Factsheet: Helping people in financial difficulty

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Online text version - December 2014

Here are some ways to help people who are in financial difficulty.

Problems paying rent, bills, debts and fines

Your client can:

  • Speak to their bank, landlord, utility or phone provider and tell them they're experiencing hardship
  • Get help negotiating their bills from a free financial counsellor 
  • Ask for their bills to be smoothed (spread the amounts evenly across the year)
  • Apply for an electricity or gas rebate or voucher
  • Talk to their state's debt recovery agency to find out their fine payment options 
  • Avoid using high cost credit such as credit cards and payday loans
  • Hold a family meeting to work through money problems

Losing a job

Your client can:

  • Check if they're owed anything from their previous job
  • Apply for benefits from the Department of Human Services 132 850 (some have waiting periods)
  • Search for short-term or part-time work while looking for a new job
  • Tell their lenders, landlord and utility company they have lost their job and renegotiate repayments
  • Review their budget so they can adjust to less income

Separation or divorce

Your client can:

  • Close any joint accounts and open a new account in their name
  • Make a list of all their assets, debts and joint debts
  • Get legal advice to freeze any joint accounts and separate property
  • Update their rental agreement so it is in their name
  • Update their will
  • Contact Family Relationships Online familyrelationships.gov.au 1800 050 321

Illness or disability

Your client can:

  • Find out what sick pay they are entitled to at work
  • Check whether they have insurance policies which could cover payments or replace their income
  • Contact Medicare 132 011 to get help with health costs
  • Tell their lenders, landlord and utility company they have experienced illness or disability and renegotiate repayments
  • Review their budget to adjust to a change in income

Having a baby

Your client can:

  • Find out what paid leave they are entitled to from their work
  • Apply for government benefits such as Parental Leave Pay, Family Tax Benefit and Child Care Subsidy from the Department of Human Services 136 150
  • Borrow baby clothes and other items from friends or family members to reduce costs
  • Review their budget to adjust to less income and new expenses
  • Update their will and review insurance to protect their family

Emotional support and practical advice

Your client can contact:

Useful contacts

Service Contacts
Income support and other social services
  • humanservices.gov.au
  • Centrelink Employment Services 132 850 
  • DHS's Financial Information Service 132 300
Emergency relief
Emergency housing
  • search 'urgent money help' on moneysmart.gov.au for housing contacts
Financial counselling
  • Financial Counselling Australia 1800 007 007
No Interest Loans
Make a complaint
  • Australian Financial Complaints Authority afca.org.au 1800 931 678


Last updated: 07 Nov 2018