Crisis, disaster and recovery assistance

Please reach out to Council with important information

When natural disasters and emergencies happen Cessnock City Council relies on the community for valuable information to help Council respond.

This is why we have created a new email account,, through which members of the community can reach out with important information.

If you have information about access, safety, or any urgent information you think the Council should know, please use the address to reach out.

Disaster assistance contact information

Birth, deaths, marriage certificates and drivers licences

Service NSW 137 788
Service NSW may replace certificates and drivers licences at no cost to those affected by a disaster.

Business assistance

Services Australia (Centrelink)
Services Australia can provide information about available subsidies and financial support available for your business. 

Australian Tax Office 
The Australian Tax Office can provide information about available subsidies and financial support if you or your family is affected financially by disaster.

Rural Assistance Authority - The Rural Assistance Authority will provide concessional rate loans to business who meet the eligibility criteria.

Business Connect - 1300 134 359
This organisation provides practical face-to-face support, tailored to individual business needs. 

Service NSW Business Concierge - 0448 249 120 
Personalised, ongoing support for small businesses impacted by bushfires, drought and more. Help to identify and understand the information on the Service NSW website and support available to you, including financial support and how to adapt to meet changing regulatory requirements.

Child protection

Child Protection Helpline - 13 12 11
to report a child at risk of harm and neglect

Kids Helpline - 1800 55 1800
Kids Helpline provides free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.

Counselling services

FREE Local Cessnock LGA mental health support. No referrals required.

Face to face at Wollombi/Cessnock. Telephone available. 
Call 1300 152 854 to make an appointment. Available fortnightly.

Hunter New England Health/Farm Gate Counselling
Face-to-face and phone counselling. 
0477 322 581 to make an appointment.

Rural Aid
Rural Counsellor. Face-to-face and phone counselling. 
Call 0499 527 327 to make an appointment.

Hunter Primary Care
Face-to-face services available at Cessnock, Maitland, Warabrook, Singleton and Kurri.
Telehealth or video consultations also available. 
Call 02 4935 3039 to make an appointment.

Reflex Social Services
Face-to-face or phone counselling. 
Call 0403 258 618 to make an appointment or book online at

Financial assistance

Service NSW
Service NSW provides financial assistance for those impacted by disaster. These include:

  • Disaster assistance to those with limited financial resources and no insurance.
  • Eligible individuals and families whose homes have been significantly damaged or destroyed can apply for disaster relief grants.
  • If you're having difficulty paying your household energy bill because of a short-term financial crisis brought on by disaster, you could also be eligible for an EAPA $50 voucher under the Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) Scheme
  • Seniors Energy Rebate is also available to help cover the cost of electricity for Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders. 
  • Find out about the residential tenancy support package.

Council rates relief 
Residents experiencing financial hardship can contact Council to check their eligibility for a rates payment plan. Phone our Customer Service team on (02) 4993 4100 and someone from our Rates team will call you back by the next business day. For more information, please read our Hardship Policy(PDF, 289KB) or visit our Paying your rates page

Services Australia (Centrelink)
Services Australia can provide information about available subsidies and financial support if you or your family have been impacted by a disaster. This includes:

NSW Rural Assistance Authority 

If you are unable to obtain assistance through other channels, you can apply to the NSW Rural Assistance Authority for assistance with with concessional rate loans.

Farm Household Support
The Federal Government's Department of Human Services provides assistance to eligible farmers and their families facing financial difficulties through the Farm Household Allowance.

Energy & Water Ombudsman 
The Energy & Water Ombudsman can provide support for customers impacted by COVID-19. 

Service NSW Support Service Specialist (SSS)
Service NSW can help you with enquiries about support available through Service NSW, including the Cost of Living Program, which looks at where savings can be made across many different service providers including electricity, gas, telephone, insurance, discounts, etc. Phone 13 77 88

Personal Financial Counselling 
If you are having trouble paying bills, finding it hard to manage money, need help with debt. Phone 0437 368 967 to make an appointment.

Health and wellbeing

NSW Rural Mental Health Services - 1800 201 123
Contact this organisation if you require access to mental health services and support. 

Mental Health Line - 1800 011 511
For assessment and referral to mental health services.

Domestic Violence Line - 1800 656 463
Provides counselling and referral services for women experiencing domestic violence. 

Mensline Australia - 1300 789 978
Telephone and online counselling, information and referral service for men (24h)

Suicide Call Back Service - 1300 659 467
Telephone and online support service for those at risk of suicide

Australian Red Cross - 1800 812 028
Red Cross can provide personal support if you or your family have been affected by a disaster. 

Salvation Army - 1300 363 622
The Salvos can provide mental health support and assistance if you or your family have been affected by a disaster.

Headspace Maitland - 02 4931 1000
Headspace centres act as a one-stop shop for young people who need help with mental and physical health, alcohol and other drugs or work and study support. 

Lifeline - 13 11 14
Lifeline provides free, 24-hour telephone crisis support services. 

Police Assistance Line - 131 444
Contact the Police Assistance Line if you are a victim of a crime, other than life threatening or time critical emergency situations.

Disability Information Helpline - 1800 643 787
Provides information and referrals for people with disability who need help during COVID-19. 

TIS - 131 450
Provides access to phone and on-site interpreting services in over 150 languages

1800 RESPECT 24/7 - 1800 737 732
24-hour phone and online service providing confidential sexual assault and domestic & family violence counselling, information & referrals.

QLife - 1800 184 527
Australia-wide anonymous and free LGBTI peer support for people wanting to talk about sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships. Call or webchat 3pm-12am. 

Aboriginal DFV Hotline - 1800 019 123 
24-hour phone service for Aboriginal victims of crime. 

NSW Rape Crisis 1800 424 017 or TTY - (02) 9181 43 49
24-hour phone and online counselling service for anyone who is at risk of or has experienced sexual assault, family or domestic violence.


Compass Housing - Homelessness Access Program - 1800 718 207
Provides accommodation to assist those sleeping rough or experiencing homelessness to self-isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Communities and Justice NSW, Housing Contact Centre - 1800 422 322 
Department of Communities and Justice - Housing (DCJ Housing) provides a range of housing solutions for both the private rental market and Public Housing, Community Housing and Aboriginal Housing.

Link2home (Department of Family and Community Services) - 1800 152 152
Link2home provides assistance to people who are homeless or at risk of being homelessness by offering access to specialised support and accommodation services. 

Carrie’s Place - 02 4934 2585 (office hours) or 02 4933 1960 (after hours)
Carrie’s Place provides domestic violence and homelessness services.

Hunter Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service Advice line - 02 4969 7666 or 1800 654 504

NSW Fair Trading - 13 32 20
Residential Tenancy Support package applies to eligible COVID-19 impacted tenants and landlords. It includes a freeze on evictions and assistance for landlords who reduce rent. Visit the website

Sanctuary Place - 0401 020 400
Sanctuary Place provides safe, secure and dignified long and short term housing. Helping every Australian to have the security of a safe house to come home to, no matter their circumstance.

Legal and consumer services

Legal Aid - 1300 888 529 or 02 4993 3400
Legal Aid can provide free legal advice on a broad range of issues including dealing with insurance companies,mortgage payments and tenancy advice. The service also visits the Cessnock Samaritans Information Neighbourhood Centre. 

Hunter Community Legal Centre - 02 4040 9120 
Provides free legal support in domestic violence, family law, credit and debt, traffic, fines and more.

NSW Fair Trading - 13 32 20 
Provides assistance and advice to consumers and business on fair and ethical practice. 

Law Access - 1300 888 529
Law Access NSW is a free telephone service that provides information for legal problems and contact details for services that might be able to assist.

Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services - 1800 938 227 
Information, advocacy and referrals to assist women and their children who are or have been experiencing domestic and family violence, with their legal, social and welfare needs.


Livestock and animals

Department of Primary Industries (DPI) 1800 814 647
The Department of Primary Industries provides assistance with livestock and other animals during a disaster. DPI can provide emergency fodder for livestock, veterinary assessment & advice, Euthanasia and burial for animals. 

Report damage to primary production & animals, including stock, fodder, fencing & other farm infrastructure, as a result of natural disasters, via the DPI Damage Survey.

Local Land Services (LLS) - 1300 795 299
LLS are available for any enquiries related to the safety of animals during or after an emergency.

Local food, utilities and clothing

Cessnock Samaritans Information & Neighbourhood Centre - 02 4993 3400
124 Vincent Street, Cessnock
Emergency Relief Service provides short term emergency financial assistance including food and utilities vouchers. An assessment is required to determine eligibility. 

Kurri Kurri Community Centre - 02 4937 4555
251 Lang St Kurri Kurri
Low cost food and household goods available for pension/benefit card holders. Emergency food relief may also be available.  

Salvation Army - 1300 371 288
The Salvo's can provide short term emergency assistance such as food items. Call for assessment.

Food War Inc. Cessnock - (02) 4966 2987
137 Vincent Street, Cessnock.
Low cost groceries for pension/benefit card holders. Open 9:30am to 3pm, Tuesday to Friday. 

Foodcare Weston - 0481 102 632
53 Station Street, Weston. 
Low cost groceries for pension/benefit card holders.

Soupz On 
Baptist Church Hall, Corner King and Cooper Street, Cessnock.
Free meals available Friday/Saturday/Monday nights from 5- 8pm  Check Facebook group to stay up-to-date. 

Youth Off The Streets - 0477 389 170 
Food relief available 2 days per week

Northern Coalfields Community Care Association - (02) 4019 9700
Meals on wheels and home care support services. 

Rotary Club of Cessnock
Marthaville Arts and Cultural Centre, 200 Wollombi Road, Cessnock
Free scones, tea and chat available for people in need. Fridays, 10am to 12pm.

BBQ lunch in the park
Cumberland Street car park, at the rear of Alira House, 116 Vincent Street, Cessnock. 
Free BBQ lunch available Wednesdays 10am to 12pm  

Hunter Food Relief
Cessnock Bellbird Uniting Church – Corner Cooper and Cumberland St Cessnock. 
Tuesday 9am to 1pm Wednesday 2.30 to 3.30pm Thursday 12pm to 3pm. Free meals, food, groceries and social support available for people in need. 


Lower Hunter Transport Services
Subsidised door to door transport for people and carers who find it difficult to use mainstream services due to frailty, age, functional disability and for people with no access to a private car or unable to use public transport. For more information contact 4017 9750 or

WorkCover licences

WorkCover NSW 13 10 50
WorkCover may replace licences at no cost to those affected by a disaster.

Disaster recovery information

Returning to your property safely after a bushfire

Road Access, Assessments & Repairs

All roads across the impacted area are currently open. Council will update Live Traffic NSW. For up to-date roads information, visit to view road access and any repair works.

Water Contamination

Rainwater may be contaminated by debris, dead birds or animals, fire retardants, or large amounts of ash. The water may also be contaminated if the tank, internal lining or plumbing was damaged. The presence of ash and debris in rainwater is unlikely to be a health risk but could affect the appearance and taste. Fire retardants currently used in Australia are of low toxicity but may also affect the appearance and taste of rainwater. If you are concerned that your rainwater tastes, looks or smells unusual, or you suspect your rainwater has been contaminated, an alternative safe water supply should be used for human or animal consumption. If you need to bring in water, it is important you use an accredited water carter. If the water was used for firefighting by the NSW Rural Fire Service, reimbursement can be sought from Service NSW at 13 77 88. Further information is available here.

Damage to Wastewater Systems

Cessnock Bushfire Recovery Information Sheet NSW Reconstruction Authority On-site wastewater systems, such as septic tanks and aerated wastewater treatment systems (AWTS), and their land application systems, for example sprinklers and below ground drippers, can be easily damaged during a bushfire. Avoid driving or walking near a fire-affected system until it is assessed by a licensed plumber or service technician familiar with on-site wastewater systems. Cessnock City Council is assessing wastewater systems on affected properties. Further advice will be provided on scheduling inspections soon. More information on managing wastewater can be accessed here.

Firefighting & Water Replacement

During bush fire emergencies, firefighters may need to draw water from private properties as they work to protect life and property by suppressing the fire. Under certain circumstances, such as during a prolonged drought, this water may be replaced by the NSW RFS in consultation with the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) as the Agriculture and Animal Services Functional Area under the NSW Government’s Disaster Assistance Scheme. More information on criteria can be found here.

Clean-up of waste & debris after a bushfire

Trees & Vegetation on Private Property

For impacted properties, small amounts of felled trees and burnt vegetation can be disposed of at your local waste facility. Please contact Cessnock City Council on 02 4993 4100 for information on what supports Council are able to provide. Contact Service NSW on 13 77 88 if you need help with waste clean-up and disposal, as eligibility criteria applies.

Treated Timber

Copper chrome arsenate (CCA) is a wood preservative used to protect wood from rotting, fungi and insects. Burnt CCA-treated timber will contain arsenic. The SafeWork NSW provides information on safe disposal of CCA-treated timber and ash and steps you can take to protect your health.

Freshly treated CCA-timber can be identified by its yellow/greenish colour which fades to grey over time. It is not always easy to identify if a product is CCA-treated timber and if in doubt it is important to treat the timber as if it does contain CCA.

Small amounts of CCA-treated timber ash can be placed in a sealed plastic bag and disposed of at your local waste facility. Larger amounts of CCA-timber ash can be disposed of at the nearest suitable landfill. Please contact Cessnock City Council on 02 4993 4100 for information. Ash must be double bagged and sealed to ensure it’s contained during transport and handling. Do not put CCA-timber or ash in your garden organics bin.

Visit this website for more information.

Hazardous Materials & Asbestos

Buildings and other structures damaged in a bushfire leave health and safety hazards in the remaining debris and ash. If a fire-damaged building was built before 1990, it is likely to contain asbestos.

A fire damaged asbestos building does not generate significant levels of asbestos fibers in the air unless it is disturbed. Although it is generally low risk to walk around or nearby asbestos damaged buildings, risks can increase when the material is disturbed.

The site will need to be continually damped down so as not to cause dust or be sprayed with polyvinyl acetate (PVA), or a similar sealant, to reduce the risk of the asbestos fibers becoming airborne (further reapplication requirements need to be monitored). This needs to continue until the site is cleaned up. Dust suppression should not be so great that it causes runoff into nearby drains and waterways.

It is advisable you do not do any clean-up of asbestos yourself. Asbestos will be removed by a licensed asbestos removalist, who will ensure work is carried out safely.

All bushfire generated waste that contains asbestos must only be handled by appropriately trained people and disposed of at a landfill that can lawfully receive this type of waste. The nearest suitable landfill can be located by contacting Cessnock City Council on 02 4993 4100.

For more information on asbestos management, visit the SafeWork website here.

Damaged Buildings or Structures

If you have damaged structures on your property and are insured, check with your provider about support for clean-up. At this stage, non-or under-insured properties will be required to self-manage structural clean-ups and disposals.

Clean-up & replacement of fencing

Impact assessments are being completed and reviewed to determine the need for fencing clean-up, disposal and replacement. Once this work is complete, information will be provided on support for fence replacement. Fire-impacted fencing (free of dirt/vegetation) may be taken. The nearest suitable landfill can be located by contacting Cessnock City Council on 02 4993 4100.

Support for farmers

Rural Aid

Rural Aid was originally formed to provide farmers with hay through the Buy A Bale program. Rural Aid has now grown to incorporate:

Disaster Assistance: Respond & Recover, which includes:

  • Wellbeing & Counselling
  • Financial Assistance
  • Domestic Drinking Water & Domestic Water Tanks
  • Fodder
  • Farm Army (
  • Other support – as identified

Rural Aid is here to help farmers throughout the year and this includes in times of national, state or local storms and disasters. Rural Aid can provide support with confidential counselling, fodder, domestic water, financial assistance and also by providing access to volunteers through The Farm Army.

Registered farmers also have access to our counselling intake line - 1300 175 594. This phone line is staffed by a Rural Aid counsellor between 9am and 5pm AEST, Monday to Friday. Farmers can call to have a chat and the team will work to connect them with an appropriate team member to assist them.

Visit or call 1300327624 to register with Rural Aid. 

Disaster readiness - Mental Health resources

Mental Health Support

Face to face counselling (Cessnock) and telephone counselling – Lifeline. Phone 1300 152 854 to make an appointment with a counsellor available fortnightly.

Face to face or phone counselling with Farm Gate Counselling – Hunter New England Health. Phone 0477 322 581 to arrange either face to face or telephone counselling. 

Face to face, phone or video counselling – Hunter Primary Care. Phone 02 4935 3039 to make an appointment. Face to face services available at Cessnock, Maitland, Warabrook, Singleton and Kurri Kurri. Telehealth or video consultations also available.

Psychological preparedness for disasters

Being psychologically prepared when a disaster is happening can help you feel more confident, more in control and better able to make effective emergency plans. It can also help to reduce psychological distress and prevent longer-term mental health problems.

Being psychologically prepared means your natural reactions to stress can be anticipated and managed and this helps you feel more in control, clear headed and confident. The Red Cross highlight 3 steps to assist you in being psychologically prepared:

  1. Anticipate – that you will feel worried or anxious and remember these are normal
  2. Identify – what physical feelings or frightening thoughts might be adding to the fear
  3. Manage – your responses so that you can stay calm

Below are helpful resources from Dr Rob Gordon, the Australian Red Cross and Australian Psychological Society that focus on preparedness for disaster. In addition to these are some tips below from the DART Centre for Journalism and Trauma that others have found helpful in managing distressing sensations and thoughts that arose whilst watching graphic imagery and sound, such as the up-coming ABC TV series “Fires”.

Experiment with different ways of building some distance into how you view images 
Some people find concentrating on certain details, for instance clothes, and avoiding others (such as faces) helps. Try adjusting the viewing environment. Reducing the size of the window or adjusting the screen’s brightness or resolution can lessen the perceived impact. Try turning the sound down or off when you can - it is often the most affecting part.

Take frequent screen breaks 
Look at something pleasing, walk around, stretch or seek out contact with nature (such as greenery and fresh air etc). Try to avoid watching programs with distressing images just before going to sleep. It is more likely to populate your mental space. (And be careful with alcohol - it disrupts sleep and makes nightmares worse). It’s a great time for us to talk about how we can #GetReadyTogether in 2021 and remind ourselves that the threat from the Black Summer of 2019/2020 has passed.


Financial support

Personal Financial Counselling – Samaritans. Phone 0437 368 967 to make an appointment with Graham Smith. Graham helps people who may be having trouble paying bills, finding it hard to manage money, need help to negotiate with businesses chasing outstanding payment of bills. He can help you apply for hardship variations with creditors.

Small Business Financial Counselling – Phone 0427 458 647 to speak with Kristi Petersen. Rural Financial Counselling Services provide free support to small businesses who may be experiencing, or at risk of, financial hardship dur to impacts of drought, bushfire or COVID-19.

Service NSW Business Concierge – Phone 13 77 88 and request to speak with your local business concierge. They can provide personalised, ongoing support for small businesses impacted by bushfires, drought, COVID-19 and more. They can help identify and understand the information on the Service NSW website and support available to you, including financial support and how to adapt to meet changing regulatory requirements.

Service NSW Support Service Specialist (SSS) – Phone 13 77 88 and request to speak with your local Cessnock SSS. They can help you with any enquiries about support available through Service NSW, including information and support on the Cost of Living Program, which looks at where savings can be made across many different service providers including electricity, gas, telephone, insurance, discounts, etc.