PVA: Bushfire Disaster Recovery Advice

The following is provided by President Louise Freebairn the Partners of Veterans Association of Australia NSW Branch Inc. to assist those who have suffered due to the bushfires. The list of phone numbers covers NSW areas.

PVA ‘s own support line on 1300 553 835 for its members and those in the veteran community.

Disaster Recovery Payment

The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment has been activated for people severely affected by the NSW Bush Fires. This provides a one-off payment of $1000 per adult and $400 per child if your home has been destroyed or severely damaged – including smoke damage.

Call 180 2266 to apply.

New South Wales Fires

November/ December 2019

People are encouraged to register online at Register Find Reunite.

The Disaster Welfare Assistance Line is currently open every day.

Disaster Welfare – they have grants available but they are a one off payment towards damage to your house/principal place of residence only.

1800 018 444—-8:30am – 4:30pm

Evacuation Centres OPEN 1 January 2020

Eurobodalla LGA

Hanging Rock Sports Club Function Centre, Hanging Rock Place, Batemans Bay NSW 2536 – open 8am to 8pm, until further notice

Moruya Basketball Stadium (within Moruya Showground), Albert Street, Moruya NSW 2537 – open from 8am on 31 December 2019, until further notice

Narooma Leisure Centre, 100 Bluewater Drive, Narooma NSW 2546 – open from 8am on 31 December 2019, until further notice

Bega Valley Shire LGA

Bega Showground, High Street, Bega NSW 2550 – open until further notice

Eden Fisherman’s Club – 217 Imlay Street Eden NSW 2551 -open until further notice 

Bermagui Surf Club – 1 Lamont Street, Bermagui NSW 2546 – open until further notice

Snowy Valleys LGA

Tumbarumba RSL Memorial Hall, Whitton Street, Tumbarumba NSW 2653 – open until further notice

Adelong Services and Citizens Club, 54 Tumut Street, Adelong NSW 2729 – open until further notice

City of Shoalhaven LGA

Ulladulla Civic Centre – 81B Princes Highway, Ulladulla NSW 2539 – open until further notice

Bomaderry Bowling Club – 154 Meroo Street, Bomaderry  NSW 2541 – open until further notice

St Georges Basin Country Club – 11 Paradise Beach Road, Sanctuary Point NSW  2540 – open until further notice

Goulburn – Mulwaree LGA

Goulburn Recreation Area – Veolia Arena, 45 Braidwood Road, Goulburn –  open from 8am to 8pm

Snowy Monaro LGA

Bomballa Community Centre – 163 Maybe Street, Bombala 2632 – open until further notice

Cooma Multi-Function Centre, corner of Cromwell Street and Boundary Street, Cooma NSW 2630 (near the Showground) – open until further notice

Lake Macquarie LGA

Avondale University, Central Road, Cooranbong – open until further notice

Disaster Welfare Assistance Points

Lithgow LGA -Lithgow (in conjunction with council recovery centre)- Lithgow Workies Club 3-7 Tank street, Lithgow. Open 2-3 January 2020, 9am to 5pm

The Disaster Welfare Assistance Points in Kempsey, Taree and Grafton have been transitioned to council on the 20 December.

Services and information will continue to be available through council.

Over the holiday period, assistance is still available via:

Housing: 1800 422 322 (24/7)

Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511

Animal and Agriculture Hotline: 1800 814 647

Disaster Welfare Assistance Line: 1800 018 444

Small Business Grants–Grants of up to $15,000 are available if your business has been directly affected by bush fire.Applications can be made to the Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/disaster-assistance/disaster-recovery-grants for eligibility criteria.

Primary Producer Grants -Grants of up to $15,000 are available for bush fire affected primary producers. Applications can be made to the Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/disaster-assistance/disaster-recovery-grants for eligibility criteria.

Local Government Areas this applies to: Armidale Regional, Ballina, Bellingen, Byron, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Glen Innes Severn, Inverell, Kempsey, Kyogle, Lismore, Mid-Coast, Nambucca, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Richmond Valley, Tenterfield, Tweed and Walcha.

Clean-up Assistance

If your property is insured, please contact your insurer about clean-up.

If you are uninsured and your home has been damaged or destroyed, Public Works Advisory will arrange for the clean-up of your residence and immediately adjacent outbuildings, including the removal of concrete slabs.

If you are uninsured, please contact Public Works Advisory on 1800 88 55 39 to discuss the clean-up of your property.

The Insurance Council of Australia can be contacted with any questions, complaints or concerns about insurance on 1800 734 621.

Safety –General advice

Please avoid areas where bushfires are occurring. Stay off the road; don’t travel unless you need to. Report unattended fires or suspicious activity immediately to Triple Zero (000) and follow the advice of authorities. Residents need to read all warnings in full to ensure they stay up-to-date with the latest information – this includes evacuation routes and evacuation centres. Areas closed off due to the bushfire emergency will reopen when it is safe to do so.

Bushfires can topple trees and power lines and leave debris strewn across the landscape, posing a significant health and safety risk. People returning home need to be mindful of hazards even after a bushfire has been extinguished.

Mental health

It’s completely normal to experience a range of emotions after a fire, including anxiety, forgetfulness, sleep disturbance and more. Having someone to listen to and support you through this is very important. Check in on your friends and neighbours, and if you or someone you know needs help, reach out.The following are free services available 24 hours a day, seven days a week:

Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511; Lifeline – 13 11 14 ; Mensline – 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800; Beyondblue – 1300 22 4636

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 000.

Free face-to-face support The following free services are available to people impacted by fires and drought. 

Hunter / New England – Healthwise 1800 931 540 

North Coast – Connect to Wellbeing 1300 160 339

Insurance

Are you insured? If you are insured talk to your insurance company as soon as possible about how to make a claim.

Take photos or video of damage to your property and possessions as evidence for your claim.

If you have clearance from your insurer and evidence for your claim, you can start cleaning up.The Insurance Council of Australia can be contacted with any questions, complaints or concerns about insurance on 1800 734 621.

Uninsured? If you are not insured and have limited income, you may be eligible for a disaster relief grant. Contact the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444.

Replacing personal documents

Service NSW can help replace many of your personal documents free of charge if they were damaged or destroyed. This includes birth certificates, marriage certificates, licences and number plates. For assistance please visit your nearest NSW Service centre, or call 13 77 88

Housing Assistance

In NSW, social housing providers can provide support and assistance to people who are affected as a direct result of natural disasters such as fires, floods and severe storms.

What types of service are available?

Social housing providers in NSW can assist affected people with access to products such as:

Temporary Accommodation – time limited accommodation for clients who are experiencing immediate homelessness

Emergency Temporary Accommodation – short-term temporary housing for up to 3 months for clients in urgent need of housing because of natural disaster [who would not normally be eligible for social housing]

Rentstart Bond loan – an interest-free loan to assist eligible clients pay a rental bond for a tenancy

Housing Assistance – a range of housing assistance products and services [including the above] that a person may be eligible for.

Where to go for help during business hours

During regular business hours 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday, visit any social housing provider.

A list of social housing providers can be found at ww.facs.nsw.gov.au/about/contact/housing

Where to get help after hours

The Department of Communities and Justice Housing Contact Centre (HCC) operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The HCC can assist people with

• Temporary accommodation

• General housing enquiries

• Applications for housing assistance

Important numbers

Link2Home – 1800 152 152—For temporary accommodation – this information and referral service is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

DCJ Housing Contact Centre 1800 422 322–Available 24/7, 365 days a year.

Animal Welfare

Local Land Services is assisting with emergency fodder, stock water and assessment of animals impacted by the fire.

The Animal & Welfare hotline (1800 814 647) will supply fodder and water for fire affected livestock.  They also can link you direct to other services.  Anyone can phone on the affected family’s behalf though you need to be able to provide a reliable contact number that they can call the person on. Landholders are encouraged to call the Agriculture and Animal Hotline to request assistance or report any stock losses.

Animal & Agriculture Hotline: 1800 814 647

Starting your clean-up

Houses, sheds and other buildings that have been burnt in a bush fire can leave potential health and safety hazards in the remaining rubble and ash.

Hazardous household materials that may be present after a bush fire include asbestos, ash from burnt treated timbers (i.e. copper chrome arsenate or CCA), medicines, garden or farm chemicals, other household chemicals and cleaning products, damaged gas bottles, metal and other residues from burnt household appliances as well as ash and dusts.

Other hazards may include unsafe building structures, electrical hazards or missing fencing panels around pools. When returning to your property after a bushfire, consider the following precautions to protect your health:

Please do not enter your property until you are advised that it is safe to do so.

Electrical hazards could exist such as live power lines that may be down or active solar panels.

Buildings and other structures may be unstable to enter or walk over.

Sewerage services may be disrupted causing health risks.

Be aware that hot, smouldering coals and other potentially hazardous materials may be hidden under the rubble.

Building rubble should not be buried as it may contain hazardous materials.

Don’t spread ash around your property, particularly if asbestos materials were used in your home or other structures, or CCA-treated timber was burnt.

Moisten the ash with water to minimise dust and keep damp but do not use high pressure water sprays.

Wear a P2 face mask and protective clothing.

Disaster Assistance- Bushfire Crisis

The impact of the bushfires is being felt across the nation, including by members of the veteran and defence communities. Health and safety is the priority during this time, and we encourage you to listen to the experts on how to be prepared.

The ABC, as the national broadcaster, provides up-to-date information on all alerts and warnings

Further information is also available on each of the state government websites.

Members of the veteran and defence communities can also access:

  • The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment – one-off financial assistance to eligible Australians adversely affected by the bushfires. For more information on eligibility, and how to claim, visit the Department of Human Services website or call 180 22 66.
  • Defence Service Homes Insurance – providing a range of home, contents, and other insurance. To lodge a claim or for assistance please contact 1300 552 662 or visit the Defence Service Homes Insurance website.
  • Open Arms counselling support (24/7) – veterans and their families requiring emergency counselling support can call 1800 011 046.
  • Crisis payments – a one-off payment to financially assist eligible people following a range of defined circumstances. For information about the crisis payments and eligibility please read Factsheet IS121 – Crisis Payments
  • Other assistance – DVA’s Veterans’ Access Network (VAN) can be contacted on 1800 555 254 to assist with a wide range of issues, including replacement of aids and appliances, ensuring availability of pharmaceuticals, and arranging transportation to medical appointments. 

If any other services or support you receive from the Department are being impacted by the fires, or if you need extra support in requesting these services, you can call 1800 555 254 for assistance.

Group programs for the veteran community

Open Arms group treatment programs focus on addressing mental health problems commonly experienced within the veteran community. These programs include:

  • Doing Anger Differently
  • Recovery from Trauma
  • Understanding Anxiety
  • Managing Pain
  • Sleeping Better
  • Beating the Blues.

Our educational workshops focus on suicide prevention or on skill-building to promote resilience. The suicide prevention workshops are for people wanting to learn how to recognise that someone is struggling and how to help them to get support. These workshops include

  • Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)
  • Suicide Alertness for Everybody (safeTALK)
  • Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)
  • ASIST Tune-Up.

The resilience and skill-building workshops are particularly useful for veterans and families during transition periods in their lives and include ‘Stepping Out’, parenting, stress management and mindfulness workshops, as well as half-day information sessions on chronic pain, anger, managing anxiety and recovering from trauma.

The Open Arms group program and workshop calendar is planned six months in advance and the most recent version can be found at www.openarms.gov.au/get-support. If there is enough interest in a specific area additional workshops can be organised.

If you want to talk to a counsellor, or find out more about our services, Open Arms’s free and confidential telephone line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 011 046.

DVA Client Satisfaction Survey 2019 Results

The Client Satisfaction Survey is a key tool for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to learn more about our clients’ experiences so we can improve the way we serve veterans and their families.

As part of DVA’s ongoing commitment to its transformation program, the Survey has moved to an annual activity, the most recent being in June and July 2019.

Results of the 2019 DVA Client Satisfaction Survey are presented in two key products:

Key Insights. The survey results show 84% of veterans are satisfied with DVA overall, a slight increase on 81% in 2018. While older veterans remain more positive about DVA’s service delivery compared to younger veterans, the satisfaction levels for veterans aged under 45 years has shown continuous improvement since 2016.

2019 Client Satisfaction Survey questions are also available:
2019 Survey Questions (PDF 400 KB)

2018 Client Satisfaction Survey Results

Scam Alert – NBN robocall scam threatens to disconnect households from the internet

A phone scam claiming to be from the National Broadband Network (NBN) is alive in Queensland and other States.

The ACCC is warning the community that scammers are pretending to be from NBN to con victims out of their money and personal information. The latest robo call includes an automated voice that tells you that the NBN is now in your area and you have 24 hours to connect to it or be disconnected from your present service by pressing 1 to talk to a technician.

NBN Co chief security officer Darren Kane said people needed to protect their personal information by being on guard, verifying who they were talking to and never disclosing bank accounts or other personal details to an unsolicited caller.

“It is important to be aware that NBN Co will never make unsolicited calls or door knock to sell broadband services,” he said.

Mr Kane said any scams should be reported to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission through its Scamwatch website.

People can protect themselves by following some tips:

  • If you’re ever in doubt about contact you’ve had from someone saying they’re from NBN trying to sell you an internet or phone service, hang up the phone and call your retail service provider to check if the person calling is a fraud.
  • You can only connect to the NBN network by purchasing a plan through a phone and internet service provider. Go to NBN’s website to check if your home or business address is able to connect to the NBN network and see which phone and internet providers are available in your area.
  • Never give your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.
  • Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer.

If you think you have provided bank account or credit card details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

Health News – When a thirst might be dangerous

In the heat of summer, it can take as little as 30 minutes to become dehydrated. But it’s not just the heat that can dry you out.

Air-conditioning or even just sitting in front of a fan for extended periods can do the job of dehydrating you just as quickly.

Dehydration can be subtle, but it can turn into a serious health concern. While there are many opinions on how much water you need to drink on average each day to stay properly hydrated, different hydration requirements among people will vary. However, making sure you drink at least a few glasses of water each day should help to stave off the effects of dehydration.

From minor symptoms such as having trouble concentrating, thirst and a dry mouth, to more serious concerns such as nausea, headaches, heat stroke and fever, dehydration affects people in different ways. Dehydration can become so bad that you can land in hospital.

So, how can you tell if you’re dehydrated? Here are nine signs to look out for:

  1. Increased thirst and a dry sticky mouth
  2. Tiredness, confusion and anger
  3. Dry eyes and blurred vision
  4.  Headaches, dizziness and disorientation
  5. Cramping
  6. Not sweating
  7.  Dark-coloured urine
  8. Fever
  9. Dry skin

READ MORE

Tips:
Plain water is good for you, but experts recommend a combination of water, electrolytes and sodium to stay properly hydrated.

If you’re in the sun for too long, or exercise a little too strenuously, it’s important to know that you can still overheat, no matter how much water you drink.

Scamwatch Radar Alert – Warning about ’emergency’ text messages

Scamwatch is warning members of the public about a spate of text messages asking for emergency assistance. These messages are coming from phone numbers not in your mobile contacts. For example, the text message might read, ‘Please call me back right away. It is an Emergency I need your help!’

People who have called the number back report being verbally abused by a recording on the other end. This is a new and emerging issue. While people have not yet reported losing money as a result of these calls, you may find the content of the recording distressing. Scamwatch therefore advises that you exercise caution or do not respond to these text messages.

Scam Watch – Radar Alert – Warning about tax scams

Tax scams seem to be everywhere at the moment and Scamwatch is warning people not to engage with phone calls or emails they receive threatening arrest or jail over unpaid tax debts.

Reports of these scams have jumped significantly during the past month. The scam is timed to coincide with the cut-off date for people needing to have their tax returns submitted to the Australian Tax Office.

Most of these scams occur over the phone. People get a call from an aggressive scammer directly or receive a robotic-sounding voice message informing them they need to contact a phone number in relation to an outstanding tax debt, or face imminent arrest and jail time.

The scammer pretends to be from the Australian Tax Office or the police to scare people into believing the contact is real. They will tell people to buy gift cards like iTunes or Google Play to ‘pay’ the tax debt or a fine. They may also get people to send money by other methods like Bitcoin ATMs or pre-paid credit cards.

This is a scam. The tax office will never threaten you with arrest, or demand immediate payment of a tax debt or fine with unusual payment methods like gift cards or Bitcoin.

If you ever get a call or email claiming you will be arrested due to a tax debt, simply hang up the phone or delete the email. Do not call the number provided in the phone message or email you receive.

If you’re concerned the contact may be legitimate, you can also call the ATO on 1800 008 540 to check its veracity.

You can also report the scam at www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam.

Advice – Changes to the income and assets test and payments

Part of making retirement affordable is fully understanding your entitlements and keeping up to date with rule changes. Here are the latest government updates to help you stay on track.

Income and assets tests
From 2 July, the maximum income amount before the full Age Pension is affected is $172 per fortnight for singles and $304 combined per fortnight for couples The new thresholds are $1987.20 and $3040.40 respectively. The new asset limits are $561,250 for single home-owners and $844,000 for couples (combined). For non home-owners, the limits are $768,250 and $1,051,000 (combined).

Widow Allowance no longer available
From 1 July 2018, the Widow Allowance was no longer available to new applicants. Those who would previously have claimed the allowance can now make a claim for either the Newstart Allowance, Age Pension or Special Benefit (if you’re over Age Pension age but don’t meet residence rules for the Age Pension).

Recipients of the current Widow Allowance can keep the payment until 2022 or until they transfer to the pension (whichever is sooner), as long as they retain their eligibility.

End to backdated payments 
Claims for certain payments and concession cards will need to be completed in full before they are assessed, with the cessation of ‘intent to claim’ arrangement to enable backdated payments from 1 July 2018.

You will have 14 days to complete your claim if you contact Centrelink, start an online claim or submit an intent to claim before 30 June 2018.

Payment of Carer Supplement 
Those eligible for the Carers Supplement will receive a payment of $600 for each eligible person in their care. If you care for a disabled child, you will receive the Child Disability Assistance Payment of up to $1000 for each eligible child. These payments will be made between 1 July and 31 July 2018.

Changes to grandparent payments
From 2 July, grandparents who care for their grandchildren will face changes to the payments they receive, with the Grandparent Child Care Benefit (GCCB) being replaced by the Additional Child Care Subsidy (Grandparent) (ACCS) from 2 July 2018.

If you are already receiving the GCCB, you will receive a letter from the Department of Human Services advising you of the changes. If you wish to claim the ACCS (G), you will need to complete a child-care subsidy assessment via your online Centrelink account.

Downsizing super rule starts
On 1 July 2018, the much-vaunted ‘downsizing’ super rules commences. This allows retirees to make a non-concessional contribution of up to $300,000 (singles) or $600,000 (couples) into super from the proceeds of selling their primary place of residence, if they have lived there for 10 years or more. This contribution applies even if the super balance exceeds the current $1.6 million cap.

There could be a financial downside for those who take advantage of the program, with changes to exempt asset values possibly affecting your Age Pension.

More super changes take place
As well as the downsizing rules, other changes to super rules took effect on 1 July. These were:

  • the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal was replaced by the industry-funded Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)
  • individuals whose annual income exceeds $263,157 and have multiple employers are able to nominate that wages from certain employers are not subject to the superannuation guarantee
  • rules for tax deductions on personal contributions tightened
  • catch-up super contributions can be made by individuals with a total superannuation balance of less than $500,000.

This article by Janelle Ward is published in the digital Your Life Choices – Simplifying retirement

 

 

 

 

I recommend you subscribe to it. Ted Chitham

Well-Being: Age/Service Pension update: 1 July 2018 changes

This article from YourLifeChoices reveals the indexation of income and asset thresholds that will apply from 1 July 2018.

For age/service  pensioners, this means that those who have narrowly missed out on a full or part Age/Service Pension due to income earned or assets held, may now qualify for a payment or have their payment increased.

In what could further boost your rate of Age/Service Pension paid, deeming thresholds have also been indexed.

So grab yourself a cuppa and find out if your payment will change.