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Bushfire Recovery Centre

 

The Salvation Army Bushfire Recovery Centre has been helping people through the recovery process since the October 2013 bushfires. This page outlines some of our work, particular around grants. We also acknowledge the support of other expressions of The Salvation Army including: Salvos Stores, particularly Springwood Salvo Store, Salvos Counselling, MoneyCare, Family Tracing Service, Mature Workers Program, Courts and Prisons Services, Salvos Legal, Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Services, the Collaroy Centre and their respite programs, Salvation Army Emergency Services, and Springwood Corps.

 

Phase 1 

In the first 5 months after the bushfires in October 2013, The Salvation Army provided substantial assistance to communities that were fire affected. This assistance was very broad, with financial help going to those with total loss of home, significant damage, partial damage, outbuilding damage, landscape loss or affected businesses. A total number of 555 households came to us for support. At that time we were operating out of the Recovery Centre in the Presbyterian Church, and our Relief and Recovery Centre in the Baptist Church, Springwood and our hall in Francis Road, Faulconbridge. We are very thankful to the Baptist Church for letting us use their premises, and for their wonderful volunteers who worked so hard alongside our volunteers. What a blessing they have been!

Apart from financial assistance provided in the Phase 1 support, we were also able to provide items such as:

  • New clothing
  • New underwear
  • New socks
  • New shoes
  • Blundstone and Steel Blue workboots
  • Work clothes
  • Accessories
  • Make up
  • Jewellery
  • Toiletries
  • Personal hygiene products
  • Food
  • Water
  • Drinks
  • Baby clothes
  • Baby items
  • Nappies
  • Bed Linen
  • New pillows
  • Towels
  • Kitchenware
  • Dining ware
  • Household items
  • Games
  • Books
  • Toys
  • Sporting goods
  • Hand Bags
  • Suitcases
  • Sleeping bags
  • Bikes
  • Cleaning products
  • Yard tools
  • New mattresses
  • Salvos Stores vouchers
  • Movie tickets
  • Coffee Club vouchers
  • IGA vouchers
  • Woolworths vouchers
  • Coles vouchers
  • Kmart vouchers
  • Concert tickets
  • Furniture
  • Pet supplies
  • Mobile phones
  • Computers
  • Printers
  • Home office supplies
  • Stationery
  • Fridges
  • Medical equipment

 

 

Phase 1 Closed

Then we moved into an office space in Raymond Road, Springwood. This physical move coincided with the transition to the next phase of recovery support. We no longer provided broad general Phase 1 support to the community, but are focused on providing direct support to those who have experienced total loss of home in the bushfires. This is in the form of Phase 2 Grants.

 

Introduction of Phase 2

This round of support involves significant grants and is only available for those who have confirmed total loss of home from the bushfires in October 2013. Home owners and renters can apply.

 

Phase 2 Grants

The two main grants are Rebuild and Set Up. You can apply for either one of these, not both. You can also apply for as many of the remaining four grants as suits your situation.

 

Rebuild

This grant is available for those who owned the home that was lost in the bushfire, and are going to rebuild. You will need to provide some information as to where you are up to in the rebuilding phase. This could be any documentation from the Council regarding plan approval, invoices from your builder, building contract, etc.

 

Set Up

This grant is available for those who were renting the home that was lost in the bushfire, or those who have decided they are not going to rebuild and are going to rent or purchase another property or alternative instead. You will need to provide some information as to where you are in that process, such as proof of your new residential address. If you were renting the home, you will need to provide a letter from the real estate agent or landlord to confirm you were currently leasing that property when it was destroyed. You can also include a leasing agreement from your current rental property. If you were the owner of the property, and are not going to rebuild, you can provide a copy of the contract of the new property purchased, a letter from the real estate agent or conveyancer regarding exchange of contract, or a bill or invoice address to you at the new address.

 

Kids Camps

This grant is available for children up to the age of 18 who would like to participate in a non-school camp, intensive, workshop, event, etc. This could include sports camps, creative arts camps, church camps or holiday camps.

 

Training

This grant is available for those who have decided to go back into the workforce as a result of the bushfire. This grant is applicable if you need to update certificates or skills to get back into the workforce, or if you would like to train for a different role where you know there is employment, so that you can get a job that will help with the costs or rebuilding/relocating. This grant is also available for those who have obtained an Owner Builders Certificate to rebuild their home.

 

Respite

This grant is available for those who haven’t had a break away from the area since the fires in October 2013. It is also available for grandparents raising grandkids, or those who are caring for an elderly relative at home, or those with young children with special needs.

 

Counselling

This grant is available to anyone who would like to access counselling services, either individually or as a couple or family. This grant can be used for all types of counselling including trauma, drug, alcohol, gambling, financial, marriage or relationship counselling. Every household can apply for this grant. You can apply for this grant if you are currently receiving counselling under a Mental Health Plan through your doctor and you would like to continue, you can apply if you are currently seeing a counsellor through a referral from The Salvation Army and you would like to continue, you can apply if you are seeing a counsellor that you have engaged yourself and you would like to continue, and you can apply for this grant is you have not had any counselling so far.

 

Closing Date for Phase 2

There was no closing date for Phase 2. Trauma affects decision making capability, and for some people it can take a while before major decisions are able to be made. We would rather people feel they have time and support to make the decision that is right for them, rather than feel rushed or pressured into having to think about something they are not ready to think about because they are worried they will miss out.

 

Summer 2014: Leisure Grant

The summer following the first anniversary was a critical time in our community. Exhaustion levels were high, it was peak trigger season, there was a big push to get houses finished by Christmas or the end of the year, and we could see that relationships and personal energy levels were under strain. We made a decision to introduce a Leisure Grant, which created a few laughs at first (leisure??? what's that???), however we quickly saw that, apart from the Phase 2 Grants, this grant created the most positive community outcomes of any other single grant.
 
 
"Last year Christmas was a difficult time for most people who were affected by the bushfires in 2013, but this year may be different. This Christmas season most people will be in a more positive space to think about the usual family traditions that happen over the summer holidays. The Leisure Grant will help re-establish some of these traditions, or create new ones. We believe giving someone the opportunity to make some positive, relaxing memories over summer would help meet the needs of long term recovery. We understand that money cannot buy leisure time, however it can help provide a space where leisure can happen.
 
Making time for leisure and relaxation is very important in the recovery process. If you saw Dr Rob Gordon at the Springwood Sports Club in early October this year when he came to speak to the community leading up to the first anniversary, you would have heard him talk about prioritising leisure. He gives a similar presentation on the Still Standing DVD produced by The Salvation Army under the topic heading of “Recovery”
 
This year you might be considering a new Christmas tree or Christmas lights, or an outdoor setting for when all the family come over on Boxing Day, or a BBQ for New Years Day, or a picnic set for Australia Day. These are examples of items that could be acquired with the Leisure Grant to create leisure time during summer holidays, for enjoyment and creating fun memories, for relaxation and time together."
 
The grant was available to those with total loss and substantial damage, and a smaller grant was available to those with partial loss.
 
 
 
 

Second Anniversary 2015: Restoration Grant

By the second anniversary the mental exhaustion was taking it's toll. Bushfire brain was very common. We were starting to see an increase in people seeking counselling, which was a good thing as talking to a cousellor is an excellent decision to make.
 
Once the goal of completing or purchasing the new house was done, then reality sometimes started to sink in. And life moves on in other circles, and sometimes other things happen with health, relationships, work, children, friends or families and it can feel like nothing is going right. The court case brought a high level of anxiety and mixed feelings into the community. In the beginning, everyone was in a similar "boat", but by the second anniversary there were people in all stages of the recovery process. In all of this exhausting process, good stories were starting to come about, too.
 
"One of the best things you can do for yourself in this journey is to take some time out and do nothing. Just relax. Spend time doing something you enjoy, that gives you joy in your soul. Spend time with the people you love and care for. Take time to be kind to yourself. Yes, there are a thousand other things that need your attention in the craziness of getting your life back in order, and they will be taking all of your brain power to deal with them, but this time out is more important than most of those things.
 
As you think about what you will be doing on the anniversary, we would like to offer you this grant to help you restore your energy levels. You can use this grant for whatever you need to do to help your gain some restoration. You might like to take a trip away, and not be here on the mountains for the anniversary. You might like to travel to see family, or travel with family. You might like to have a street party. You might like to create a garden or a space for you to enjoy some time out in."
 
This grant was avilable for those who experience total loss of home.
 
 
 

Phase 3: Ongoing Support

Three grants were offered in this Phase with the aim of meeting the most need as possible in the community, especially now that everyone had moved out in very different directions and paces in their recovery. People could apply for one of the grants in this Phase.
 

Preparedness

This grant is available to those who owned and lived in the property that was a total loss, and have not been able to or chosen not to rebuild, and who received the Set Up Grant in Phase 2. In general, those that chose to buy another property used all funds from both house and contents insurance to secure a home, and that has left no funds to better prepare the house for another bushfire or disaster in that area. The grant is to be used to assess the property and surrounding area for risks and to equip the property and residents with a better level of preparedness. Some examples of how this grant could be used are:
 
• purchasing suitable hoses and fittings, buckets, metal rakes and hoes
• purchasing personal fire protection like respirators, goggles, helmets, fire resistant clothing
• installation of a water tank, sprinkler system, fire shutters or gutter guard
• upgrading windows or fly screens
• building in under a house
• sealing gaps around the house and roof
• removing vegetation to establish a 10/50 fire break
• paying someone to clean the gutters or do required maintenance around the yard
• or other preparedness work necessary to suit the location of the house (eg, flood mitigation, wind protection)

Rental Assistance

This grant is available for those who owned and lived in a house that was a total loss, and have started or are planning to rebuild but are still waiting for the construction of their new home to be completed, and are no longer receiving rental payments from an insurance company. This grant is for rent already paid, not for predicted rent in the future. The grant would cover 12 weeks of rent.
 

Landscaping for Occupancy

This grant is available for those who owned and lived in a house that was a total loss, and who have been able to move into their rebuilt home since 1 January 2015. Traditionally, Certificates of Occupancy are issued when landscaping is complete, which has caused considerable anxiety as it was thought by many that you would be able to work on the landscaping once in the house.
 
A grant for landscaping would be able to provide approximately 200m2 of lawn, which would help to cover the erosion and sediment control, and streetscape requirements by Council, and provide much needed greening of burned out and building site areas. It could also be used for other landscaping works.
 
 

Closing Date for the Bushfire Recovery Centre

The proposed closing date for the centre will be at the end of December 2016. This will be 3 years, 10 weeks and 5 days since the bushfires. There will be a thanksgiving service at the closure of the office. Details will be made available closer to the event.

 

The Salvation Army Bushfire Recovery Centre

15-23 Francis Road

Faulconbridge NSW 2776

Phone: 4751 7964

Mobile: 0407 567 826

 

Opening Hours:

Wednesday:         8:30am - 4pm

Friday:                8:30am - 5pm

 Appointments as always be made out of these hours, if needed.

  

 

 

Additional Services offered by The Salvation Army

 

Welfare

For regular welfare assistance with food vouchers and help with bills, please call Penrith Community Welfare Centre on (02) 4721 2725. They are open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am – 12 noon at 306 High Street, Penrith. You can also call the Katoomba Community Welfare Centre on (02) 4782 9251.

 

Salvos Counselling

Personal, relationship and family counselling in Penrith. Please call (02) 4731 1554

 

Employment Plus

Employment services at Mt Druitt. Please call (02) 8886 2200

 

Joblink

Part of our employment services, they also offer a Mature Workers program. Please call (02) 9625 8533, or (02) 9832 2399 for the Mature Workers program. The office is at 6 Colyton Road, Minchinbury.

 

Moneycare

Our financial counselling service. This is a free and confidential service that can help relieve your stress, help resolve immediate financial problems, help you plan for the future and provide options to help your situation. They do not lend money of provide material aid. Please call Moneycare Penrith on (02) 4732 4571 or Moneycare Blue Mountains on 0447 682 715.

 

Family Tracing Service

Search and reconciliation service for close relatives who have lost contact. Please call (02) 9211 0277.