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Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson MP, is encouraging local volunteer firefighters to apply for compensation through the recently available Volunteer Firefighter Payment Scheme.

“Compensation is now available to volunteer firefighters who have lost income while battling blazes across NSW. I would encourage every local RFS and SES firefighter, who is out of pocket as a consequence of the bushfires to apply,” Ms Watson said.

“Firefighters have been so heavily relied on and called upon in our state over recent months, and we need to help them recover financially, as well as emotionally and physically,” said Ms Watson.

The Volunteer Firefighter Payment was announced in late December after public pressure mounted on both the Premier and the Prime Minister who had avoided the matter for as long as possible. Firefighters have only been able to apply for financial support since mid-January.

While she is pleased that financial recovery for RFS and SES volunteers can commence, Ms Watson said the compensation scheme hasn’t met her expectations.

“This scheme needed to be rolled out a month earlier than it was, the eligibility criteria and the paperwork are unnecessarily complicated, the SES were excluded until recently, and the cap of $6,000 is ridiculous – it is the equivalent of about 20 days fighting fires and these fires have been burning since September” Ms Watson said.

Ms Watson has suggested that any firefighter who is ineligible for the Scheme but is out of pocket should get into contact with her office so she can make representations to the Minister.

For more information and to apply for the Volunteer Firefighter Payment, volunteer firefighters are encouraged to visit: https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/apply-volunteer-firefighter-payment

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