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What to do after a natural disaster

How to manage after a bushfire, storm or flood

Page reading time: 3 minutes

Follow these steps to find help and begin your recovery from a natural disaster. 

Listen to the advice of emergency services about accessing your property and surrounding areas. If it's not safe, do not try to enter. 

Find emergency and crisis support

There may be Government payments if you've been affected by a natural disaster. 

Your state or territory government can also help you find support during and after a natural disaster.

Australian Capital Territory

Northern Territory


South Australia




Check your insurance cover

Deal directly with your insurer or the insurance broker you organised your insurance through. They'll check what your policy covers and help you make a claim.

If you need emergency accommodation, ask your insurer if they can help you.

If you have lost your insurance details, call the Insurance Hotline on 1800 734 621.

Assess the damage to your property

Only when it's safe to do so, assess the damage to your property. Check for any dangers, for example, asbestos or unsafe electrical wiring and equipment. Always avoid floodwaters.

Take photos or videos of all the damage. Include as much detail as possible.

Take safe and reasonable steps to prevent any further damage to your property and belongings. For example, covering damaged roofs to prevent further water damage.

Check with your insurer before making any repairs to your property. Your insurer may need to authorise repairs and tradespeople before they happen.

Government clean-up programs

Find out what services you can get for free, before paying for the clean-up yourself. The cost of cleaning up may be covered by your state or territory government.

Start your insurance claim

See How to make a home insurance claim for the steps to lodge a claim with your insurer. 

Contact your bank or lender

Let your lender know you have been impacted by a natural disaster. Their financial hardship teams will have a range of ways they can help you. If you're finding it hard to make loan or credit card repayments, ask your bank or lender for a hardship variation.

Financial hardship team contact details are on the Australian Banking Association or the Customer Owned Banking Association websites.

Watch out for scammers

Be careful of anyone who door knocks, calls you out of the blue, or leaves leaflets in your letterbox. 

Watch out for anyone who:

Take the time you need to make good decisions you won't regret.

If you encounter a scammer, fake tradesperson or repairer, report it to Scamwatch.

Talk to someone for advice and help

Talk to someone qualified and experienced about your situation. They can explain the options available to support you.

Talk about your emotional health

Making financial decisions, particularly after a natural disaster, can be overwhelming. The emotional impact can be significant, especially if the recovery process is long. Speak to:

Speak to a free financial counsellor

Financial counselling is free, independent and confidential. A financial counsellor can help you make a plan to manage your money and prioritise your bills and other payments.

A financial counsellor can also talk to creditors on your behalf and negotiate affordable payment plans. The earlier you get help, the more options you'll have.

National Debt Helpline — 1800 007 007

The free National Debt Helpline is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.

When you call, you'll be transferred to the service in your state. 

Mob Strong Debt Helpline - 1800 808 488

Mob Strong Debt Helpline is a free service about money matters for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from anywhere in Australia.

The Helpline is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.

Get free legal advice

You can access free legal advice and support if you need it:

  • Insurance Law Service 1300 663 464
  • WA — Legal Aid 1300 650 579
  • NSW — Disaster Response Hotline 1800 801 529
  • Victoria — Disaster Legal Help 1800 113 432
  • Queensland — Natural Disaster Legal Helpline 1300 527 700