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Emergency accommodation after bushfires: What are your options?

Posted: 6 January 2020 5:38 pm
News

Car driving in NSW through bushfire.

Learn about who to contact, evacuation centres, temporary accommodation and more.

As devastating bushfire activity continues to rage across our nation, more and more Australians are being forced to evacuate their homes. But once packed up, what should you do and where should you go?

If you, or someone you know, has been affected or displaced by the fires, this guide can help you contact the right people and locate suitable and safe accommodation.

Who to contact in case of emergency

First and foremost, for all life-threatening emergencies, contact 000 immediately.

Otherwise, if your situation is not life-threatening, you should heed the instructions of your local authorities.

Each state and territory has a bushfire information service to help you keep across the latest information.

You can reach them using the following links:

Depending on the area's bushfire risk, you may be advised to evacuate or prepare to evacuate, in which case, you should be aware of where your nearest evacuation or relief centre is.

Even if you haven't been told to evacuate yet, you can start preparations now by following our Bushfire Survival Guide.

Once safe, it's important to contact your home insurer to alert them of your situation. They can then walk you through your next steps, which can include temporary accommodation if it's covered by your policy and if your home is unsafe to return to.

Even if you've relocated to an evacuation centre, you may still be entitled to private emergency accommodation. You may also be entitled to claim accommodation costs while your home is being repaired.

Evacuation centres

Across the nation, emergency evacuation centres have been set up in hotspots of bushfire activity.

If you've been issued an evacuation warning and are seeking safe haven from the fires, here's a breakdown of the centres and refuges in your state.

If you're no longer in a life-threatening situation but need assistance, the Salvation Army is dedicated to providing emergency and disaster relief. It offers housing and meals as well as financial and emotional support.

You can contact The Salvation Army on 1300 662 217 or via email at sal.disasters@salvationarmy.org.au.

Temporary accommodation

During times of crisis, Australians open their hearts and, in this case, homes to those in need.

Thousands of locals and companies have pulled out their support for those left homeless by the bushfires by offering up spare beds, rooms and homes. Here are some of your options if you're unable to return home immediately.

Airbnb

Airbnb's Open Homes initiative was established in 2012 with the aim to provide free shelter to those in times of crisis.

During our time of crisis, Aussies have jumped on the platform to offer free space to those affected by the bushfires in NSW and Victoria. This can be anyone from those who have lost their homes to the fires to relief workers seeking to stay close to their posts.

Accommodation is available for stays from 1-16 January 2020 and can be booked through the Airbnb site here.

Oaks Hotels

Hotel chain Oaks is offering seven-day complimentary accommodation to those who have lost their homes in part or in full due to the bushfires. Properties are available in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia and can be booked by contacting Oaks directly on 1800 954 518.

To be eligible for the stay, you'll need to be 18+ years and provide proof of your circumstances. This includes a letter from your insurance company, fire or police that states the impact on your property by the bushfires between October 2019 and January 2020 as well as proof of your connection with the property and evidence that your home is currently uninhabitable. More information can be found on the Oaks website.

Pacific Hotels' Pacific Suites in Canberra has also offered 155 rooms to those who have been impacted. Marriott International is donating rooms to fire service volunteers and departments across the nation.

Find A Bed

Established in response to the Australia bushfires, Find A Bed connects people and pets in need of accommodation with spare spaces. It's run by locals who do their best to locate a space to suit your needs. However, as it is a personal website, there is no screening process or personal insurance attached, so you'll have to exercise caution when using the platform.

Before you accept your host or guest, you'll be given the chance for a phone chat as a personal screening process.

For more information and to sign up, head to the Find A Bed website.

If you're still unable to source a place to stay, another option is Helping Homes. Similar to Find A Bed, it connects you with spare rooms in your area, but again, it's a personal site so there is no screening process.


Camplify

The caravan and motorhome sharing community has put its wheels together to build Camplify Disaster Relief. It's a way for Australians willing to share their vans to provide temporary and free accommodation to those impacted by the bushfires.

This iniative runs until 7 February and in return for their generosity, van owners who participate will receive a free month of comprehensive hiring insurance on Camplify.

Those impacted by the bushfires can search for vans on Camplify's Disaster Relief page.

If you have a van to share or are experienced in towing caravans or trailers you can support this disaster relief here.


What to do once you're safe

Once you're settled in emergency or temporary accommodation and you've contacted your insurer, you can let people know you're safe.

The Red Cross offers a Register.Find.Reunite program where you can register your details and location so loved ones can locate you. Likewise, if you're unable to locate your loved ones who have been impacted by the bushfires, you can search for them on the register.

If you need support in other ways, the government's dedicated bushfire page has resources for each state and territory that has been affected.

We'll keep this page updated as we learn more. Comment below if we've missed something.

Resources for those impacted by the Australian bushfires

Picture: GettyImages

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