Helping our community to rebuild after the 2019/20 Bushfires
Lithgow Council and the NSW Government are committed to supporting residents and the community, following the devastating 2019/20 bushfires.
The Bushfire Recovery Team is taking the opportunity to check in and hear from people whose residence or business was damaged or destroyed in the fires.
Council, in partnership with Service NSW and Resilience NSW, are emailing residents and business owners to answer a few short questions about their experiences since the bushfires.
Council will use the results of this survey, as well as other research, to help better understand your needs and identify how we can help you and your community. It also allows us to keep you informed about available assistance and refer you to services that could help you.
“A lot has already been achieved, but there’s still a long way to go with recovery. Given the size and complexity of the response, everyone involved is mindful of ensuring that remaining needs don’t fall through the cracks,” Council’s Community Recovery Officer Rachel Nicoll said.
Keep an eye on your inbox for a survey or expect a phone call from Council or a representative of the Australian Red Cross.
If your home or property was damaged or destroyed and you think we may not have up-to-date contact details for you, please email Recovery@Lithgow.nsw.gov.au or call 6354 9960.
Community Recovery Officer to Support Residents Impacted by the 2019 Bushfires
Lithgow City Council is pleased to welcome Rachel Nicol as Council’s new Community Recovery Officer to support residents impacted by the 2019 bushfires.
Announced in May 2020, this new 12 month role is funded by the Commonwealth and State Governments and will assist members of our community who were impacted by the bushfires and ensure that they continue to receive the help and support they need to rebuild and get back on their feet again.
In the months since the disaster, we have been in touch with many of those in the community whose residence or property was damaged or destroyed in the fires through: Recovery centres, assistance points, community meetings and through our mobile outreach activities. Rachel, along with representatives from state government agencies, health care, and charitable organisations will be at the Lithgow Library on Thursday 20th and Thursday 27th August between 3:00pm and 5:00pm to listen and advise on available options to assist with bushfire recovery.
Since the bushfires Council has been actively involved in coordinating the recovery effort mainly funded under Commonwealth Disaster Recovery Funding.
Recovery activities have included:
- Coordinated works to make properties safe, particularly the removal of dangerous trees on private property.
- Cleared and cleaned up destroyed Council assets, including the Petra Avenue Playgroup facility at Clarence.
- Coordinated the installation of portable toilets (to replace burnt out toilets) at the Zig Zag Railway / Newnes Junction site.
- Purchased mapping software to identify bushfire impacted areas for future development.
- Undertaken stormwater clean-up works in the following bushfire impacted areas: Wolgan Valley, Vale of Clwydd (Lithgow), Farmers Creek (Lithgow), Glen Davis, Glen Alice, Clarence and Palmers Oakey. Clean up works include the clearing of roadside drainage, removal of debris from under bridges and rectification of damaged unsealed road assets.
- Developed a series of videos; “Welcome Back to Lithgow” focused on destination marketing activities for the Lithgow region to assist tourism operators to recover from the economic impacts of the bushfires
- Coordinated with Central West Entertainment & Events the successful “Lithgow Live ‘n’ Local” online concerts featuring local artists performing for small audiences at local venues during July.
Council will be continuing to work together with all relevant service providers and organisations to ensure members of our community have fair and equitable access to services which meet their needs and assists them in the recovery. We have partnered with Service NSW and Resilience NSW and in coming weeks, members of the community impacted by the Bushfires will be contacted and requested to participate in a short survey which will help us to
- Further understand their needs and identify how we can help them
- Keep them informed about assistance that is available and refer them to services that can help.
Connecting with impacted community members and hearing from them will help us provide support to our community.
Media Announcement from NSW Government – Further Support for Primary Producers and Small Businesses in Bushfire Communities
Primary producers impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires will benefit from expanded eligibility for the $75,000 recovery grant and timeframe changes announced today, with small businesses also given more time to request support.
Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said that the changes will increase grant eligibility for primary producers as well as increase the time they have to apply for assistance.
“We received feedback, we have listened and we have adjusted the approach. We are regularly talking with industry groups and the state governments to ensure our assistance is available to those most in need” Minister Littleproud said.
“These changes and the decision to extend the application timeframes to December 2020 recognises that some primary producers have experienced drought, bushfires and now COVID-19, and need more time to make a claim. We have also extended the timeframes for other small business bushfire recovery grants and loans.
“This decision also highlights the level of understanding by Federal and State agencies that the recovery journey is different for everyone and some may not be as progressed on their journey as others.”
NSW Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said the $75,000 Special Disaster Grant, which was scheduled to close at the end of the month, will now be available until December 15, 2020.
“This program has been critical in keeping farmers on the land and importantly stimulating local regional economies, which is why it’s important every eligible farmer makes the most it,” Mr Marshall said.
“2020 has been a tough year for our farmers, but extending this program is just one thing we can do to take the pressure off and make their lives that little bit easier.”
“This grant has been incredibly successful, with more than 1,500 farmers across the State receiving close to $100 million to help cover the costs of repairing and rebuilding infrastructure on their properties.”
The primary producers grant provides support to farmers and other primary production businesses in fire affected areas with the costs of such services as safety inspections, veterinary fees, waste disposal, and purchases or repairs to property or equipment damaged in the fires.
Key eligibility changes include:
- Removal of the off-farm income threshold where an applicant’s income from primary production is less than 50 per cent of their total income.
- Allowing extra time for applicants to reach the 50 per cent income threshold in recognition of long lead times required by some sectors to reach full production.
- Applicants are no longer required to be registered for GST but must still hold an ABN.
- Businesses earning more than 50 per cent of their income from a combination of primary production and goods made directly from that produce will now be eligible for assistance.
These changes will come into effect shortly. Applicants who were previously unsuccessful and may now be eligible will not need to reapply - agencies administering the grants will contact these applicants.
Applications for small business assistance in the form of $10,000 and $50,000 grants and concessional loans of up to $500,000 can now also be made up to 15 December 2020.
Primary producers and small business operators in fire affected areas that have not been in touch with support agencies are encouraged to not self-assess and to speak to a support officer.
Further details are available at: https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/
Additional note: The Rural Assistance Authority will be reviewing all refused grants and making contact with those who they identify may now be eligible under the revised guidelines. However anyone that was refused and thinks they may be eligible can contact Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593.
Lithgow Bushfire Recovery Service Drop-In Centre to recommence in July
Council is pleased to announce that we will be recommencing the Bushfire Mobile Recovery Service Drop-In Centre at the Lithgow Library on Thursday 2 July at 3pm.
Residents of the Lithgow Local Government Area who have been impacted by the 2019 bushfires are encouraged to visit the Lithgow Bushfire Recovery Service at the Library. You will be able to obtain the latest information, enquire about assistance and ask questions about bushfire recovery.
This “one-stop-shop” service will be held at the Lithgow Library, 157 Main Street, Lithgow every Thursday commencing from 2 July between 3 – 5pm.
Representatives from State Government agencies, health care, and charitable organisations will be there to listen and advise on available options to assist with bushfire recovery. Council’s Customer Service staff will also be available to assist with enquiries. The service is provided for one-on-one enquiries about bushfire recovery.
If you need bushfire recovery assistance and cannot attend the “Drop-in Centre”, please call Service NSW customer care on 13 77 88.
Media Announcement from NSW Government – $140 million program opens for bushfire impacted forestry, horticulture and agriculture industries.
Bushfire-impacted dairy farmers, fruit growers and forestry businesses are set to benefit from recovery funding to help them get back on their feet and back to work, thanks to the NSW Government’s $140 million Bushfire Industry Recovery Package.
Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro said targeted grants would be available to help the forestry, horticulture, apiculture, aquaculture, viticulture and dairy industries retain and create jobs and support them to rebuild, recover and regrow.
“Funding will be available in two streams, with an initial focus on supply chain support grants that will help cover the cost of resuming and maintaining production,” Mr Barilaro said.
Supply chain support grants are available for activities such as:
- Clean up of damaged orchard equipment or replacing trees, trellises and netting;
- Repair of vineyards directly damaged by bushfire, including site clean-up;
- Beekeepers purchasing pollen, pollen subsitutes or sugar to feed their hives;
- Purchasing oyster spat to replace oysters killed due to ash or fireground run-off;
- Re-establishing dairy pastures, herd rebuilding and buying or replacing lost fodder;
- Haulage and storage of burnt forestry timber.
“The second funding stream for sector development grants would support projects that helped affected industries create new jobs, build industry sustainability, increase value-add production and support supply-chain efficiencies.
“One month ago we announced $140 million in funding for our most bushfire affected industries and since then we’ve worked with them directly to design the specific assistance needed to get businesses back on their feet and foster long-term recovery.
“We are providing grants to ensure these key driver industries can continue to generate jobs and economic growth for rural and regional NSW, because bushfire impacted towns that are now enduring COVID-19 cannot afford further job losses and economic downturn.
“We are also backing projects that will boost future industry resilience, things like adopting new manufacturing processes, technology upgrades, productivity improvements for cooperative facilities and industry wide marketing campaigns.”
Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said primary producers were still reeling from bushfires which decimated properties and farming enterprises right across NSW, sending shockwaves through the agricultural sector.
“By funding projects that focus on getting primary producers back up and running, we are turbocharging the recovery process, which is exactly what farmers need right now with many
still battling through drought as well,” Mr Marshall said.
“It’s going to be a long road to recovery, but the NSW Government will be there every step of the way to make sure our primary producers get the support they need.
“This package is in addition to the more than $80 million that has already been put back into farmers’ pockets through the Special Disaster Grant program, which gives bushfire-affected farmers access to a one-off payment of up to $75,000 to assist with recovery.”
Applications are now open. For more information, including how to apply, important deadlines, program guidelines and eligibility critiera, please visit www.nsw.gov.au/bushfire-industry-recovery-package
Land values for bushfire affected communities
To support communities affected by the recent summer bushfires, Lithgow City Council has accepted an offer from the Valuer-General to receive a new valuation list for 1 July 2020 land values.
Since 1 July 2019 land values were determined, many communities have been devastated by the summer bushfires.
The 1 July 2019 land values recently issued to councils were determined before the recent bushfires occurred. This means that the values do not reflect any impact of the fires. Many residents have suffered property damage, lost homes, businesses and farm buildings since the 1 July 2019 land values were determined.
Property sales evidencing the impact of the bushfires in the year to date are currently limited. The Valuer-General has commissioned a study of the impact of previous bushfires on land values in NSW which will form the basis for a 1 July 2020 revaluation.
Analysis indicates that there are three variables to be considered when determining the impact of bushfires on 1 July 2020 land values, being:
- the number of properties destroyed as a proportion of the total number of properties in the locality;
- the prevailing level of demand for vacant land in the locality before the bushfires; and
- the specific location of the subject property within the locality.
In the circumstances of the recent bushfires, the Valuer-General concluded that a reduction in the existing 1 July 2019 land values by up to 30% is appropriate depending on an assessment of the above three key variables in each locality.
It is important to note that changes in land value from the 1 July 2020 revaluation will be effective for the rating year commencing on 1 July 2021.
Bushfire Relief Funding for Winmalee Neighbourhood Centre
Winmalee Neighbourhood Centre’s Support with Dignity Program has been provided additional funding from the Federal Government for bushfire affected areas and is part of the Government’s $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund.
The Centre currently provides crisis support in the bushfire affected areas however this now allows a pool of dedicated funding to go directly to those whose homes were damaged or destroyed.
The centre is looking forward to be working with Lithgow City Council to ensure our services are available wherever you are located to receive this much needed assistance. Our experience in disaster recovery acknowledges that a range of assistance measures are required to support people affected by bushfires. These are aimed at providing support recovery with the provision of food, clothing, fuel vouchers and support to pay bills.
A range of relief and recovery assistance is available and each individual’s need/s will be taken into account. Although at this current time we have had to alter how we deliver our crisis support we still provide a non-judgmental, and confidential service that maintains the dignity of the individuals we assist.
To find out how we can assist you please phone: (02) 4754 4050
Media Announcements from NSW Government
Communities in bushfire-affected areas will have access to fee-free training courses to support the clean-up and recovery operation following the recent bushfires across NSW. The training will be delivered by TAFE NSW and other providers, and will include skills such as tree felling, rural fencing, asbestos awareness and forklift operations.
Council Bushfire Recovery Assistance
At the 13 January 2020 Extraordinary Meeting, Council resolved to implement a number of bushfire recovery assistance measures.
Council is now offering the following assistance measures for bushfire affected residents:
- Relief from domestic waste charges for properties where dwellings were fire damaged.
- A rebate for water usage charges during the bush fire crisis (upon application).
- The waiver of fees for Development Applications and associated charges for replacement dwellings if such costs are not covered by insurance or properties were not insured.
- Hardship rates relief to extend the due date for payment without incurring interest. Extended payment terms will be offered to bush fire affected residents, self-employed RFS volunteers and affected small businesses upon application.
Further information will be provided on each of the measures as administrative processes are developed, to ensure that residents can easily access all of the assistance measures.
The NSW Government's Emergency website provides general information about emergency management in NSW, including recovery information and what services may be offered and how they are provided.
Council services will be advertised on this page and other media as they arise.
Step by Step Recovery Support Services
Recovery from bushfires is a step by step process. It can help to have someone walk with you for part of the journey.
Step by Step workers can provide you with support:
- Accessing grants and payments
- Dealing with paperwork and applications
- Being linked with recovery services and assistance
- Dealing with insurance
- Getting emotional support
- Being kept informed about recovery assistance
- Having someone to talk with who understands
To speak with a Step by Step worker call: 0417 298 832
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday - Saturday 9am-6pm
Recovery support services
If you have been affected by bushfires, Recovery Support Services will help you in your recovery journey by providing personalised, long-term support.
Register to opt in to the NSW bushfire clean-up
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. To register or for further information click link below.
COVID-19 and recovery support for bushfire-impacted communities
The Office of Emergency Management have released a statement regarding COVID-19 and recovery support for bushfire-impacted communities
Bush Fire Recovery Guide
Council has developed a guide to all the services and support that is available to those affected by the recent bushfires.
Options Available for Ratepayers Affected by Bushfires
Lithgow City Council is able to provide residents who have been affected by the recent bushfire crisis with assistance for the remainder of the 2019/2020 financial period and further if required.
Repairs and Rebuilding after Bushfires
Council's building and Development team have developed this fact sheet for those who have had property affected by the bushfires.
Disaster Relief Grants
The Office of Emergency Management can provide disaster relief grants to eligible individuals and families whose homes and essential household contents have been damaged or destroyed by a disaster.
Download the Disaster Relief Grants Fact Sheet or contact the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444. The DWAL is open 8:30 till 4:30 Monday to Friday but with extended days during disasters, currently operating 7 days a week
Mental Health Assistance
Mental Health Assistance for people impacted by fires and drought:
Rural Adversity Mental Health Program – Local Coordinator
Sonia Cox - 0448 125 676
Free counselling and additional mental health support for individuals, families and emergency services workers affected by the bushfires.
Mental health support for bushfire affected communities
Support from NSW Land Registry Services
NSW Land Registry Services is offering landholders affected by the recent bushfires with access to the title searches and plan images of their property free of charge. Property searches and plans can assist landholders with insurance claims and development applications to council, as well as provide peace of mind regarding land ownership following natural disasters.
We invite affected landholders to call our Contact Centre on 1300 396 076 or (02) 8776 3575 and we can discuss how best to assist. Details of the support available are on our website
NSW LRS support for landholders affected by NSW bushfires