Emergency relief services include the provision of critical services to individuals and families who are suffering personal and immediate distress.
The assistance offered will vary from agency to agency and may include food parcels or vouchers, household goods or clothing, rent assistance, payment of payment of bills such as electricity, gas, or phone, or money to buy a meal.
Some agencies also provide other forms of assistance such as specialist counselling, transport assistance, medicine, education costs, as well as community information services.
If your organisation is planning to - or already provides - emergency relief, the compliance considerations will depend on the exact nature of the services your organisation provides.
- see the Australian Business Licence and Information Service for licence, permit and registration requirements.
Food and food parcels
If your organisation handles food as part of its emergency relief activities, you'll need to comply with the Food Act 1984 (Vic). As a first step, you must notify the local council for the location where your organisation is serving food. The food you serve will fall into a risk category (risk level 1 – risk level 4) where risk level 4 is low risk and may only require that you notify the council, with no additional requirement for a permit.
- see the Food safety for community groups page on the Department of Health website for useful factsheets on each risk category.
- see our Insurance page for information about insuring against problems that might arise from the food you serve.
- see your local council website.
Donor and volunteer liability
The Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic) includes specific rulings around the protection of food donors from civil action in the event of 'any death or injury that results from the consumption of the food'.
The Act also has specific rulings around the liability of volunteers in emergency situations.
- check the Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic) on the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website
Keeping workers safe
If your organisation has volunteers or employs staff or independent contractors, the law requires that you provide a safe workplace for them.
- see our keeping workers safe page for more information about your workplace health and safety requirements.
If your organisation undertakes fundraising activities, to help fund your emergency relief services, make sure you're registered and licensed, as required by related laws. You may need to be registered as a fundraiser, and you may also need to apply for a special licence or permission if you plan to run a gaming event.
- visit our Fundraising section for more detailed information and links
FaHCSIA Emergency Relief funding for organisations
The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) provides Emergency Relief funding to a range of Not For Profit organisations who provide emergency assistance to people in financial crisis. The FaHCSIA website has information on how to apply for funding and the administrative obligations for funded organisations.
- visit the Emergency Relief page on the FaHCSIA website