Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Tsunami assistance for Australian families

The Howard Government will provide additional financial assistance to the families of Australians who died or remain missing as a result of the December 2004 Asian Tsunami.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today announced that financial assistance would be made available to eligible families who are managing the estates of deceased or missing Australians.

“This additional assistance recognises the difficulties faced by many bereaved families, who are not only grieving for lost loved ones, but also have to deal with the unexpected costs of managing estates,” Senator Patterson said.

“A non-means tested, non-taxable amount of up to $5,000 per estate is available to eligible Australian families to help with these costs.

“The Howard Government, through the Tsunami Recovery Assistance Package, has already provided a range of assistance to help Australians and their families who were affected by the Tsunami.

“The package includes assistance to eligible Australians for domestic travel within Australia to reunite family members; for funeral and associated costs; and help for people returning to Australia in exceptional circumstances.

“It also includes out of pocket costs, which cover a wide range of healthcare for survivors, as well as counselling and psychological care for members of their families,” Senator Patterson said.

Claims for assistance with estates under this further assistance must be lodged before 30 June 2006.

All other claims must be lodged before 31 December 2005.

Additional information on available assistance, contact details, fact sheets, media releases and related links is available on the website.

Families can also call the hotline 1800 057 111 (FreeCALLâ„¢), between 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday. The hotline provides information about all available assistance, including help with counselling and medical costs.

Families are advised to contact the Hotline in the first instance to determine if they are eligible for assistance.