Grieving families who have lost loved ones during recent major flood events have received charitable donations from the Red Cross in government-designated disaster areas – but thousands of applications for help remain outstanding.
The charity has made a total of 21 grants worth $20,000 each to next-of-kin of flood victims to date, and another 33,939 one-off $500 financial assistance grants for households in NSW and southeast Queensland.
The Red Cross’ Garry Page, acting director of Australian programs, said $17.4 million in charitable donations had been allocated so far. He explained the charity was close to approaching the point where available funds were fully subscribed, with 50,000 applications still to be processed.
“When this occurs, we will stop accepting new applications so we don’t have people applying for grants that aren’t available,” Page said.
“These grants are a result of extraordinary support for our March telethon hosted by broadcasters Nine, Seven and Ten, which raised more than $26 million.”
In a statement, the Red Cross confirmed 60 staff members had been processing applications around the clock over Easter. Page said a number of the total 50,000 applications were either incomplete, duplicate applications or made by people living in areas that were not declared disaster areas by the federal government.
“Applications with all the required documentation are being processed faster,” Page said.
“Assessing duplicate and incomplete applications is a longer process,” he added.
In March media reported complaints from flood victims about charities failing to adequately respond to communities in need, with advocates claiming local governments were doing a better job of stepping up.
The Red Cross said the financial grants program was part of its broader floods recovery support effort. The money was donated by members of the public involved in the Queensland and NSW floods telethon appeal supported by networks Nine, Seven and Ten.
Page advised those who had made applications for grants and were still awaiting a decision outcome, to check out the charity’s cash assistance dashboard for updates.
“Our message to people affected by the floods is to apply as soon as you can. Applications will be processed in the order they are submitted,” Page said.
“If you have already applied, then there’s no need to do anything unless you are asked for more information.”