A home at Billys Creek west of Coffs Harbour destroyed in the recent fires.
A home at Billys Creek west of Coffs Harbour destroyed in the recent fires.

Lawyers line up to help bushfire victims

LEGAL experts in the areas of insurance, debt, tenancy, social security and financial hardship will be on hand in the region to assist bushfire victims.

The Legal Aid NSW lawyers will be available at their offices in Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie and provide outreach services at Forster, Kempsey, Taree, Bowraville, Grafton, Macksville, and Nambucca.

Attorney General Mark Speakman said lawyers will be able to assist victims with a wide range of issues.

"The Legal Aid NSW Disaster Response Service team stands ready to provide legal assistance that covers a range of issues, including insurance claims, tenancy, credit and debt, financial hardship, social security entitlements and employment," Mr Speakman said.

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Fires in northern NSW this year have destroyed or damaged more than 670 homes and left many hundreds of people facing the challenge of rebuilding their lives.

Trevor Bailey surveys the damage at his Bowraville property.
Trevor Bailey surveys the damage at his Bowraville property.

Legal Aid NSW CEO Brendan Thomas said all of the solicitors providing help at these locations have undergone training about what to expect.

"This is important work at a difficult and stressful time in people's lives, so part of the training is about how best to respond to the trauma experienced by those affected by bushfires," Mr Thomas said.

"Having an experienced advisor to help you navigate through legal issues can significantly reduce trauma and pave the way to rebuilding lives."

Free legal advice is available to anyone affected by a natural disaster. For more intensive casework, a means and merit test is applied.

Victims of natural disasters are considered priority clients. The LawAccess NSW Disaster Response Hotline is 1800 801 529 or visit www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au.