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Support for QFES Volunteers

Purpose

The Volunteer Firefighters Compensation Package supports Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) volunteers, who have dedicated considerable personal time to respond to these extraordinary bushfires and incurred a financial loss of income as a result.

Eligible volunteers will receive up to $6000 in compensation if they have volunteered to firefight on a fire ground, or provided direct operational support to bushfire response activities, for more than 10 calendar days between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020.

A volunteer may only claim actual lost net (post-tax) income up to $200 per day without evidence or - $300 per day with evidence, to a maximum of $6000.

Primary producers can claim $200 per day, regardless of their recent income history, in recognition of the ongoing impact the drought is having on rural incomes. They can claim up to the maximum of $300 per day, however will need evidence of actual income lost for claims above $200 per day.

The payments are tax-free, not means-tested and additional to any other forms of disaster support a volunteer may be eligible for.

This package is funded by the Australian Government, and administered by the Queensland Government, under Category D of the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

Eligibility criteria

QFES Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service volunteers must meet the following criteria to receive the package:

1. Experienced loss of income from being:
a. self-employed;
or;
b. employed by a small or medium-sized business, being a business with an annual turnover of less than $50 million in the 2018-19 financial year, and has exhausted all available paid leave entitlements (not including long service leave, annual recreational or sick leave) and;
2. Volunteered, as part of an operational response to bushfire firefighting on a fire ground or provide direct operational support to bushfire response activities for more than 10 calendar days between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020. This can include reasonable travel and recovery time but does not include training or participating in non-emergency operations (e.g. hazard reduction burns).

The Commonwealth Government has determined that eligible operational support activities include:

  • airbase operations
  • airbase management
  • managing staging areas
  • equipment officers
  • peer support officers
  • community educators
  • Incident Management Teams at local, regional and the State Operations Centres.

The Commonwealth Government has determined that ineligible operational support activities are:

  • catering support
  • brigade support members.

QFES volunteers, deployed interstate as part of an operational response to bushfires firefighting on a fire ground or providing direct operational support to bushfire response activities, can apply through this package.

Interstate volunteers, deployed to Queensland to support bushfire response activities must apply through the Volunteer Firefighters Compensation Package of their own respective state or territory, if available.

What can be claimed

Eligible volunteers can claim for the net income they lost because they were volunteering and not working – over the 10 calendar days minimum – between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020. The 10 days do not need to be consecutive or for a single fire event.

Volunteers can only claim lost income after 10 calendar days – i.e, if a volunteer undertakes 15 calendar days of eligible volunteer service, they can claim for five days of lost income, if they were rostered on to work or would have worked in their business on those days (15 days - 10 day minimum = 5 days that can be claimed).

A volunteer may only claim actual lost net (post-tax) income up to $200 per day without evidence or up to $300 per day with evidence, up to a maximum of $6000.

Primary producers can claim $200 per day, regardless of their recent income history, in recognition of the ongoing impact the drought is having on rural incomes. They can claim up to the maximum of $300 per day, however will need evidence of actual income lost for claims above $200 per day.

A volunteer cannot claim loss of income if they still have appropriate paid leave available (e.g. a community service leave or discretionary leave category) from their employer to undertake firefighting activities. A volunteer may still claim if they have used their own long service leave, annual recreational or sick leave to be absent from work to volunteer.

Multiple claims can be made, up to the maximum of $6000. Applicants will need to fill out another claim form for any additional, eligible volunteer service up to 30 June 2020. Applications will not be accepted beyond 31 July 2020.

Payments will be made directly to applicants via electronic funds transfer.

How to apply

Applicants will need the following information to complete their application:

  • Membership/Volunteer ID number
  • Name of business/employer
  • Dates of the 10 days minimum service
  • Dates - for the days (after the 10 days minimum) you are claiming compensation for
  • Bank details
  • Evidence of your claim, including timesheets, group certificates, BAS statements etc if you are claiming between $200 and $300 per day.
Apply now

Eligible applicants can apply online for this program.

Electronic applications are preferred and will result in a faster assessment and payment. Applicants may also contact 1800 268 462 to apply over the phone.

Key dates

DescriptionTimeframe
Period to undertake volunteering activities1 July 2019 – 30 June 2020
Program application officially opens13 January 2020
Application period closes31 July 2020

Information and Record Keeping

By submitting this application you are providing personal information. The use of the personal information is only for the function for which it has been transferred and complies with the limitations under the Information Privacy Act 2009.

Applicants must consent to the Queensland Government conducting an audit of detail provided in the application to verify the information provided with the claim. In addition to requesting supporting evidence from applicants, the Queensland Government may confirm volunteer details and days claimed with Brigade/SES group/QFES representatives. Applicants must also provide authorisation for the Queensland Government to contact their employer to confirm or verify information provided in the application.

Applicants must retain relevant documentary evidence (such as timesheets, pay slips, group certificates etc.) and provide on request for audit validation.

Penalties apply where false or misleading information is provided.

Applicants must retain relevant documentary evidence (such as timesheets, pay slips, group certificates etc.) for five years for audit validation.

Applicants will be required to return funds if subsequent audit validation cannot confirm eligibility with Australian Government requirements.

Administration

This program is administered by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, with the assistance of the Department of Housing and Public Works.