As the southern and eastern parts of Australia breathe a collective – and yet restrained – sigh of relief this morning that yesterday’s horrific fire conditions have eased, the harsh reality of losing houses, stores and entire townships is dawning upon us all. For families and communities that have lost everything, there’s a long path to recovery, and every step of the way will be made a little easier by smart initiatives to smooth the path.

In overnight news, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs has announced that those who’ve lost passports in the bushfire emergency may be eligible for free replacements.

As a key identity document for many Australians – especially those who do not drive and have a drivers licence – a passport is amongst the most important documents we can have, and losing one can be a major headache, as the process of applying for a passport is rather annoying. Not to mention, there’s a fee of a few hundred dollars to have one issued, which bushfire victims might well want to put towards rebuilding their homes and communities.

Thus, DFAT has announced that free replacements may be available. Should you or someone you know be affected, please encourage them to review DFAT’s website for the application process, or to call 131 232 for further information.

Passports are just one thing, but for families whose homes have been destroyed, finding somewhere to live in the short term is probably right up the list of priorities. OzBargain reported overnight that AirBNB – through its OpenHomes program – is making free accommodation available to affected people in regions of NSW and Victoria impacted by fire.

The program allows AirBNB hosts to make their properties available for free, and for eligible people to apply for and stay in those homes to help them get back on their feet.

Of course, if you need assistance outside what’s mentioned here, you should get in touch with organisations involved with the recovery effort including the Australian Red Cross on 1800 RED CROSS.