State Member for the Electorate of Cessnock, Clayton Barr, MP, has encouraged local firefighters to apply for compensation through the recently available Volunteer Firefighter Payment Scheme.
“Compensation is now available for volunteer firefighters who have lost income while battling blazes across NSW, and I encourage every local RFS and SES firey, who is out of pocket as a consequence of the bushfires to apply,” Mr Clayton Barr said.
“Firefighters have been so heavily relied on and called upon in our community over recent months, and we need them to recover financially, as well as emotionally and physically,” Mr Barr said.
The Volunteer Firefighter Payment was announced in late December after public pressure mounted on both the NSW Premier and the Prime Minister who had avoided the matter for as long as possible. Firefighters have only been able to apply for financial support since mid-January.
So while Mr Barr is pleased that financial recovery for RFS and SES volunteers can commence, he said the compensation scheme hasn’t met his expectations.
“This scheme needed to be rolled out a month earlier than it was, the eligibility criteria and the paperwork are unnecessarily complicated, until recently the SES were excluded and the cap of $6,000 is ridiculous – it is the equivalent of about 20 days fighting fires that have been burning since September,” Mr Barr said.
Mr Barr said that any Cessnock Electorate firefighter who has been told that he or she is not eligible and is out of pocket to contact his office, so that representations can be made on their behalf to the Minister.
Volunteer firefighters can access more information and the application at: https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/apply-volunteer-firefighter-payment