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Urgent financial help

No matter how difficult the situation, help is available. Here is a list of available resources with links and phone numbers.

Are you in danger?

🆘 If you or someone you are with is in immediate danger, then call 000 immediately.

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.

Urgent help

If you need help immediately then the services below can provide you with urgent support in Australia:

  • If you want to speak to someone on the phone about your money problems… Call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 (weekdays, 9:30am–4:30pm AEST).
  • If you want to speak to someone online or over the phone for crisis support… Use the Lifeline Live Chat service or call 13 11 14 (available 24/7).
  • If you want a digital tool to find support services near you… Visit the Ask Izzy website and choose the relevant category.

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–4:30pm AEST, 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.

How do I know if I'm eligible for financial assistance?

  • Financial counselling. Anyone can call or chat with the National Debt Helpline 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.

How do I apply for financial hardship?

If you're struggling with your loan payments or bills, 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 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, other financial expenses and what repayments you can afford. Financial problems resulting from gambling or excessive spending are 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.

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.

The health impact of the rising cost of living

If your financial situation and the rising cost of living are impacting your mental health or wellbeing, you are absolutely not alone. Data released from Beyond Blue in December 2023 found that for 83% of the 1,000 respondents, the rising cost of living is negatively impacting their mental health – with 1 in 5 people saying that the impact is extreme.

Finder conducted our own survey of over 1,000 Australians and discovered that over a quarter of people have needed urgent financial help at some point.

Finder survey: How many Australians have needed urgent financial help?

Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1004 Australians, December 2023

Specific support services

Financial struggles can be the cause or result of a host of issues. If you need specific support, you can start with the resources below.

IssueContact details
Debt and financial stressVisit National Debt Helpline to live chat (weekdays 9am–8pm AEST) or call 1800 007 007 (weekdays, 9:30am–4:30pm AEST)
Crisis supportVisit Lifeline to live chat or call 13 11 14 (24 hours)
Depression or anxietyVisit Beyond Blue to live chat or call 1300 22 46 36 (24 hours)
Domestic violence and abuseVisit 1800respect to live chat or call 1800 737 732 (24 hours)
Legal adviceVisit the CLCS to find your nearest Community Legal Centre
Drug and alcohol addictionVisit Counselling Online or call 1800 250 015 (24 hours)
Gambling problemsVisit Gambling Help Online to live chat or call 1800 858 858 (24 hours)
Children and young peopleVisit Kids Helpline to live chat or call 1800 55 1800 (24 hours)
Eating disordersVisit the Butterfly Foundation to live chat or call 1800 33 4673 (8am–midnight AEST)
Health problemsFor non-urgent medical advice, visit Healthdirect or call 1800 022 222 (24 hours)

No Interest Loans (NILs)

Good Shepherd offers No Interest Loans (NILs) of up to $3,000 for people in need. It can be used for essential goods and services, as well as some housing costs.

To qualify for NILs, you must earn less than $70,000 per year before tax as a single person or less than $100,000 as a couple or family.

Good Shepherd is a not-for-profit organisation committed to providing affordable finance for Australians in need. You can call its dedicated team on 13 64 57.

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To make sure you get accurate and helpful information, this guide has been edited by Jason Loewenthal as part of our fact-checking process.
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Written by


Alanna Glenn is the lead publisher for money at Finder. She has an Honours Bachelor of Commerce from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada and likes to get into the nitty gritty of all things financial and legal. See full bio

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