Under the pro bono program, those eligible for assistance qualify if:
- they or an immediate family member have been seriously injured;
- their immediate family member has died;
- their principal place of residence has been destroyed or seriously damaged; or
- they operate a small business that has suffered serious damage to its premises, plant and/or equipment.
Impacted Australians will be matched with a financial planner, with the amount of assistance provided to be decided by the adviser based on their needs and their capacity to provide pro bono support.
Types of financial advice that would be needed by those affected by the bushfires could include:
- Accessing Centrelink payments and other government benefits;
- Considering claims on any of your existing assets or personal insurance;
- Debt management;
- Accessing superannuation (and/or accessing insurances within superannuation);
- Options for your existing investments and superannuation;
- Replacing lost income;
- Rebuilding financially and getting your future plans back on track; and
- Estate planning.
FPA chief executive Dante De Gori said that it is expected that those affected will face significant financial pressures requiring the support and expertise of a financial planner.
“To address this, we put a call out to financial planners to volunteer their professional expertise and time in the aftermath of the bushfires in early January and have been overwhelmed with the response we received from our members across Australia,” Mr De Gori said.
“Many of these planners live and work in the bushfire-affected areas and are deeply concerned about the wellbeing of their communities.
“The Financial Planning Bushfire Pro Bono Program is all about offering guidance to help individuals affected by the disaster to consider their options and recover financially from these traumatic events.”
AFA chief executive Philip Kewin said people impacted by fire are having to make financial decisions at an extremely emotional time, and for many, these decisions can be much less intimidating with the right guidance and support.
“Financial advisers are in a unique position to lend their support to these families and small business owners alike. Particularly during the stressful process of filing insurance claims, having to navigate digital self-service platforms can be overwhelming,” Mr Kewin said.
“Advisers offer an invaluable human touch and can provide tailored support appropriate to individuals’ circumstances.
“This no-cost service will help those in need to work out how they’ll manage the immediate impact of the fires on their finances, and plan for their future.”