Following the catastrophic bushfires across New South Wales and Queensland this month, over 10 million hectares have been razed, three people have died, countless animals have been injured or displaced, and more than 2000 homes have been destroyed.
To put this into perspective, in NSW alone, almost 5 million hectares have been burned, which covers an area larger than the Netherlands.
In total, the area burned is almost the size of England, which is 13 million hectares.
Temperature records were smashed on Saturday when the mercury rose to 48.9 degrees Celsius in Penrith -- the hottest it's been in the Sydney Basin since 1939.
At the YBR Group, our passion for helping everyday Australians and giving back to the local communities is what drives us, so we've decided to band together and help our mates that are struggling with the economic, medical and agricultural effects of these bushfires. So, what are we doing?! Our aim is to raise money across our wonderful network for the NSW Rural Fire Service.
NSW RFS is a volunteer fire service that is committed to protecting rural Australian communities and providing training, community education and prevention. In the event of a catastrophe like this, the NSW RFS is the main source of rescue and evacuation support for our remote farmers and families.
The YBR Group has started a 'Go Fund Me' page and kicked off our campaign with a generous donation. Please follow this link, and let's see how much we can raise to help those need!
Lenders of YBR have also come together to support this tragedy that has devastated this country:
Macquarie's Support for its Bushfires Affected Customers
Our thoughts are with everyone affected by Australia's bushfire emergency, and the firefighters and emergency services personnel working tirelessly to protect our communities.
As valued partners, we want to share the ways we're supporting our clients who have been affected. With our ongoing focus on assisting clients in financial difficulty, we have long-held policies and practices in place to ensure we meet their immediate and ongoing needs.
We know every situation is different, so our teams are on hand to discuss a range of solutions which can be specifically tailored to meet our clients' needs. Those may include changes to repayment terms for home loans, credit cards and car loans, and/or waiving certain fees or restrictions that may apply to our products.
We've created messages on our website and online banking channels to encourage impacted clients to call us when they are ready, so we can discuss how we can support them. We want to make sure our clients have everything they need, so we've also shared links to external resources for additional assistance.
To ensure clients can connect with us easily, we've started reaching out to those in affected areas, encouraging them to call us if they need assistance. And we've suspended collections activity for clients in affected areas whose accounts are in arrears.
If you're aware of any clients who need assistance, please let us know.
Should you or your clients require further information on how Macquarie is providing support at this time, please click here.
Broker Bushfire Appeal
Several leading brokerages from across Australia - in tandem with aggregation groups and industry associations - have jointly launched a mortgage broker-backed fundraising campaign to help support those in need during the active bushfire emergencies.
The ongoing bushfire crisis across Australia - which has claimed the lives of at least 24 people, decimated wildlife and bushland, destroyed hundreds of properties and displaced thousands of people - heightened over the holiday period, with hundreds of fires still burning in several states and impacting air quality across the nation.
Given the ongoing challenges faced by thousands of Australians and resource restraints hampering the emergency and volunteer services, several players in the mortgage broking industry have joined forces to raise funds for affected communities.
The brokerages that have launched the initiative include:
NSW-based brokerages 1st Street Financial, Astute Sydney City Central, Foster Finance, Intelligent Finance, Mortgage Success, Shore Financial and the Sydney CBD Yellow Brick Road franchise;
Victoria-based Australian Lending & Investment Centre (ALIC) and Intuitive Finance;
and ACT brokerage Tiffen & Co.
Aggregation groups are also thought to be partnering with the Broker Bushfire Appeal, and the drive is being supported by the Finance Brokers Association of Australia (FBAA) and the Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia (MFAA).
It is hoped that more groups will support the appeal in due course.
The appeal aims to raise $100,000, but this target could be extended should there be widespread support.
Since launching on Monday (6 January), the appeal has raised around $8,000 and the partners are now calling on the whole industry - including brokers, BDMs, loan administrator, aggregators, broking groups and lenders - to donate to the appeal.
The call-to-action reads: "To the mortgage brokers of Australia, our country needs us... We are in a state of emergency. When the fires pass, communities need rebuilding. Now is the time to show our support. Please give what you can, as every dollar counts."
Speaking to The Adviser about the initiative, broker and 1st Street Financial managing director Jeremy Fisher commented: "Our industry has been so well supported over the years by everyday Australians taking out a home loan. So, in this time of need, it is our turn - as mortgage brokers - to give back and show our support.
"The goal is to raise $100,000, which will go towards helping support those in need today and then help rebuild communities once these terrible bushfires are all extinguished."
The managing director of the FBAA, Peter White, told The Adviser: "The FBAA sees this as an extremely important support to our country, and given the extreme devastation to peoples lives we have seen over the Christmas and New Year period, we all need to chip in and do our part to help our fellow countrymen.
"Personally, I am donating to this myself, as is my wife, and I have already financially supported people with emergency funding needs already, so I call on everyone to 'stump-up and help ya mates!" Mr White said.
According to the Red Cross, $15 is enough to support a family who has just been evacuated from their home during a bushfire, $20 can help train and support Red Cross volunteers to provide advice and support to those struggling in the aftermath of a disaster, $100 can provide 40 households with emergency REDIplan materials to help them prepare for disaster, while $200 can deliver a preparedness session for 30 people.
A donation of $1,000 can assist the Red Cross in setting up and staff an emergency information service to help those searching for missing friends or family.
Anyone looking to donate to the Broker Bushfire Appeal can do so via the relevant page on the Red Cross site.
A new National Bushfire Recovery Agency
The Broker Bushfire Appeal comes amid a growing pool of donations and work to help combat the bushfires and support the hundreds of thousands of people affected.
On Monday (6 January), Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the federal government is establishing a new agency to coordinate a national response to rebuild communities and livelihoods after the devastating fire front has passed.
The $2-billion National Bushfire Recovery Agency, led by former Australian Police commissioner Andrew Colvin, has been created to "ensure the families, farmers and business owners hit by these unprecedented bushfires would get the support they needed as they recover".
It is said to be similar to the North Queensland Livestock Industry Recovery Agency, which was established following the 2019 North Queensland floods, and the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority created after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.
Its key tasks will include:
- Building on the working relationships with state, territory and local governments, including their recovery and reconstruction bodies, and to work with stakeholders in bushfire affected communities, and relevant Commonwealth agencies to inform and integrate recovery and rebuild activities;
- Ensuring affected communities have ready access to "meaningful support and all available services";
- Providing advice and recommendations to government on the economic and social impacts of bushfire on affected communities, in consultation with relevant agencies across all levels of government; and
- Developing and coordinating the delivery of a long-term plan for the recovery, rebuild and resilience of bushfire affected communities.
Announcing the new agency, the Prime Minister commented: "It's a long road ahead, and we will be with these communities every step of the way as they rebuild.
"While the immediate focus for our emergency services and the Australian Defence Force is keeping people safe and defending against the fires hitting so many areas, we also need to be ready to hit the ground in communities where the fire front has passed to help them rebuild.
"The agency will ensure the work of state and territory governments is being supported and act as a 'one-stop shop' central team to coordinate the response. We will do whatever it takes," the Prime Minister said.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the initial $2-billion investment for the agency and its recovery work would be on top of the existing disaster recovery payments and allowances, which have so far seen more than $100 million worth of assistance flowing through to families, small businesses and farmers.
Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the government would "continue to respond to changing conditions while these fires affect communities across the country".
"We will help people on the fire front and people that have been evacuated from affected areas, and the ADF is also helping deliver supplies such as food, fuel and medical assistance.
"When the rebuilding begins, the Commonwealth will be there to make sure communities are well resourced," Minister Littleproud said.
The National Bushfire Recover Agency will work within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and report to Minister Littleproud.
Funding for the agency is in addition to the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements that have been activated in all bushfire affected areas already, with $25 million in Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance.
The Commonwealth and NSW governments have already committed $86 million for the recovery effort in that state and is in addition to the Australian government's support for volunteer firefighters who are eligible for up to $6,000 per person to provide for lost income.
The big four banks also recently announced million-dollar donation packages to support those facing bushfires, and several celebrities have also been actively donating money to the front lines in recent days.
Australian comedian Celeste Barber launched a Facebook appeal for the NSW Rural Fire Service and Brigade last week, which has since raised more than $33 million. Australian actress Nicole Kidman and her singer husband Keith Urban, as well as US singer Pink, recently donated $500,000 to firefighters - while Golden Globe-winning actor Russel Crowe has also been actively supporting the fire services after being directly impacted by the fires near his property at Nana Glen, NSW.
There have been many fundraisers and appeals set up by charities, organisations and individuals as well as the Broker Bushfire Appeal, including:
Author - Annie Kane
Source - The Advisor