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Assistance continues for those affected by Junee bushfires.



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Media Release 17 January 2006

ASSISTANCE CONTINUES FOR THOSE AFFECTED BY JUNEE BUSHFIRES The Nationals Member for Riverina Kay Hull today said local agencies and both Federal and NSW

Government departments are continuing to provide assistance to those affected by the Junee bushfires.

Mrs Hull said assistance available to farmers affected by the bushfire at Junee over the New Year period includes:

Personal Hardship and Distress (PHD) assistance: Assistance is provided through the NSW Dept of Community Services (DoCS) to restore or replace damaged or destroyed homes to a safe and habitable state. This also includes essential items of household furniture and personal belongings.

The Australian Government contributes 50% of the costs of Personal Hardship and Distress Assistance under the Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements (NDRA), reimbursed to the NSW Government.

Centrelink: Centrelink has social worker assistance available to offer counselling support and information services. The Centrelink call centre contact number is 131 021. Farmers in the Junee region who previously may have been ineligible for Exceptional Circumstances but have been affected by the bushfires can contact Centrelink seeking a re-assessment. For those that were receiving EC assistance, an increase in income assistance may also be available depending on

individual circumstances.

Concessional Loans: Farmers (and small business operators) may be able to access concessional interest rate loans (of up to $130,000 over 10 years). The loans are administered by the NSW Rural Assistance Authority (NSW RAA). Contact 1800 678 593.

Concessional Loans are eligible under the NDRA for Australian Government reimbursement at up to 75% subject to NSW expenditure thresholds.

Financial Counselling: Financial counselling assistance is available to affected farmers. The local provider is North East Riverina Counselling Service located at Ganmain. Contact number 02 6927 6622

The Rural Financial Counselling Service is 50% funded through the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

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For further information contact Katie Brunskill on 02 6921 4600 or 0428 214 600.