Free legal support for NSW Black Summer bushfire victims

Black Summer bushfire victims get access to $5 million in free legal support

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NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers fighting a fire at Charmhaven on the Central Coast on New Year's Eve. Picture: Selwyn Cox

NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers fighting a fire at Charmhaven on the Central Coast on New Year's Eve. Picture: Selwyn Cox

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Victims of the summer bushfires can get free legal support.

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Anyone facing legal troubles from the unprecedented summer bushfires can access free legal support through $5 million in federal funding.

Parts of the Hunter Valley were affected by the fires, but the region wasn't as badly hit as other parts of the state such as the South Coast, Snowy Mountains, Mid-North Coast and Southern Highlands.

The Gospers Mountain fire - which stretched from the Blue Mountains to the Hawkesbury to the Hunter - became the biggest forest fire in Australian history.

As huge areas of national park burnt, the Hunter was among areas badly affected by smoke pollution.

The fires have since been dubbed "Black Summer".

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the legal support would play "an important role in how well people, businesses and communities recover from disasters".

"Bushfires have devastated the homes, businesses and livelihoods of so many people across our regions and now anyone facing legal problems as a result will have access to more free legal support than ever before.

"Almost $3 million in funding will be directed to legal assistance services for individuals navigating insurance claims, tenancy issues, financial hardship, social security entitlements and other legal problems caused by the bushfires.

"A further $2 million will be invested in legal services for small businesses and primary producers."

This would allow Legal Aid NSW to launch a new grants program, enabling private lawyers to "access grants of aid to deliver free legal services to local businesses impacted by bushfires".

Attorney General Mark Speakman said the funding would boost the capacity of Legal Aid, Community Legal Centres and the Aboriginal Legal Service to support people in bushfire-affected areas across the state.

"This is great news for anyone whose livelihood has been torn apart by the bushfires," Mr Speakman said.

"More pro bono solicitors and legal assistance will be available for farmers and small businesses seeking assistance and advice on the financial issues they face, including credit, banking and debt."

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