Support for those experiencing financial hardship

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The last few years have been tough for many Australians.

With the COVID-19 pandemic placing many individuals and businesses in challenging financial circumstances, as well as natural disasters such as floods and fires resulting in loss of homes and assets, and the rising cost of living amongst other factors, it can be difficult to know where to start to navigate your way through your options.

AFSA is committed to supporting Australians experiencing financial difficulty by providing the right tools and information.

If you are struggling financially; you are not alone and support is available. It is important to get help early and understand your options.

I can’t pay my debts – where can I get help?

If you have unmanageable debt, the first step in taking control of the situation is to ask for help from the right sources.

Avoid untrustworthy advice.

Dodgy advisors can prey on vulnerable people who are experiencing financial difficulty. For example, social media ads by dodgy advisors could be targeted at those looking for help by using terms like ‘debt-free’ or similar keywords.

It is important to get trusted advice from a professional like those listed below. Independent financial advice from a trusted advisor can steer you towards the right option for you. It is important not to rely solely on unmediated online content that can lead to worse outcomes.

Financial counsellors

Financial counsellors offer free, independent, and confidential services to discuss your situation and help you get back on track.

To speak with a financial counsellor, contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007. This free hotline is open from 9:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday. There are also more tools and resources available online on the National Debt Helpline website.

Insolvency specialists

You can also get advice from trusted sources such as accountants and business advisors as well as those who specialise in insolvency.

AFSA’s website contains contact details of registered personal insolvency practitioners:

Register of trustees

Practicing registered debt agreement administrators

Talk to your creditors

If you are having immediate difficulty making your repayments, talk to your creditors. This could include your bank and the companies that provide electricity, gas, internet and phone services. They may have hardship programs or may be able to offer flexible payments or a lower interest rate.

It is important to note that some creditors may set terms and conditions, or requirements that may be legally enforceable and you may wish to seek your own independent advice before making a decision.

For more information on creditor requirements about hardship requests, visit ASIC’s Moneysmart website.

More support

Below are some other free, independent, and confidential resources and services available to help with financial hardship.

ASIC Moneysmart – Urgent help with money

Ask Izzy – Find the help you need, now and nearby

Services Australia – Getting help during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Australian Banking Association – Financial Assistance Hub

I’m struggling financially – what are my insolvency options?

If you have unmanageable debt, personal insolvency options are available.

Each option has different impacts, depending on your circumstances.

Debt Agreement (DA)

This is an agreement with your creditors to pay off your debts in instalments. Find out more

Personal Insolvency Agreement (PIA)

This is an agreement with your creditors but can be part payment by instalments or a lump sum. Find out more

Temporary Debt Protection (TPD)

This gives you a short period (21 days) to consider your options. In this time your unsecured creditors cannot take recovery action against you. Find out more

Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy comes with consequences, but it also offers relief and a chance for a fresh start.

To find out more, download Bankruptcy: A fresh start.

AFSA resources

We publish a range of resources to help those struggling financially. Below are some resources that you may find useful.

Contact AFSA

If you would like to speak with us, you can call the AFSA Service Centre on 1300 364 785.