Do you need financial help urgently?
No matter how difficult the situation, help is always available.
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Are you struggling financially?
If you're struggling financially and would like to speak to someone for free financial advice, information and assistance you can call the Financial Counsellors hotline on 1800 007 007 (open from 9:30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday). If you are suffering financial problems related to the coronavirus pandemic you may be eligible for additional support.
If you're in a position where you need financial help – whether it's mounting debt or emergency food and housing – there is assistance available. There are a number of government and financial hardship schemes, charities and emergency relief organisations that can help you.
What kind of financial help is available?
Depending on the financial help you are looking for, there are a number of services available. These include:
- Emergency relief. If you find yourself in need of emergency funds for food, transport or utility bills, there are several community organisations you can contact. These include the Salvation Army, the St Vincent De Paul Society and Anglicare. You can also check with your local community centre, church or community organisation. Ask Izzy is a directory of 370,000 support services, helping you to locate one nearby.
- Crisis relief. If you're experiencing severe financial hardship, recovering from a disaster or need special assistance, there are a number of avenues available. There are also additional payments, including child care subsidies, crisis payments and special benefits. If you're struggling with loan repayments, your bank will have financial hardship schemes you can access.
- Food relief. There are a number of organisations you can contact if you need food relief. These include OzHarvest, SecondBite and Foodbank.
- Emergency housing. You can get rent assistance and emergency housing through various organisations. Your state or territory government can also help with emergency and temporary housing. You may be able to get temporary accommodation in low-cost motels, hotels or caravan parks if you're experiencing a housing crisis or homelessness. You may also be able to get help securing a rental bond.
- Financial counselling. If you're having trouble with money or debt, there are free financial counsellors who can give you advice. This service is free, government-funded and anonymous. You can call 1800 007 007 from 9:30am to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday.
There are also other counselling services, like free legal advice, language assistance, indigenous assistance, mental health support, and domestic violence, family violence or abuse support services.
In case you're looking for specific services which help you source clothes for job interviews or court appearances, there are a number of organisations that can help. These include Dress for Success, Dress for Work and Fitted for Work, among others. Additionally, if you need extra help writing a resume or preparing for interviews, there are online resources like Job Jumpstart to get you going.
How do I know if I'm eligible to access financial assistance?
- Financial counselling. Anyone can call and receive free financial counselling. It is also anonymous and your identity will be protected.
- Financial hardship from your lender. You will need to demonstrate "reasonable cause", such as job loss or illness.
- Emergency financial assistance. You may need to explain your situation to the community organisation to demonstrate that you're in need.
- Government assistance. There is a specific criteria you need to meet for emergency payments. We've included more information below.
What kind of government assistance is available and am I eligible?
The Australian government offers the following provisions:
- Crisis payments. If you're experiencing "severe financial hardship in extreme circumstances", you can access a one-off crisis payment. You can get this payment even if you're getting food or new electrical goods from other organisations. There are a number of crisis payments available, including for COVID-19, for family and domestic violence, for natural disasters not covered by disaster relief payments, for humanitarian entrants, and following release from prison or psychiatric confinement. To be eligible for a crisis payment, you must be in severe financial hardship, receive or be eligible for an income support payment or ABSTUDY Living Allowance, and be experiencing an extreme circumstance.
- Special benefit. This payment can be accessed if you're not eligible for any other income support from the government. You must be in financial hardship to access this. How much you get will depend on your circumstances.
- Carer adjustment payment. This is a one-off payment you can access if your child under 7 years old gets a severe illness or major disability following a catastrophic event. Catastrophic events include childhood strokes or cancer, autism and genetic conditions. They could also be events such as a car accident, fall, fire, poisoning or near drowning.
- Additional child care subsidy. If you're experiencing financial hardship, you can access an additional care subsidy for short-term help. You must be eligible for the child care subsidy to apply.
- Pension loans scheme. This is a loan for pensioners who can use the equity in their real estate for a loan. You can use the funds to supplement your retirement income. This loan comes with interest, and charges an annual interest rate of 4.5%. To be eligible, you or your partner must be of pension age or older, and receive or qualify for a pension. You must also have real estate you can use as security and insurance covering the property.
- Advance payment. If you receive income support payments, you can apply to receive part of your payments early. This amount will then be deducted from your future payments. You must receive payments for at least 3 months to be eligible, but some government payments like Austudy, Parenting Payment and Jobseeker payment are not included.
You also have the option of requesting for an early release of your super. You can apply to the ATO on compassionate grounds. However, this option should only be used in extreme circumstances, as you'll be dipping into your retirement fund. This means that by the time you're ready to retire, you'll have less to go on.
How do I apply for financial hardship?
If you're struggling with your loan payments, your lender will have a financial hardship scheme in place.
You could experience hardship for a number of reasons, including loss of income, natural disasters, family matters, medical reasons or unexpected financial expenses.
Financial hardship involves changes to your loan contract to accommodate your changed financial circumstances. This can include temporarily changing your loan repayments or setting up a payment plan.
The first step is to contact your lender. You will be asked to demonstrate why you're experiencing hardship, your current income and other financial expenses, and what repayments you can afford. Financial problems resulting from gambling or excessive spending is usually not a suitable cause.
You can use the Australian Banking Association's financial assistance hub to find out what your options are and to retrieve your bank's contact details. There is a sample letter generator which can help you create a letter when you're applying for financial hardship assistance. You can also contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 from 9:30am to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday.
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