Essential services safety and reconnection grant

The Essential Services Safety and Reconnection Scheme (ESSRS) grant helps people who are uninsured, or unable to claim insurance, and who meet an income test, by providing a contribution towards  inspecting, repairing and reconnecting essential services (i.e. electricity, gas, water or sewerage) that were damaged by a disaster.

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What the ESSRS is

There are 2 parts to the grant – uninsured, low income, owner-occupiers may receive:

  • Inspection: Up to $200 towards a safety inspection for each essential service needing reconnection (electricity, gas, water/hot water and sewerage/septic system).
  • Repair: Up to $4,200 towards repair work needed to reconnect these essential services (for example, electrical rewiring).

Who can apply

You must meet all these requirements:

  • your principal place of residence (home) is in an eligible area affected by the disaster event
  • you were living in your principal place of residence (which includes a caravan or boat)  when the disaster happened
  • your home sustained damage to one or more of these essential services as a result of the disaster:
    • electricity, including turbine or solar power or a generator if this is the only source of power
    • gas
    • water
    • hot water (either gas or electricity)
    • sewerage/septic system.
  • you must own or have a mortgage on the  residential dwelling. If multiple dwellings are on the same property and are not separately metered, we can assess them as separate households if you can demonstrate you live independently of each other.
  • You must not hold an insurance policy that covers you for expenses or losses sustained during the disaster.
  • If you hold an insurance policy:
    • You do not have coverage for the particular event (e.g. storm/flood) and/or
    • You must have evidence that the insurance claim has been declined.
  • You must qualify under the income test outlined below.

Income test (how much you earn)

Your gross (before tax) weekly income must be less than or equal to:

  • individual: $1,133 ($58,905 per year)
  • couple: $1,566 ($81,441 per year)
  • sole parent, one child: $1,567 ($81,498 per year)
  • couple, one child: $1,942 ($100,982 per year).

For each additional child, add a further $376 per week. For each dependent adult, add $433 per week.

The income of any other adult/s in the household is not included. Where a property is jointly owned by 2 or more unrelated people, the income test is applied to all owners.

What’s not covered

You cannot apply to repair:

  • investment properties, such as holiday houses or rental properties
  • structures that are not legally approved residential dwellings
  • assets such as caravans, sheds and boats that are not your primary place of residence
  • damage that existed before the event
  • property maintenance work.

How to apply

You can apply for this grant either:

What you need to apply

You need to have:

  • date, details and photos of the damage
  • evidence from the utility service provider/s (e.g. Energex or local government) that your essential service/s cannot be reconnected at your home without certification from a suitably qualified person
  • proof that you own or have a mortgage on your home
  • either:
    • a statutory declaration advising that you do not hold an insurance policy or
    • evidence from your insurance company confirming you do not have coverage for the particular event (e.g. storm/flood) or
    • evidence that your insurance claim was declined
  • evidence that you meet the income test (e.g. payslips, Centrelink benefit statement or Australian Taxation Officer notice of assessment).

To complete your application, you will also need to provide evidence of your identity and place of residence. This can be:

  • Driver licence or other photo identification
  • Medicare card showing members of your family that you are applying for.

How to replace lost or destroyed documents.

If you don’t have this information, you will need to provide other evidence that shows your name, date of birth and address.

For help with your application, call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349 or visit a Community Recovery Hub or Support Services location.

Finalising your application

When your application is complete, we’ll call you to arrange a visit to your home to assess what is needed to reconnect your essential services.

Once you receive the grant payment, you have 12 months to complete the repairs.

The grant can be paid to you or directly to the tradesperson completing the repairs. This grant is divided into 2 parts, inspection costs and repair costs:

  • inspections – you need to send us the invoice or the tradesperson can send it directly to us
  • repairs – you need to send us a quote from a licenced contractor for approval.

You must make sure that we have approved the repair quote before the work starts on your home.

The grant can be paid by either:

  • Electronic Funds transfer (EFT) to the bank account you listed in your application. The timing depends on when your bank processes the payment.
  • Cheque mailed to the address in your application.

Support with repairs

We’ll contact you regularly to see how your home repairs are progressing and if you need any more support.

If you need help to get quotes or contract repairers, call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349.

View a register of approved tradespeople.

Other assistance

You may be able to apply for other grants if your repair bills cost more than the amount of this grant.

If you can’t source the full amount of funds required to repair your home, you may be able to access financial counselling to help with budgeting and prioritising expenditure.

More information