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Free legal help for Victorian bushfire victims

Free legal help for Victorian bushfire victims

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Free legal assistance is available through Disaster Legal Help Victoria for anyone affected by the recent Victorian bushfires.

Disaster Legal Help Victoria is a collaboration between Victoria Legal Aid, the Federation of Community Legal Centres, the Law Institute of Victoria, the Victorian Bar and Justice Connect. It was originally formed in response to the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

The legal profession stands ready to help Victorian communities with their bushfire-related legal issues.

People can call the Disaster Legal Help Victoria phone line on 1800 113 432, available Monday to Friday, 8 am to 6 pm for free legal information, advice and referrals, or visit the website at www.disasterlegalhelp.org.au.

Acting Executive Director of Civil Justice, Access and Equity at Victoria Legal Aid, Joel Townsend, said legal problems people commonly face after a bushfire include the rejection of insurance claims, disputes with landlords about termination of leases and outstanding rent, and debt and other financial problems stemming from the loss of casual employment and the cost of dealing with the aftermath of disaster.

‘Recovering from a bushfire can be an incredibly emotional and stressful time, and on top of this legal problems can surface and escalate quickly,’ Mr Townsend said.  

‘The impact of these fires has been devastating and we understand it will take some time for people to work through the aftermath, with many fires still active and bushfire season continuing. Disaster Legal Help will be available over the coming weeks and months to help people get back on their feet.’

‘We will co-ordinate with the State Government’s Bushfire Response and Recovery Taskforce to provide in-person assistance at recovery centres and community meetings where needed.’

Disaster Legal Help can assist with issues including:

  • dealing with insurance claims
  • replacing lost or destroyed documents, including wills and title documents
  • tenancy and accommodation issues
  • managing debt and financial hardship.

‘If you’ve been affected by the Victorian fires and need help with a legal problem or are unsure about your next steps, please get in touch with Disaster Legal Help,’ Mr Townsend said.

‘Our lawyers can also refer you to specialist support services and pro bono services if we are not able to help in your situation.’

Media enquiries

Joel Townsend, Acting Executive Director of Civil Justice, Access and Equity, Victoria Legal Aid is available to be interviewed as a spokesperson for Disaster Legal Help Victoria.

For media enquiries, contact Amanda Bennett, Communications Advisor, Victoria Legal Aid on (03) 9280 3949 or 0400 845 148.