Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Fast tracked assistance to Australians affected by disaster

The Howard Government will put in place new streamlined arrangements to provide rapid assistance to Australians directly affected by disasters in Australia or overseas.

In the light of recent disasters, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today announced her intentions to develop improved arrangements to deliver recovery assistance as fast as possible to those who need help.

“Australia’s response to events such as the Indian Ocean Tsunami and the Bali and London bombings showed great co-operation across government departments and having formally agreed plans in place will further enhance that responsiveness,” Senator Patterson said.

“I will also introduce a bill next year to amend the social security laws to introduce a new Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment.

“The payment will become one of a set of options available to the Government when determining what assistance would best meet the needs and the circumstances of people affected by a disaster.

“The Howard Government’s assistance following a disaster is meant to complement, not replace, personal travel and other insurance and I encourage people to make sure they have adequate insurance, particularly before they travel.

“Improved arrangements to support people who are affected by disasters will mean that people have all necessary assistance when they really need it,” Senator Patterson said.