Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek has lashed out at the government for changing eligibility for bushfire victims to receive emergency funds as NSW communities reel from devastating fires.

"Australians certainly didn't vote for cuts to disaster-affected communities," Ms Plibersek told the South Australian ALP conference on Saturday.

"At this time when there is so much devastation, why would you withdraw that very modest amount that governments have given in the past to support people who are affected?"

Federal government payments of $1000 per adult and $400 per child are now available to people who are injured or whose homes are destroyed or damaged in the fires.

It's currently being offered to affected people in the local government areas of the Blue Mountains, Lake Macquarie, Lithgow, Muswellbrook, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Port Stephens, Wingecarribee, Wyong, and Wollondilly.

But Ms Plibersek said people who had to flee the fires then return to find their home still standing but in need of serious clean-up efforts would miss out.

In contrast, she said, payments under the Labor government helped 400,000 people clean up after the 2011 Queensland floods and another 63,000 after the 2009 Victorian bushfires.

She acknowledged Prime Minister Tony Abbott had praised people fighting the fires and given personal assistance to the effort.

Earlier in the week, Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield said the eligibility changes were designed to ensure people most in need got assistance first and the government would continue to assess the situation.

Ministers responsible for the payments were asked for further comment on Saturday.


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