Floods, bushfires, and storms: how to get help and give support after a natural disaster

Vounteer working in relief centre

Blanche Clark

Posted October 18, 2022

Knowing where to get practical, financial, and emotional support after a natual disaster is critical for recovery. For those willing to lend a hand, knowing how best to help is just as important.

Natural disasters such as floods, bushfires and storms can present multiple challenges for people across affected communities.

For those affected by a natural disaster, it’s important to know where to get support, both during the crisis and in the weeks and months that follow. Recovery can take time and strong support networks make a difference.

There are also ways you can help people affected by a natural disaster. Donating to a registered charity that is directly involved in supporting those communities affected by the current situation is the most practical way. Rather than donate food and clothes yourself, it’s best to support those charities that can assess and provide the right assistance at the right time.

Below is a practical guide to where to get help during a natural disaster, followed by how to give help.

A magpie swooping next to a road

State Emergency Services are among the many agencies that assist during a natural disaster.  Photo: Getty

How to get support after a natural disaster

Flood Recovery Hotline

Victorians impacted by the October 2022 floods can call the Flood Recovery Hotline for help or assistance with navigating available supports and mental health and wellbeing support.

Call 1800 560 760 between 7.30am-7.30pm daily.

Victorian Emergency relief assistance payment

The Emergency relief assistance payment is available to assist individuals and communities experiencing hardship after a natural disaster, such as a bushfire, flood, severe storm or earthquake. The one-off payment is for immediate and essential needs, such as emergency shelter, food, clothing or personal items.

Financial support

The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP) is a lump-sum payment that’s available to those affected by a natural disaster, such as the Victorian floods in October 2022.

The payment is not for minor damage or inconvenience but rather for assistance if you’ve suffered major damage to your property or other assets. The terms and conditions are outlined on the government website.

Those affected by a natural disaster may also eligible, for the Disaster Recovery Allowance, which is a short-term payment if a natural disaster directly affects your income.

Non-life-threatening emergency assistance

If you require emergency assistance during a natural disaster, you can contact your state emergency services. Demand on the SES can be overwhelming during a crisis and jobs are logged and prioritised. Reasons to call the SES include extensive damage to your home or that a fallen tree is preventing you from entering or leaving your property. If the situation is life threatening, always call Triple Zero (000).

Victoria State Emergency Services, call 132 500

NSW Emergency Service call 132 500

For rapid response and 24-hour assistance from accredited plumbers, electricians and locksmiths for common home repair emergencies call RACV Emergency Home Assist on 1300 638 108. Most of the time, RACV Emergency Home Assist fix the problem on the spot, or might use temporary measures to make the area safe.


Road closed due to flooding

People affected by natural disasters often feel isolated and require ongoing support. Photo: Getty.

Mental health and wellbeing support

People have varied physical and/or emotional reactions after a natural disaster. For some, it may feel overwhelming and become difficult to cope. Some people feel stressed, anxious and exhausted, while others may feel numb and withdrawn. It’s not uncommon to have sleep disturbances.


Lifeline provides confidential crisis support 24 hours a day. If you have been impacted by a natural disaster and are experiencing emotional distress, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or text 0477 13 11 14.

Beyond Blue

People may be at risk of developing anxiety or depression after experiencing a natural disaster. Beyond Blue has a guide on how to look after your mental health following a disaster. You can also call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 for support.

Local community support

Local councils provide extensive support during natural disasters, especially with emergency response and recovery. For contact details and information about each Victorian council or to find your local council, visit knowyourcouncil.vic.gov.au.

Lions Clubs

The Australian Lions Foundation provides direct financial support to individuals and organisations, through Lions Clubs in local areas, for those affected by natural disasters such as fires, floods, cyclone and drought. Local volunteers also provide practical support, such as food and clean water, to their community during a disaster.


Houses flooded after storm

Governement and non-government agencies provide support for those affected by floods. Image: Getty

Helping Victorian communities affected by natural disasters


GIVIT is a not-for-profit donation platform that matches the needs of Australia’s most vulnerable people with donors from across the country. GIVIT advises not to send unrequested donations to impacted areas, as this hinders rather than helps recovery efforts. 

GIVIT captures all donation offers online, where you can see and give exactly what's needed. This may include essential items and services such as clothing, toiletries, mobile phones, groceries, school supplies, furniture, and household goods. 


Foodbank plays a role in times of emergency and natural disasters such as fires, floods and cyclones. The organisation can deliver exactly what is needed to support the relief efforts. Immediate support to affected communities can include bottled water, batteries, toilet paper and food that doesn’t require refrigeration and cooking when there is no power in the area. In the long term, this can change to providing ingredients for hot meals to be prepared at evacuation centres.

Red Cross

Red Cross supports communities and manages disaster recovery programs in areas affected by floods, cyclones and disasters. The organisation also works alongside communities to help them strengthen their disaster resilience. Red Cross launches appeals for specific disasters, or you can make a one-off donation or donate regularly to support the organisation’s work more broadly.


If you or someone you know feels overwhelmed or in need of support,
please contact  Lifeline  on 13 11 14 at any time.