Salvation Army, Vinnies receive $50m injection to help bushfire victims


The help could also be used to offer food vouchers, an idea that is seen by some as a way to put money back into retailers in communities hit by fire.

Mr Morrison described the package as a way to stimulate local economies.

“For many people right now it’s the basics that count. We need to make sure everyone has food on the table and clothes on their backs,” he said in a statement.

“We are hoping this extra support will assist tens of thousands of people affected by bushfires to get through the coming days and weeks.”

The government is aiming to “direct” charities to join forces with local employers so the money helps the local economy as well as those in need.

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Small business advocates are worried that large donations of food and clothing may weaken demand at local shops in regions hit by fire, making vouchers a better way to help.

Mr Morrison and Victorian premier Daniel Andrews have emphasised in recent days that Australians should donate cash rather than food and clothing.

The two main charities offering the new help are expected to start receiving $40 million in additional federal cash on Friday but can offer assistance to people under the program from today.

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said the financial counselling would cost a separate $10 million and would offer face-to-face help.

“Many of the affected Australians have never relied on government services so financial counsellors will be able to make sure people have all the information they need, particularly about the assistance for which they are eligible, so they can get back on their feet quickly,” she said.

The hotline telephone numbers for the assistance are:

  • Salvation Army Disasters Assistance team: 1300 662 217
  • St Vincent de Paul bushfire assistance: 13 18 12

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