Federal Government agrees to extend support payments to volunteer ACT rural firefighters

Released 08/01/2020 - Joint media release

On Saturday 4 January Mick Gentleman, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and I wrote to the Prime Minister with a request to provide Volunteer Firefighters’ Financial Support Program payments to volunteers of the ACT Rural Fire Service and SES. We asked for the same criteria to be applied to our firefighters that was announced by the Australian Government for the NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers.

The Prime Minister has today agreed to our request to access payments for ACT volunteer firefighters, on equivalent terms as those offered to New South Wales. We are happy to share this information ahead of the temperature increase forecast for Friday and the challenging conditions that will continue for our firefighters.

The ACT Rural Fire Service and SES volunteers have been providing much-needed support to their NSW and QLD counterparts since September, as well as recently containing the Hospital Hill fire here in the ACT this week.

Grants of up to $6000 (with a $300 daily cap) will be made available to our volunteer firefighters who are self-employed or employed by a small or medium business who have lost income as a result of volunteering to fight the fires. The payment is only applicable to those who have volunteered for more than ten days over the financial year.

I would like to again thank the brave ACT Rural Fire Service and SES volunteers currently protecting our Territory and the neighbouring region.

The ACT Government is working with the Commonwealth on the delivery of payments, with guidelines in place to ensure they go to all eligible volunteers. These payments will cover the period from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020. All ACT volunteers involved in fighting fires during this period will potentially be eligible and payments will be accessible from next month.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman

“Our volunteer firefighters sign up because they want to protect their communities and help their neighbours. They show a remarkable level of bravery and professionalism and I thank them for their selfless work.

“Longer and more severe fire seasons due to climate change are creating an even greater need for our volunteer firefighters.

“This compensation will ensure those who are self-employed or are employed by a small to medium sized employer aren’t left out of pocket.

“I would also like to thank employers in the ACT who provide volunteers with emergency services leave, which is crucial to supporting their efforts.”

- Statement ends -

Section: Andrew Barr, MLA | Mick Gentleman, MLA | Media Releases

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