Bushfire-Affected Families Say They Haven't Seen A Cent In Donations
NSW residents who have been left homeless after bushfires devastated their towns say they’re frustrated that they haven’t received a cent in donations or anything promised by the government.
Many told 10 News First that they are yet to receive a cent from the millions of dollars donated to bushfire relief, or promised by state and federal governments.
Others have claimed that the little relief they did get has already run out.
Bill Walker said he made it out with just the clothes on his back after a fire tore through his community of Willawarrin, north-west of Kempsey in November.
Months on, the 77-year-old’s home is still a pile of rubble and ash, he has no power and barely eats.
"People need help, all monetary mainly, cause everything is costing," the pensioner told 10 News First.
Walker said he wasn't insured but hopes that he can rebuild.
Aside from a small payment early on, he said he hasn't seen another cent of the tens of millions of dollars pledged to support the country's bushfire victims.
"I got a thousand bucks that kept me going for a bit -- I had to get new glasses they melted," he said.
He felt the 'pencil pushers' could be doing a better job of getting things moving.
They could do with a bit of a wake-up.
His temporary home -- a caravan -- was given to him by friends but he said he has been without power since November and he's not alone.
Opposition leader Jodi McKay said the situation is distressing because people expect money that has been promised or donated to make a difference.
“I think this is an issue of red tape," McKay said.
"I think it's about the government, it must case manage each and every issue.”
John Barilaro, the man appointed to oversee the recovery effort in NSW, said the government is working hard to fast track recovery efforts.
“I understand the frustration," he told 10 News First.
"I'm not saying there won't be people who fall through the cracks.”
The State Government originally committed $231 million but topped up the disaster relief effort with an extra billion dollars in funds.
From Monday the process has been simplified.
Now, instead of calling different agencies, Service NSW is a one-stop-shop.
“We've also got service NSW visiting regions, we've got pop-ups, we've got recovery centres. A lot of the government agencies are there,” Barilaro said.
He said affected Australians should start seeing results in the next couple of weeks.