NSW Government Disaster Recovery Centres are now operating in South Windsor and Wisemans Ferry and Senior Disaster Recovery and Insurance Solicitor, Ma'ata Solofoni, is encouraging locals to drop by for assistance with their legal matters.
The Disaster Response Legal Service NSW can provide flood-affected residents with free assistance on a range of issues including insurance, tenancy, and accessing entitlements.
Ms Solofoni said: "Sometimes these matters aren't obvious right at the beginning, it could take several months before people realise they need legal assistance after floods.
"Lots of people think that somebody is doing it tougher than them and they help others and put their own needs on the back-burner, but we encourage them to come in and talk about it. Everyone needs a helping hand and we are happy to help where we can."
Ms Solofoni is currently working at one of the disaster recovery centres that have been set up to help the communities of northern NSW, but there is a team of western Sydney legal council representatives on the ground in the Hawkesbury.
One of the main areas the team have been providing advice around locally is tenancy, particularly around caravan parks.
"We're giving advice around rights and responsibilities for tenants, and providing assistance sometimes - we might be calling landlords to be the go-between, because there are lots of people under immense stress at the moment and they aren't really able to advocate for themselves when they otherwise normally could," Ms Solofoni said.
Insurance is another big area the team is helping flood-affected community members navigate.
Everyone needs a helping hand and we are happy to help where we can.- Senior Disaster Recovery and Insurance Solicitor, Ma'ata Solofoni
"They might not have flood cover. There are some issues around whether the damage was caused by flood waters or storm so it's complicated and there are some nuances that would be complicated for people to work out in normal circumstances - let alone with the stress and anxiety they've been living through," Ms Solofoni said.
Other areas in which the legal team members have been helping locals include temporary accommodation, health and safety in damaged properties (including mould issues), helping Centrelink recipients, assisting people to access disaster payments through Service NSW and Centrelink, and retail tenancy for small businesses.
"We know that everyone is doing it tough and there are probably some legal issues that aren't very obvious to people, so we are happy to sit down and have a chat with people to work out if there are some legal issues they need help with. If they are not sure, they are welcome to come see us," Ms Solofoni said.
No bookings are needed - residents can just turn up to the recovery centres during their open hours. If they prefer to be helped on the phone, they can call 1800 801 529 - 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Flood Recovery Centres: service.nsw.gov.au/floods/recovery-centres
Legal Aid: disasterhelp.legalaid.nsw.gov.au