National News


Red Cross volunteer Janet with Club Terrace resident Matt outside Bairnsdale relief centre. Photo: Australian Red Cross

Red Cross delivers for bushfire survivors – but the job’s not done yet

Nearly 6,000 bushfire survivors have received financial grants and more than 21,000 have been supported by a large-scale recovery program, thanks to the extraordinary donations received by Australian Red Cross. Releasing its Australian Bushfires Report: January-December 2020 today, Australian Red Cross said it has now disbursed or spent $207 million of the $240m donated to it, helping to provide direct support to tens of thousands of people affected by bushfires last year. To coincide with the report, Australian Red Cross is releasing a tribute written by author and historian Thomas Keneally AO in recognition of the humanity shown by Australians in the 2020 bushfire response and recovery. “People were helping others in danger. It is a change from what sometimes divides us – Australians stood together and supported each other, celebrating our shared humanity,” said Mr Keneally. A further round of financial assistance will begin in the coming weeks. Australian Red Cross is committed to continue its recovery program, supporting communities in 46 local government areas across four states. Noel Clement, Australian Red Cross Director Australian Programs, said while progress is being made, there is still more to be done. “Communities are recovering at their own pace,” said Mr Clement. “We want to thank everyone who generously donated. It has made a huge difference to people’s lives. “Community members have told us that this generosity helped them find somewhere safe to live, make urgent repairs to their homes or meet medical expenses. “The resilience shown by people has been remarkable, but we must remember many people are still traumatised and some are surviving day to day. We know many have been unable to even begin rebuilding their homes and are doing their best to cope with consecutive crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic.” Over the course of the past year: – 5,914 people received one or more grants – 21,563 received psychosocial support and other assistance through the recovery program – 49,718 people were supported by Red Cross during the fires in evacuation and relief centres, as part of the response to 37 fires across the country. The report also highlights the experiences of people and communities impacted by those bushfires and the work being done to help them get back on their feet. A further $33m will be spent on further financial support and long-term recovery work, including $18m for final grant payments, to meet unmet needs within bushfire-affected communities and essential support costs. Most will be spent in early 2021, and $15m will be used to continue the community recovery program. Find out more at