A fully operational Eurobodalla Bushfire Recovery Centre opened in Batemans Bay yesterday.
The Recovery Centre, now located at the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club, is designed as a one-stop-shop for recovery information and services for the community and to expedite government processes.
The centre is an official NSW Government Disaster Welfare Assistance Point and immediate assistance with accommodation and relief grants will be available for fire-impacted residents.
Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes encouraged anyone impacted by the fires to register for assistance.
“The Recovery Centre represents the next step for the community to move forward. It’s all about practical, confidential assistance to rebuild our community with emotional, physical and economic support. We want everyone affected by the fires to register and take advantage of the extensive range of government and non-government services available,” Cr Innes said.
The centre, managed by the NSW Department of Justice, Office of Emergency Management, and supported by Eurobodalla Shire Council, will be open 7 days a week from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm weekdays, and from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on weekends, and will remain open until support is no longer needed.
The centre shifted from the Batemans Bay Community Centre to accommodate the number of services on offer.
Eurobodalla Recovery Centre Manager Steve Picton says the centre is for anyone who has been affected by the disaster.
“The centre is here for people who have had their lives changed by these fires, including those who have had property damage to a dwelling or business,” Mr Picton said.
Professional staff who understand the emergency are on hand to help with Red Cross workers at the door to guide people through the centre.
“We have tried to make the process as simple as possible. There is a one-page registration form per household. Once you are registered, the Red Cross workers will direct you through the centre to the services that are available here. If you have to wait, we will give you a cup of tea and somewhere to sit.”
Services at the centre include accommodation, insurance, legal aid, health and council services.
“Most of the insurance companies are represented here and residents can come and ask for general advice about claims,” Mr Picton said.
“We have already had people come and seek assistance with their elderly relatives and carers for people living with a disability. People can come in and enquire on behalf of friends and neighbours so they can go back and tell people what is on offer. Please don’t hold back because you are unsure, that is why we are here, to answer questions.”
Picton says there is also assistance on offer for small business and farmers. “We know that businesses are busy trying to get back on their feet, we hope that by being open seven days a week, business owners will have an opportunity to come in. There are a range of grants and loans available for some types of business, we will try to help as much as we can.”
As well as providing financial support and advice, the Recovery Centre is also a safe place for those affected by the disaster to meet and talk about their experiences. No appointment is necessary.
“We have counsellors and mental health professional on-site. There are quiet spaces, a children’s area and rooms set up for confidential counselling and support for anyone feeling unsafe and wishing to speak with someone,” Picton said.
Transport to the centre can be arranged if required, and the centre is looking to provide additional community supports across the shire in the coming weeks.
The Eurobodalla Bushfire Recovery Centre is located at the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club, 6 Beach Road, Batemans Bay. Parking is available off Flora Crescent.
Those wishing to arrange transport will need to call Eurobodalla Community Transport 4474 1040 and make a booking in advance.
If you are unable to get to the Disaster Welfare Assistance Point please call the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444.