If you were affected by the 2019-20 Bushfires in South Australia, a range of information and services are available to help you.

Where to get help

For immediate medical assistance in an emergency always call Triple Zero (000) and ask for the ambulance.

Speak to your doctor about any issues or concerns that you have as soon as possible. Your doctor will be able to help and can make referrals to specialist services.

For information on health issues and support services visit:

For non-life threatening mental health emergencies, phone the 24/7 Mental Health Triage Service 13 14 65.

Going through a disaster like a bushfire takes a toll on all of us and coping is not always easy‚Äč. It's normal to feel emotional in a range of ways from feeling a bit shaky and confused to being overwhelmed with sadness or anger - even long after the event.

Taking time for a few calming, deeper than usual breaths to notice how we are feeling and/or connecting with our families and loved ones to let them know how we are doing can be of huge benefit to our emotional health. Traumatic events affect each of us differently, and we all need a bit of support from time-to-time. If you or someone you know is struggling, there is free help available.

Find out more about mental health support services after a disaster:

Counselling services

Regional Access (24 hours)

Free professional telephone and online counselling for people 15 years and older living or working in regional South Australia.

Phone 1300 032 186 for immediate support or get online support from Regional Access online counselling

Lifeline (24 hours)

Phone 13 11 14 for immediate support
Lifeline online counselling (6.30 to 11.30 pm, South Australian time)

Kids Helpline (24 hours)

Free counselling for people 5 to 25.

Phone 1800 55 1800 or get help online from Kids Helpline online counselling

Family and Business Support (FaBS) Program

PIRSA's Family and Business Support (FaBS) Program is a group of people offering support during difficult situations such as drought, bushfire and other adverse events. FaBS mentors provide free, informal advice and can connect you to services such as:

  • financial counselling
  • local health networks
  • emotional wellbeing and counselling services
  • government and non-government assistance
  • community organisations and donations.

To access the program, contact the PIRSA Recovery Team:

PIRSA Recovery Hotline: 1800 931 314
Email: PIRSA.drought@sa.gov.au

Mental health resources for children

Emergencies and disasters are extremely stressful and it is normal for children, even infants, to feel overwhelmed. Emerging Minds has developed a Community Trauma Toolkit to help adults and children understand the impacts of disaster and how to help lessen these impacts.

With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, recovery outreach teams are now recommencing their home visits. Outreach team members are available to meet with you at home to provide access to recovery services, including:

  • business advice
  • health and wellbeing
  • housing
  • financial advice
  • counselling services.

They can also just pop in to say hi and check in with you.

If you would like a visit from an outreach team member, or you know of somebody in the community who would benefit, please contact your Local Recovery Centre

A wide range of free counselling services are available to those impacted by the bushfires:

  • online
  • via telephone
  • in person

Regional Access (24 hours)

Free professional telephone and online counselling for people 15 years and older living or working in regional South Australia.

Phone 1300 032 186 for immediate support.
Regional Access online counselling

Lifeline (24 hours)

Phone 13 11 14 for immediate support
Lifeline online counselling (6.30 pm to 11.30 pm SA time)

Kids Helpline (24 hours)

Free counselling for people 5 to 25.

Phone 1800 55 1800
Kids Helpline online counselling

Family and Business Support (FaBS) Program

PIRSA's Family and Business Support (FaBS) Program are a group of people offering support during difficult situations such as drought, bushfire and other adverse events. FaBS mentors provide free, informal advice and can connect you to services such as:

  • financial counselling
  • local health networks
  • emotional wellbeing and counselling services
  • government and non-government assistance
  • community organisations and donations.

FaBS website

Those affected by a disaster can access free legal advice through the following services:

Contact the Legal Services Commission on weekdays between 9.00 am and 4.30 pm.

Phone 1300 366 424 to access the free telephone advisory service.

Legal assistance bushfire support project

Dedicated lawyers provide free legal help to those most affected by the 2019-20 South Australian bushfires, including Adelaide Hills, Kangaroo Island and Yorke Peninsula communities.

Face-to-face appointments are available at Parndana, Lobethal and Yorketown.

Visit the outreach calendar to see when they are next visiting.

Kangaroo Island residents can ring 8121 4473 or email bushfirelegal@clcsa.org.au

Residents from the Adelaide Hills can ring 1300 366 424.

Yorketown residents can call 1300 366 424 or 8121 4473.

Free mediation service

Uniting Communities is offering a free mediation service to assist with neighbourhood disputes resulting from the fires.

Visit Uniting Communities or phone 8342 1800. Please state you are a victim of the bushfires when making an appointment to ensure your case is given priority with booking times.

Free immigration advice

The Migration Institute of Australia (MIA) South Australia branch is offering free immigration advice and assistance to bushfire affected businesses and visa applicants.

Visit the MIA South Australia website for more information.

Contact your insurance company or broker as soon as possible if your home has been damaged and you need to make a claim. Making contact is critical to getting the claims process underway even if you don't know the full extent of damage to your property.

If you have questions about your insurance policies or need to find out who your insurer is, you can visit the Insurance Council of Australia website or phone the insurance disaster hotline on 1800 734 621.

In some circumstances you may also be eligible to claim on other insurance policies you may hold such as:

  • income protection
  • accident and illness
  • disability income
  • life insurance.

Lost documents

Don't worry if your insurance documents have been lost or damaged during the disaster as insurance companies keep electronic records. All you'll need to do is confirm personal details like your name and address.

Preparation

Before beginning the claims process, do some basic preparation.

  • Write a list of all items damaged or destroyed that you want to claim on insurance - eg carpets, clothing, curtains, electronic equipment and furniture. Include items in sheds and garages. If possible, include the make, model and date of purchase of items.
  • Check if your insurance policy covers the cost of a cleaning contractor or if they will pay for your time to do the work and the cleaning products you purchase.
  • When you start cleaning up and repairs, make sure you have 'before' and 'after' photos or videos of interior and exterior damage.
  • Keep receipts for the work that is done.

Process

Insurance companies will usually want to:

  • assess damage before any repairs are done
  • approve the repairer you are using
  • make sure that you have taken reasonable steps to prevent:
    • further damage to your property - e.g. placing a tarp over a damaged roof
    • theft - e.g. by securing broken doors and windows by boarding them up.

Complaints

If you have a problem with your insurance claim see How to complain on the MoneySmart website.

Financial hardship

If you are suffering financial hardship because of the event that has caused the insurance claim, companies may fast-track the assessment and make an advance payment for any urgent financial need.

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