11 March 2020

Compensation for ACT RFS and SES volunteers set to open

| Dominic Giannini
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Hall Volunteer Rural Fire Brigade

ACT RFS and SES volunteers will now be able to claim compensation of up to $6000 from the Federal Government after an unprecedented bushfire season. Photo: Hall Volunteer Rural Fire Brigade.

ACT Rural Fire Service (RFS) and ACT State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers will now be able to apply for tax-free, financial compensation of up to $6,000 for loss of income associated with fighting fires over the summer.

The ACT Government is expecting around 200 applicants to access the scheme which is paid for by the Federal Government.

The payments will be made on equivalent terms as those offered to volunteers from NSW. The payment will be accessible to those who have volunteered more than 10 days over the financial year. Volunteers would often average 12 to 14-hour days firefighting, often for five to six days in a row before getting a break.

As the ACT RFS and ACT SES are under the same umbrella of the Emergency Services Agency (ESA), the Territory Government has confirmed that SES members will also be eligible for the $300 a day payment.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman said the payment will help volunteers who put their lives on hold to help their communities.

“Our volunteers work tirelessly and professionally to help the Canberra community and ask for nothing in return,” Minister Gentleman said.

“The ACT Government has worked to secure them the same support being offered to our NSW colleagues by the Federal Government.

“These support payments will help ensure volunteers who are self-employed or working for small businesses are not left significantly out-of-pocket.”

Just days ago, Chief Minister Andrew Barr awarded the ACT Citizen of the Year to all emergency services staff and personnel for their valiant and consistent effort in the Territory’s most challenging bushfire season since 2003.

“Thousands of staff and volunteers who put themselves between us and danger on many occasions – who came in to assist the community after significant hailstorms, flooding, smoke, and fires – played an outstanding role in supporting our community,” Mr Barr said.

Volunteers will be notified about how to make an application through the ESA website and internal communications channels.

Payments will cover the period from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020.

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