The Palaszczuk Government has confirmed Queensland SES volunteers will also be eligible for compensation along with volunteer firefighters battling this extraordinary fire season.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wrote to the Prime Minister last month requesting compensation for Queensland firefighters after he announced a compensation scheme for New South Wales volunteer firefighters.
The Premier said she was pleased QFES volunteer firefighters and SES workers would now be eligible for compensation under the Federal Government’s Volunteer Firefighters Compensation Package which would be administered under her government.
“We’re going to make sure this funding gets out the door as soon as possible,” the Premier said.
“This year’s bushfire season has been long and hard both in Queensland and interstate and many of our hardworking QFES volunteers have given up a considerable amount of personal time in battling these blazes,” the Premier said.
“It’s only fair those that have suffered a loss of income as a result, are fairly and quickly compensated.”
The Premier said eligible volunteers who had lost income after working more than ten calendar days of service from the 1 July 2019 to the 30 June 2020 would be able to apply for compensation.
“Volunteers step out on to the frontline without asking for or expecting compensation,” the Premier said.
“There are times when they miss out on income as a result of giving to others and this payment goes some way to recognising this.
“This is an acknowledgement of the prolonged bushfire season our emergency services have battled, and the trying conditions they have faced.
“I want them to know their hard work and sacrifices have made a real difference in communities across the state, and interstate, and I thank them for all that they have given Queenslanders.”
Acting Fire and Emergency Services Minister Leeanne Enoch said the payment was available to eligible Rural Fire Service (RFS) and State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers.
“Queenslanders rely on volunteers to protect our communities and this fire season these people have had to go over and above what they normally would in their roles,” Ms Enoch said.
“Volunteers sign up with the expectation of dedicating some of their time to protect the community but the length and severity of this fire season is beyond that expectation and now could be at significant personal expense.
“For this reason, this one-off compensation package has been made available to QFES volunteers who have lost income while volunteering on a fire ground or providing direct operational support for more than 10 calendar days between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020.”
The Volunteer Compensation Package 2019-20 will be available to volunteers who are self-employed or work for a business with an annual turnover of less than $50 million.
The package is funded by the Commonwealth Government under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements and administered for Queensland-resident volunteers by the Queensland Government.
The payments of up to $300 per person, per day (up to $6,000) will be tax-free and not means-tested, under criteria established by the Commonwealth Government.
Registrations of interest are open from today, with payments expected to occur from Monday 13 January 2020.
Volunteers will receive more information on how to access the payments directly from QFES, or they can visit www.qld.gov.au/VolunteerCompensation