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Woman with heart problems pleads for 'case by case' help after being denied Cyclone Seroja relief funding

Thursday June 10, 2021 - 12:23 EST
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Robyn Joynson's leased house was seriously damaged when Cyclone Seroja tore through Perenjori in April. - ABC

An unemployed woman with heart problems who moved out of her home to be closer to hospital says she is struggling to access cyclone relief funding because the seriously damaged property is not considered her primary residence.

The roof and two walls of Robyn Joynson's small Perenjori house, in the WA's Midwest, collapsed after a tree fell on to it during Cyclone Seroja in mid-April.

The home was rented out to tenants about six months before the cyclone hit, so Ms Joynson could rent another home closer to the hospital in Three Springs.

But now she said she was struggling to access any of the nearly $7.5 million in the Lord Mayor's cyclone relief fund because the damaged property was not considered her primary residence.

And while her bank has helped out by allowing her to pause her mortgage payments for three months, that grace period will soon end.

Priced out of the city

Ms Joynson said it was her only house and she decided to buy it after being priced out of the Perth real estate market.

But the rules governing the Lord Mayor's cyclone relief fund stop her from accessing funds which could help cover the mortgage while the house is uninhabitable.

"It is supposedly if you have had your house damaged, seriously damaged you can access up to $10,000 or if your house is destroyed it is $20,000 but only if you are an owner occupier or a tenant," Ms Joynson said.

"I just felt helpless," she said.

She contacted the City of Perth, which manages the fund, to plead for help.

Appeal to Lord Mayor's fund

"I emailed the Lord Mayor's appeal and told them of my situation," she said.

"I got an email back saying we cannot help you at this time but maybe if there is more funds raised it may change.

"I think they should look at it case by case. You still have to have the house repaired and pay a mortgage whether you live in it or not.

"I just do not think it is fair my tenants can access the funds but I can not."

Fund rules 

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Lord Mayor's Disaster Relief Fund Seroja Appeal (LMDRF) said funds were available to owner-occupiers and tenants.

The home had to be impacted by Tropical Cyclone Seroja and be the person's primary place of residence. 

"The LMDRF board at a future date may consider funding to other impacted individuals, dependent on the funds received to the appeal," the statement said.


© ABC 2021

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