Bushfire Legal Aid Scheme

The Commonwealth Government has provided funding for legal assistance to NSW primary producers and small businesses dealing with legal issues relating to the 2019/2020 bushfires. Under the Scheme, private lawyers will have access to funding to provide legal services.

How does the Scheme work?

If you are an eligible small business owner or primary producer, your solicitor can apply for funding of $2000 to assist you to resolve your legal matter arising from the 2019/20 bushfires, and up to $5000 for related expenses like expert reports. Additional funding is available in reasonable circumstances.

If you have more than one bushfire related legal problem your solicitor may receive separate funding for each problem.

The funding is available for legal issues including, but not limited to:

  • Insurance disputes
  • Commercial leases
  • Contract disputes
  • Planning and building law
  • Local Government disputes
  • Entitlements to government grants and schemes
  • Credit and debt
  • Banking
  • Fencing issues
  • Property law
  • Employment law issues for employers

To be eligible for funding under the scheme, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You are a primary producer or small business owner
  • Your business or farm is in one of the designated LGAs (See below).
  • You have a legal issue arising from the 2019/2020 bushfire season in one of these LGAs.
  • Your application must have merit. In assessing merit Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied that:
    • It is likely that the funding will resolve your dispute, and
    • You are committed to the early resolution of your dispute.

A primary producer is defined as an individual, trust or company carrying on a primary production business alone, or in partnership. It includes:

  • Plant or animal cultivation (or both)
  • Fishing or pearling (or both)
  • Tree farming or felling (or both)

A small business owner is defined as a person who runs a business with 19 or fewer employees.

No means test applies to the application. This means we will not look at your financial situation to determine if you are eligible for funding.

The Local Government Areas (LGAs) covered by the scheme are: Armidale, Ballina, Bega Valley, Bellingen, Blue Mountains, Byron, Central Coast, Cessnock, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Eurobodalla, Glenn Innes Severn, Hawkesbury, Inverell, Kempsey, Kyogle, Lismore, Lithgow, Mid-Coast, Mid-Western, Nambucca, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Queanbeyan-Palerang, Richmond Valley, Shoalhaven, Singleton, Snowy Monaro, Snowy Valleys, Tenterfield, Tweed, Walcha, Wingecarribee, Wollondilly.

For information on how to apply, contact your local solicitor, call the Legal Aid NSW Disaster Response Legal Service on 1800 801 529 or email disaster.response@legalaid.nsw.gov.au.

Financial Rights Legal Centre

Financial Rights Legal Centre is a community legal centre specialising in insurance and financial services. They provide advice, minor assistance and representation services.

They can assist consumers, farmers, primary producers and small businesses impacted by natural disasters, including COVID19, bushfire, hail, storm and drought.

Insurance relates issues:

Call 1300 663 464 (press 1 for disaster) or online

Credit and Debt related issues:

Call 1800 844 949 or online

Justice Connect

Justice Connect is a legal services organisation that designs and delivers high impact interventions to increase access to legal support and progress social justice.

Justice Connect is supporting bushfire affected small businesses, farms and not-for-profit organisations by connecting them to its network of 10,000 pro bono lawyers.

You can apply for free legal help from a pro bono lawyer on Justice Connect’s website.

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