COMMUNITIES within the Western Downs affected by ongoing bushfires in the region can now access disaster assistance.

Devastating fires have destroyed property, forced residents from their homes and burnt through thousands of hectares of land around Tara, Fairylands, Myall Park and Montrose, leaving many households without power.

Federal Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt said the Australian and Queensland Governments were working together to support recovery efforts through the jointly funded Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).

“I recognise that this is an extremely stressful time for evacuated residents currently in temporary accommodation,” Watt said.

“Through the DRFA we are able to offer those most affected some peace of mind by providing assistance to help meet their immediate needs.

“A range of assistance is now available to support community recovery such as immediate personal hardship payments to cover the costs of essential items for individuals and families, as well as funding for operational response activities.”

Bushfire smoke seen from the Miles township. IMAGE: June Bond

Queensland Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Mark Ryan said the fires escalated quickly on Sunday afternoon, 12 February. 

“Due to adverse weather conditions, these fires have been very difficult to contain,” Ryan said.

“Hours of water-bombing operations and hundreds of Fire & Rescue Service and Rural Fire Service personnel continue to make a heroic effort to bring these fires finally under control.

“As always, our Fire & Rescue Service and Rural Fire Service personnel did a remarkable job of protecting communities and I commend them for their efforts to date.

“We are monitoring the situation as it unfolds and will continue to work closely with the Commonwealth should other communities need disaster assistance. 

“The funding available through the DRFA will provide personal hardship assistance to those severely impacted by these bushfires.” 

For information on Personal Hardship Assistance, contact the Community Recovery Hotline 1800 173 349 or visit

Information on disaster assistance can be found on the Australian Government’s Disaster Assist website at and the Queensland Reconstruction Authority’s website at

Property damage from bushfires at Miles. IMAGE: Ken Brown
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