Natural disaster payments

The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP) is a lump sum payment to help if someone has been significantly affected by a disaster in a declared Local Government Area (LGA).

Disaster Recovery Allowance (DRA) is a short term payment to help you if a disaster directly affects your income in a declared LGA.

There’s versions of both DRP and DRA for New Zealanders adversely affected by this emergency event.

More Local Government Areas (LGAs) may be declared eligible for these payments in the coming days. For up-to-date information, visit

Please find attached two factsheets for AGRDP and DRA that can be provided to customers and community groups.

Food and Housing

Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW

The Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) is the NSW government approved dispute resolution scheme for electricity, gas, and some water customers. Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON).

EWON’s services are free to customers and their advocates. We are independent, that is, neither an industry or consumer advocate. We investigate and resolve complaints based on laws, codes and regulations, and good industry practice to achieve fair and reasonable outcomes.

In addition to complaints management, EWON identifies, investigates, and resolves systemic issues arising from complaints and, as a result, influences government and regulator policy development through engagement and formal submissions. We also have an extensive community outreach program and conduct other awareness raising activities

These activities help us educate consumers, their advocates and community workers about energy and water issues, such as rebates, changing retailers, saving energy, payment plans and their rights and responsibilities. They also provide us with an opportunity to learn about the issues affecting consumers firsthand.

We are currently offering virtual information sessions about energy and water, which cover support available for those experiencing financial difficulties and other issues generally or in relation to the COVID-19 situation.

Please let me know if a tailored information session would be helpful for your organisation

  • How EWON can help
  • What rebates and concessions that your clients may be entitled to?
  • How to shop for the best price or change retailers
  • How to be energy efficient
  • What are your responsibilities and what are the energy providers responsibilities?
  • Where to go for help or advice (EWON).

If your organisation produces a newsletter, we have developed a series of basic energy and water articles to assist consumers understand their rights and what to do if they are having difficulties with their energy and (some) water retailers.

The articles are written in a basic easy to understand format and cover high and estimated billing, payment issues, where to go for help and energy and water savings and much more etc.

If you would like these articles sent to you each month for your newsletter, please respond to this email and we will facilitate this.

In addition, you can subscribe to our newsletters or order publications from this link Publications and submissions (

Julie Bye | Community Engagement & Investigations Officer

Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW

0448 106 682

Food and Housing

Food Fairness Illawarra

We each have a role to play when it comes to our food: the food we choose and the way we consume it affect our health and that of our planet. From local food businesses to government, farmers, food waste fighters, academia and consumers of all ages.

As a community, we need to come together to transform our food system!

Since 2016, we have come together to celebrate Fair Food Week and World Food Day at our annual Connecting over Fair Food event.

While we have had to postpone this amazing community building event from October to 18th February 2022, we are inviting each and every one of you to virtually share with us your connection to fair food!


I have been invited to share my connection to fair food to celebrate #WorldFood Day and #Fair FoodWeek with @Food Fairness Illawarra.

My ….. (connection to Fair Food > think fair, local and sustainable e.g. your community garden, you and your veggie patch, cooking, dinner with the household, your favourite local producer or produce)

I am inviting @…, @…. and @… to share their connection to food!
#connectingoverfairfood #foodfairness 


All entries will go into the draw for one of the six $50 vouchers to your favourite local producer or food business (e.g. Pines Gelato, My Pantry Store, Green Connect, Darkes Forest or Flametree Community Food Co-Op)

Winners will be drawn on World Food Day, 16 October 2021, so keep an eye on our socials!

Food and Housing | COVID | Employment and Training

Since the beginning of the lockdown in Sydney, community service organisations have reported a huge surge in demand from people experiencing financial distress. While the Federal Government has extended support to some through the Covid Disaster Payment, most people struggling to get by on the lowest incomes have been excluded. People receiving income support cannot get disaster payments if they didn’t lose paid work because of the lockdown. At the same time, they cannot get paid work because of the lockdown. People are trapped in poverty as a result. 

Community organisations are doing all they can to help. But we urgently need to lift income support payments so people on the lowest incomes are not trapped in poverty. That’s why the Australian Council of Social Service, the NSW Council of Social Service and the City of Sydney are hosting an online forum about the impact of lockdowns on people on the lowest incomes. 

The speakers will include:

  • Uncle Allan Murray, Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council – Welcome to Country
  • Ms Katherine McKernan, CEO, Homelessness NSW
  • Ms Ashlee Donohue, Mudgin-Gal Aboriginal Women’s Centre
  • Ms Frances Rush OAM, CEO, Asylum Seekers’ Centre
  • Michael Shreenan, Executive Officer, Counterpoint Community Services

Personal experiences from community members will also be shared.

Register now to Join us for this important discussion. 

Date: Wednesday 1 September 2021 

Time: 12:30pm to 2:30pm

See more information and RSVP on EventBrite

Food and Housing

Below some of the key actions that have been taken by Food Fairness Illawarra and partners to support our communities during the current Covid19 response:

COVID19 update – Low Cost & Free Meal Directory
Our region is blessed with many forms of emergency food relief during these difficult times – from breakfast programs, to community kitchens that provide daily meals for homeless or disadvantaged community members. The low cost and free meals directory is there to help those who are in need to find a local service providing low cost and no cost meals. This resource has been updated on 16th August >> Link  *** This is a new page on our website instead of a direct PDF link, to allow for future updates without change of link.  

Opportunity for collective action: Thanks to include the directory on your website (where possible) and distribute amongst your networks.

Foodbank emergency food hampers   

Thanks to Adam from Food Bank to go above and beyond to make 6 pallets of emergency food hampers available for the Illawarra. These hampers are part of the NSW Government funding in response to the impacts of lockdown on residents and/or those who are having to isolate from exposure to Covid19. They are locally distributed:

For Wollongong residents by Wollongong City Council in partnership with Green Connect using a nominate someone in need approach. Nominate someone in need

For Shellharbour residents by Shellharbour City Council. After two successful collection days last week, the next collection day will be on Wednesday 18 August from 10am-12pm  at the Civic Centre (Cygnet Ave). This video shows an example of what’s inside the box.

Team work makes dreamwork

OzHarvest continues to deliver rescued food from local supermarkets to supply to our local food relief providers and currently increasing this supply with basic supplements in response to the increased demand for food support. In addition, Foodbank supplied OzHavrest with an additional 800 frozen meals for distribution in the Illawarra. #StrongerTogether

Green Connect launches GET ONE, GIVE ONE meal packs

Green Connect have teamed up with the chef and her team at Merrigong Theatre Company to home deliver delicious meals to the local community during lockdown. For every meal purchased, an additional meal will be delivered to a family in need. Meals will be home delivered to Wollongong and Shellharbour residents (between Coledale and Shell Cove). Delivery date listed on menu item. Buy a meal pack

Spread the word

If there’s anyone who would benefit from this email update, please forward this email and send me their contact details for inclusion into the distribution list.

‘Crises are difficult and disruptive, but they can also spark major changes. Let our collective reaction be one that supports the transition to a better and more resilient food system’.

Food and Housing

Did you know at any given time, approximately 21,600 Illawarra residents face food insecurity, meaning they are not able to access food that meets their health and cultural needs? Meanwhile, tonnes of edible food end up in landfill every week.


Food Fairness Illawarra is calling all (food) businesses of the Illawarra to start donating their surplus food to one of the local food rescue and relief organisations. 

Saving quality excess food will not only save the environment and reduce waste disposal costs, but greatly assist the people in our community that need it!

How you can help:

Food and Housing

Bushfire Housing Assistance – Southern NSW and South Coast

The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) has now transitioned bushfire housing assistance in Illawarra Shoalhaven and Southern NSW to our local Housing team, and the dedicated Bushfire Housing Assistance Response Team (BHART) has finished up, having assisted over 350 households since January. Those clients needing continuing assistance or support have been handed over to DCJ District Housing staff or a Bushfire Recovery Support Service.

Policies and housing products and services for bushfire-impacted clients remain unchanged, as does their access to support through DCJ and other bushfire recovery services. Referral pathways for housing assistance via Service NSW, the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line, the Housing Contact Centre, Local Housing Offices and mailbox remain unchanged for clients and service providers in Southern NSW and the South Coast.

The key number for referrals for housing assistance is the Housing Contact Centre 1800 422 322 or via your local  DCJ Housing or Southern Cross Housing office.