Financial hardship tends to go hand in hand with disadvantage and homelessness. Financial hardship occurs when you become constantly short of money for the essentials such as rent, bills, education, clothing, food and transport. It can be caused by a loss or reduction of income, the increasing cost of living, raises in rent or rates and unexpectedly high bills. Not having enough money week to week also impedes a person’s ability to save extra for when these things happen.
There are a number of options to help if you are facing financial hardship:
- Contact a community agency to help look for and cover the costs of moving to a less expensive property.
- Apply for government benefits such as rent assistance.
- Talk to your utilities providers and school for more time to pay bills or ask for a payment plan.
- Use a community agency to get help with food and transport vouchers, food packages and meal services or part payment of outstanding bills.
- Get an appointment with a financial counsellor to help you budget and understand your financial situation
Available government assistance
ABSTUDY helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians cover the expenses associated with their education, including Australian Apprenticeships.
Austudy helps those aged 25 years or over cover the expenses associated with their full-time education, including Australian Apprenticeships.
The Age Pension provides an income and concessions for those aged 65 years and over.
Up to 14 weeks payment to help with finances after the loss of a partner.
A supplement paid to someone who looks after a person with a disability, who is frail or has a medical condition.
Centrepay schedules regular payments from your Centrelink allowances to bills such as rent, education expenses and utilities.
Child Care Benefit and Rebate
Helps to cover the costs associated with registered child care facilities.
Child Disability Assistance Payment
A yearly payment to help families with the costs associated with caring for a child with disabilities.
A one off payment to help people experiencing a crisis situation such as becoming homeless through family violence or natural disaster.
Dad and Partner Pay
A payment to help dads or partners caring for a newborn or recently adopted child.
Disability Support Pension
An income for people with a physical, intellectual or psychiatric condition that stops them from working, or people who are permanently blind.
An ongoing supplement to help with the cost of energy bills.
Essential Medical Equipment Payment
An annual payment to help with the extra costs related to essential medical equipment.
Family Tax Benefit
Payments to help with the costs associated with raising a child.
Health Care Card
Allows for concessions on medication, treatments, transport, utilities and other savings.
Low Income Supplement
An annual payment to those households whose income is less than $60,000.
An income for those over 16 but under 65 years who are looking for work.
Parental Leave Pay
Paid to the primary carer of a newborn or recently adopted child equivalent to the minimum weekly wage for up to 18 weeks.
A payment to help with the costs associated with raising a child.
An allowance to help with the costs of prescription medicines.
An allowance to help with the cost of renting.
Single Income Family Supplement
An annual payment to help single income families with the costs of living.
Student Start-up Loan
A tax-free loan to higher education students receiving Youth Allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY Living Allowance.
An annual payment to help with the costs associated with regular utility bills.
An income for people between the ages of 16 to 24 years who are studying full time, undertaking a full time Australian Apprenticeship, training, looking for work or sick.
For more information on government assistance contact Centrelink.
Material aid is the practical assistance given to people in need. It includes food services, parcels and vouchers, toiletries, bedding, transport vouchers, holiday hampers. Sometimes the agency will be able to help with the payment of bills or medications when the funds are available but it’s usually best to call ahead to see what is available and to make an appointment.
Call the Department of Health and Human Services on 1300 650 172 and they will connect you with an agency or service in your area.
Emergency relief helps people solve their immediate financial crisis through vouchers (food, transport or chemist), part payment of outstanding bills (rent or accommodation, utility accounts) and material assistance such as household goods, food parcels or clothing.
Contact the Department of Social Services
Financial counselling takes place with qualified and experienced workers who can help with budgeting, advocacy on the behalf of their client with outside organisations, referrals to and information about other agencies that can assist with finances or other issues, and financial literacy.
Financial Counselling Australia [FCA] is the peak body for financial counsellors across Australia. Founded in 1982, they support financial counsellors and advocate on behalf on their clients for a fairer marketplace, especially those on low incomes or who are vulnerable. FCA is a member of the Consumers’ Federation of Australia.
Financial counsellors provide a free, independent and confidential service. You can use the FCA website to locate one in your area. For telephone counselling with a counsellor close to you, call 1800 007 007. A financial counsellor can help you with the following issues:
- Insurance company claims and policies;
- Banks and lenders;
- Grant applications and eligibility;
- Help with complaints to the ombudsman;
- Referrals to specialist community and social services;
- Information about consumer rights and codes of practice;
- Referral to community legal aid;
- Debt advice and options;
- Budget assistance and financial management; and
- Information on and eligibility for schemes, funds and material aid.