreme weather event. Vulnerable members of the community should make sure they are registered with their energy distributor as a critical care customer and know what to do if the power goes out, including having a contingency plan in place. Also make sure the retailer has your up-to-date contact details.
How do I donate money to people affected by the bushfires?
The Victorian Government has partnered with Bendigo Bank and The Salvation Army to establish the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. 100% of donated funds will go directly to communities in need. Donations can be made online or at any Bendigo Bank branch. Many smaller charities and individuals are also collecting funds – GiveNow have compiled a list of verified causes.
Scammers are posing as fake charities and victims of the bushfires. Before you donate any money, check where your money is going to a verified person or charity. Find out more about bushfire scams and report any scams you see to Scamwatch. You can also report scams on their dedicated phone number, 1300 795 995.
Is there a central service that can guide me through the next steps after a fire?
Dedicated support workers are available to assist people and connect them to services, grants and advice. Contact a support worker through your local council, a recovery centre or by calling 1800 560 760.
Where do I get emotional support?
Bush fires that cause widespread loss and distress impact the whole community. People recovering from bush fires are encouraged to access mental health and counselling services including:
- Lifeline: 131 114 24-hour telephone counselling, information and referral service.
- BeyondBlue: 1300 224 636
Provides information on depression and anxiety. To access professional counselling services, please make contact with your GP and ask for a referral.
- Headspace: 1800 650 890
- ParentLine: 132 289
Counselling and information for families with children (up to 18 years) from 8am to midnight, 7 days a week.
- Men’s Line Australia: 1300 789 978 24–hour counselling and advice for men.
- Family Violence support: There is an increased risk of family violence after an emergency.
- Windermere: 1300 946 337
How do I replace documents lost in a fire?
If you have banknotes that have been damaged in the bushfires, you can submit a damaged banknote claim. The Reserve Bank (RBA) will determine the value of the damaged banknotes and reimburse you the assessed amount. The RBA’s website provides more complete information.
The Australian Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages will replace certificates that were lost in the recent bushfires, free of charge. Call the Department of Justice on 03 5215 8500 and they will mail the forms to you.
VicRoads can refund your remaining registration without any administration fees for any fire damaged vehicles or replace your licence/learner permit/marine licence for free.
If your passport has been lost or damaged in bushfires, you may be eligible for a free replacement. Call the Australian Passport Information Service on 131 232 for more information.
The ATO can help you find your lost tax file number (TFN) and re-issue or help re-construct lost or damaged tax records. Phone their emergency support line on 1800 806 218 or visit the ATO’s Dealing with Disaster page for further details.
Where do I get financial assistance?
The Financial and Consumer Rights Council, which represents financial counsellors in Victoria, provides comprehensive information about what to do if you are in financial stress due to the bushfires.
Financial counsellors are regulated by federal legislation and employed by not-for-profit community organisations to provide information, advice and advocacy support free of charge, assisting people in dealing with life situations involving debt and hardship, dealing with creditors and stabilising finances
You may seek free, independent and confidential financial advice and guidance from the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or search for a financial counsellor in your local area.
Your bank may offer disaster relief packages and other assistance if you’ve been affected by the bushfires. These can include temporary easements on loans or interest payments. For more information or to find the number for your bank’s hardship team, visit the Australian Banking Association.
How do I find out about insurance on my home?
If you have no papers or are not sure who you were insured with call the Insurance Council of Australia’s 24-hour hotline on 1800 734 621 or visit www.disasters.org.au. Both services assist with other bushfire related queries.
The Financial Rights Legal Centre has published a bushfire insurance guide.
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has dedicated support available for individual and small businesses and impacted bushfires including:
- understanding AFCA’s role
- making an insurance claim
- getting help for financial difficulty
- support for small businesses.
Where can I find legal help?
The Disaster Legal Help telephone line can offer free legal assistance. Call 1800 113 432 for free information. Up-to-date, general legal information relevant to disasters is available online at Disaster Legal Help.
Consumer Affairs Victoria
Consumer Affairs Victoria provides information and advice about your rights and obligations following an emergency, including on renting and rebuilding, and insurance. For more information call 1300 55 81 81.
AGL customers who have been impacted by bushfires and need help with their account should call 131 245 or visit their website. AGL is offering support and assistance for customers, firefighters and SES volunteers, employees and contractors.
EnergyAustralia is providing priority assistance to customers who have lost their homes or have been evacuated. Customers can also call 1800 120 084.
Origin is offering short and longer-term assistance to customers in bushfire and drought-affected areas.
Consumers who have not been able to resolve a complaint with their energy or water providers may call the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria on 1800 500 509.
South East Water is coordinating an emergency drinking water relief program on behalf of all Victorian water authorities. Eligible permanent residents initially in the declared bushfire affected areas of East Gippsland and some parts of the Wellington Shire will be provided a tank water flush and top-up of 5,000 litres. If you live in the area and want emergency assistance, call South East Water on 13 18 51 and press 9. Read More
Telstra is providing customers affected by bushfires immediate short-term help, as well as longer-term support. This includes:
- free call diversion to any mobile or fixed phone number
- one-off credit to the value of $100 (including GST) for Telstra mobile customers who do not have a Telstra home phone (limited to one mobile phone per Telstra mobile account).
- 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
To see if your suburb is eligible for support, visit this link. To register for support by phone call 13 22 03.
Optus has announced that bushfire affected customers can access Disaster Assistance Support. This means they can access:
- 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 a fixed service
- free prepaid credit which can be organised at your local store.
For more information call Optus’ dedicated hotline for volunteer firefighters and customers affected by the bushfires on 1300 301 671.
Vodafone has taken steps to ensure that customers in fire affected areas are not automatically disconnected if they fall behind on their bill payments.
Vodafone has a range of options available under their hardship policy for any customers who have been directly impacted by the fires. Those customers can apply for financial assistance by contacting Vodafone’s financial hardship team on 1300 650 405.
If you are with another provider, please check their website.
Consumers impacted by the bushfires can now receive dedicated assistance with their unresolved phone and internet issues. The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s Natural Disasters help line is at 8600 8308, or visit the Ombudsman’s website.