'Forgotten' bushfire-hit towns get $650m for recovery
Bushfire-ravaged towns will receive $650 million as they work to recover from the devastating summer bushfires.
Only about one-third of the clean up is complete.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison expects it to be finished by the end of June in New South Wales, and August in Victoria.
The funding stems from the height of the disaster, but the government has outlined how it will be spent.
The package includes $448.5 million to be shared between communities to support local projects and recovery plans.
Bushfire recovery agency boss Andrew Colvin says no two communities will have the same recovery process.
"Disasters of this nature impact individuals in very different ways, and the recovery from that is very individualistic," he told reporters in Canberra.
The projects will include workshops and events to help the community, land and water development, replacing produce and stock, supporting local jobs and building future resilience.
About $150 million from the package will go towards environmental initiatives.
Money will also be used to help the telecommunications network prepare for future emergencies.
As well, mental health support is included in the package.
Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud says it's one of the most important parts of the plan.
"There is a fragility out there and there is Australians that are healing at different stages," he said.
"We've seen the convergence of drought and fire, COVID-19, there is a lot bearing down on these people."
Mr Littleproud says more than $1.3 billion has already been committed to bushfire hit regions, with that money focused on financial relief for families and businesses.
By the end of June the minister expects about $1 billion of that to have been delivered, dismissing criticism that applying for the money is too complicated.
At the height of the bushfire crisis, the Morrison government promised to spend at least $2 billion on the recovery effort.
A by-election is set to occur in the bushfire-hit electorate of Eden-Monaro on the south coast of NSW.
The Liberal Party is yet to announce its candidate, but its nominee for the 2019 election, Fiona Kotvojs, is expected to make a strong show in preselections.
Bega mayor Kristy McBain is Labor's candidate for the by-election.