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Relief payments being transferred to storm victims.

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Minister Ludwig’s media contact: Joe Scavo 0413 800 757

MEDIA RELEASE Senator the Hon Joe Ludwig Minister for Human Services Senator for Queensland

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Relief payments being transferred to storm victims

Minister for Human Services, Senator Joe Ludwig, has been on the ground in South East Queensland coordinating the Commonwealth Government’s response to the severe storms that stuck the region at the weekend.

“The immediate response to people in crisis has been strengthened by a doubling of the ADF presence to more than 700 last night,” Senator Ludwig said.

“Their main task today has been to protect homes from further rain damage, by placing tarpaulins over shattered roofs.”

“During my visits to the areas affected by the storms, I have seen first hand the devastation that they have caused. The response of the Rudd Government has been decisive and I am glad we were able to get boots on the ground quickly in the affected areas.”

The other element of the Commonwealth response has also been implemented very quickly.

“Centrelink will start paying the Australian Government’s Disaster Recovery Payment to families from tomorrow,” Senator Ludwig said.

“Processing of payments is taking place this afternoon with the first of the storm victims expected to receive payments into their bank accounts tomorrow morning.”

“Yesterday the Prime Minister announced a one-off payment of $1000 for adults and $400 for each child to help relieve their hardship.”

“The Prime Minister’s announcement has been welcomed by many, with Centrelink already receiving 750 calls to the South East Queensland Storms Hotline.”

“Centrelink staff have issued more than 400 Disaster Recovery Payment claim forms, mostly from the Firhill Street Recovery Centre in Ashgrove.”

“It’s great to see Centrelink’s quick response. Staff are working around the clock to support these families - both to get their claims in and process them, and to provide emotional support as those affected come to terms with the scope of the damage.”

Centrelink has also implemented special lodgement procedures for ongoing customers.

Minister Ludwig’s media contact: Joe Scavo 0413 800 757

Centrelink customers due to submit Continuation of Payment forms this week, but who can’t easily reach their regular office due to storm damage, can lodge by phone.

Customers who live in Ferny Hills, Ferny Grove, Arana Hills, The Gap, Narangba, Burpengary, Beaudesert, Mt Tamborine, Keperra, Mt Cootha, Morayfield, Wonglepong, Samford and Canungra can lodge their forms by telephone.

The Ashgrove Recovery Centre contains eight Centrelink customer service advisers and social workers. In addition to those on the ground, there are another 180 staff in Victoria, NSW and Queensland taking calls and processing claims.

“Centrelink will continue to assess the situation in conjunction with local authorities and will provide further advice if the arrangements are to be extended beyond this week,” Senator Ludwig said.

“If people are unsure about whether they should make a claim or have questions about what assistance is available to them, they should contact the Australian Government’s South East Queensland Storms Hotline on 180 2266.”