We are thinking of everyone affected by the Australian bushfires.
If you are having any difficulties with energy, water, telecommunications, banking or insurance, we suggest you contact your service provider as soon as you can.
The Thriving Communities Partnership has information about bushfire support offered by individual businesses, such as banks and energy companies. These service providers are well aware of the impact of the fires and should be ready to help you. If you’re not happy with their response or need further information, the ombudsmen services listed below can help.
There is a lot of other support available too – see the links and phone numbers below.
General consumer advice
Consumer Affairs Victoria has information for Victorians about renting after a disaster; insurance, banking and financial hardship; business recovery; damaged vehicles; flood-damaged products and a range of other topics.
Ombudsmen are free, independent services that help you resolve consumer problems and get the support you need. Here are their websites and phone numbers.
Energy and water
Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria – 1800 500 509
Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW – 1800 246 545
Energy and Water Ombudsman SA – 1800 665 565
Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman – the TIO’s dedicated natural disaster line is 1800 046 686
Banking and insurance
General financial and debt help
National Debt Helpline – this service provides free, confidential financial counselling and can be contacted on 1800 007 007.
Rural Financial Counselling Service – this service provides free, confidential financial counselling to farmers and some rural small businesses. To find a local service in your area, contact 1800 686 175 or follow the links from this website.
Payments and help to recover from major disasters
The Australian Government provides a range of payments for people affected by the bushfires. This website sets out the support available for people living in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.
Mental health support
Beyond Blue has online information about coping with the mental health effects of bushfires. Beyond Blue can also be contacted on 1300 22 4636, 24 hours/7 days a week.
Donations and scam alert
The ACCC has alerted people to scam bushfire appeals. To avoid scams, check the tips on the ACCC’s website, and report any scams on 1300 795 995.
If you’re in a position to make a donation, please consider the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Appeal, the Salvation Army Disaster Appeal, the Victorian Bushfire Appeal, the Wildlife Victoria Bushfire Appeal or the WIRES Emergency Fund.