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Australia's bushfires

2nd Jan 2020

Bushfire smoke

3 January 2020

Like everyone else, the AASW is aware of the devastating bushfires raging around the country, including the recent fatalities. The fires are highly distressing to many people and will continue to have long term impacts. The AASW recognises and pays tribute to those combating fires and those individuals and groups on the front lines of disaster recovery, including social workers.

We also want to acknowledge the devastating loss of animal, bird and plant life.

The fires affect us all as a larger community and it is completely normal to experience a range of emotions, whether directly affected by the fires or not. Talking to someone and feeling connected can be incredibly important during times like these. We encourage all members of the community to reach out and look after themselves and each other.

There are a wide range of support services out there, including:

  • Lifeline - 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline - 1800 55 1800
  • Beyondblue - 1300 22 4636

You can also visit your GP to access Medicare funded mental health supports provided by Accredited Mental Health Social Workers or visit our Find a Social Worker webpage. 

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

Given the fires there is limited access to phones and electricity in some areas so if you need help, visit your local Disaster Assistance Point.

There is also a lot that family, friends, volunteers and community members are doing to help those affected.

If you wish to assist with the recovery effort, Volunteering Australia is taking registrations:

In the face of this national emergency, we need to look more broadly around the larger factors that are contributing to its existence. Climate change is real and the increase in extreme weather events will continue to have devastating consequences. We need real political leadership on the issue and immediate climate action to assure the safety of individuals, groups and communities. The AASW has and will continue to advocate for urgent policy action.

For further information, visit the NSW Rural Fire Service survival plan guide.

How to get help

If you or any of the people in your communities are affected by the bushfires, there are disaster recovery payments available, which you can access by calling 1802266. You can find out more information by going to

Centrelink payments available for people affected by the bushfires

Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment – a one-off lump sum payments for people affected by the bushfires from August 2019 through to January 2020.

Disaster Recovery Allowance – income support payment for up to 13 weeks for people who have lost income because of they were affected by the bushfires

For details about eligibility and payment rates, please go to: and click on your relevant state.

Original statement published 2 January, revised 8 January.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers