Bushfire Recovery Portal

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Bushfire Recovery Portal

The Orara Valley, and other communities with the Coffs Harbour City Council local government area were impacted by severe bushfires in November 2019.

In total, 17 houses were lost and 7 damaged and a large number of outbuildings were destroyed and properties impacted. There was also a loss of trade to businesses within the Orara Valley area, and an impact on the local tourism industry.

To help our community recover from the bushfires, we have been working to deliver a range of initiatives and programs  with the NSW and Federal Government, as well as agencies, and charities to deliver a range of initiatives and support.

To find news and information on Bushfire Recovery in our area visit our 'Bushfire Recovery News and Updates' page.

This service, provided by Service NSW, helps individuals and businesses impacted by bushfire to find available support across all levels of government. 

Assistance includes: 

  • Accommodation advice 
  • Relevant charitable services 
  • Mental health and wellbeing services 
  • Support for businesses 
  • Clean-up services 
  • Financial assistance 
  • Grants and rebates 
  • Insurance and legal support 
  • Replacing lost ID 
  • Volunteer RFS and SES payments 

Please call Service NSW on 13 77 88, visit their Service Centre at 32 Gordon Street, Coffs Harbour or go to their website for more information.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) and Local Land Services (LLS) coordinate and provide recovery assistance and advice to landholders, primary producers, commercial fishers and other industries impacted by a natural disaster event. 

Visit the NSW DPI bushfire portal for recovery information on a range of topics including feeding and health related issues in livestock, managing pastures and aquaculture.

Rates and Charges Relief 

Council provides Rates and Charges relief to ratepayers (to extend due dates for payment etc.) via its Rates, Charges and Fees - Financial Hardship Policy. For more information, on how to apply for this relief please contact Council on 02 6648 4000 during business hours. 

Assistance with Repairs and Rebuilding 

For information about rebuilding after the fires please, contact Ben Oliver on 02 6648 4626 during business hours. 

Application Fee Relief 

Council at it's meeting of 13 February 2020 resolved to waive rebuilding development and construction related application fees and charges for bushfire impacted property owners identified by the Rural Fire Service Building Impact Assessment process. 

Please note that this fee waiver applies to benefit the current property owners and is not transferrable in the event of the property being sold.

Bushfire Recovery Program 

The community, business, environmental specialists and agencies are being consulted and engaged to assist recovery in regards to the Built, Social, Natural and Economic Environments.

Council has launched a community consultation site to learn what ideas you may have for communities and government agencies to help in these areas of recovery and to find ways to improve disaster management in future events.

Nana Glen community and surrounding residents, heavily impacted by the fires, are being provided with information about recovery assistance directly from relevant agencies.

Find out more here.

Community Recovery Officer

You can contact Council's Community Recovery Officer Melinda Brooks on 02 6648 4840.

Grant Opportunities 

Council in partnership with GrantGuru provides an online service called ‘Coffs Harbour Grant Finder’ to all local businesses, community groups, not-for-profits and individuals. This site provides a comprehensive list of disaster grant and funding opportunities available. 

The NSW Government will coordinate the clean-up of properties (both insured and uninsured) destroyed by bush fires at no cost to residents, so they can start rebuilding. 

Clean-up arrangements will include: 

  • The appointment of contractors to clean-up bush fire impacted properties. 
  • Costs for clean-up will be covered by the NSW Government in partnership with the Federal Government. 
  • Where insurance companies have commenced clean-up works, for safety reasons these will continue. 

Impacted owners wanting their property cleared through this program need to call Service NSW on 13 77 88 to register their details and provide consent for access to their land.

Further information is available in this fact sheet.

Please Remember: Fire damaged sites may not be safe. Caution is required. 

Before returning to your property after a bushfire, consider the following health and safety precautions: 

  • Do not enter your property until you are advised that it is safe to do so by emergency services or utility services.
  • Electrical hazards could exist such as live power lines that may be down or active solar panels. 
  • Buildings and other structures may be unstable to enter or walk over. 
  • Be aware that hot, smouldering coals and other potentially hazardous materials may be hidden under the rubble.
  • Buildings built before 1987 may contain asbestos in the form of flat or corrugated sheets (fibro) used for walls, ceilings, roofing or in products such as pipes. Appropriate precautions and use of Personal Protective Equipment is necessary.

It is completely normal to experience a range of emotions after a fire, including anxiety, forgetfulness, sleep disturbance and more. Having someone to listen to and support you through this is very important. Check in on your friends and neighbours, and if you or someone you know needs help, reach out. 

The following are free services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week: 

  • Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511 
  • Lifeline - 13 11 14 
  • Mensline - 1300 789 978 
  • Kids Helpline - 1800 55 1800 
  • Beyond blue - 1300 22 4636 

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 000. 

The following free service is available to people impacted by fires and drought. No GP referral is needed. 

  • Northern NSW - Connect to Wellbeing 1300 160 339.

Beyond Blue has developed a list of resources and information around bushfires and mental health. It contains high-quality evidence-based advice on dealing with the emotional impact of bushfires, information about the signs and symptoms of emotional distress, and links to several useful websites. 

You'll also find links that will allow you to assess whether you are eligible for financial grants, loans or other forms of assistance from your state and federal governments. Find out more on their website.

The State Government has commissioned national not-for-profit organisation GIVIT to co-ordinate the donation of much-needed goods and services in bushfire-affected communities across the State. 

You can find further information about GIVIT here.

You can find further information on the Minister's announcement here

Office of Emergency Management 

The Office of Emergency Management provides support (including financial assistance grants) to help people and communities recover from disasters such as the recent bushfires. You can call the disaster welfare assistance line on 1800 018 444 or go to their Emergency website for more information. 

Bank Hardship Teams 

Australian banks have hardship teams ready to assist homeowners, small business owners and volunteers with financial arrangements, depending on circumstances. Assistance may include: 

  • deferred loan payments 
  • waiving fees and charges 
  • helping with debt consolidation 

Contact your bank today or find your bank’s hardship team here.

Disaster Recovery Legal Service

Legal Aid NSW is operating a Disaster Response Legal Service which provides legal help to people in NSW affected by the bushfires. Help is available for:

  • Insurance
  • Credit hardship
  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Replacement of documents (e.g. Certificates of Title)
The Disaster Response Legal Service attends all Disaster Recovery Centres. People can also access the service by calling the Disaster Response HelpLine on 1800 801 529.

Need legal help after the bushfires? All the resource you need can be found at: www.disasterhelp.legalaid.nsw.gov.au

Use of Retardant during Firefighting Operations 

Fire suppressant retardants and gels from aircraft are used during firefighting operations to help slow the spread of fire. For information about what to do if these suppressants have been used on your property, refer to this fact sheet from the RFS and this advice from NSW Health - Fire retardants and private water sources. 

For information on dealing with Hazards from bushfire clean-ups, including Asbestos:

Using Rainwater after a Fire 

It is important for residents in fire-affected areas, or in areas where ash may have fallen on roofs, to ensure rainwater from the first full rainfall event is not collected as it may be contaminated by ash. If you think that your rainwater tank has been contaminated you can still use the water to fight fires, flush toilets and wash clothes (provided it will not stain them). 

Other Useful Information 

RFS Fact Sheets

The Rural Fire Service has translated factsheets with information about bushfires into a number of languages, which may be of use to our communities. You can access these fact sheets here which are available in the following languages:








Simplified Chinese

Traditional Chinese




Image courtesy of Andrew Wright - Travelling Stock Route Nana Glen.