What type of financial relief is available for people directly affected by the Victorian bushfires?

Here is a list of relief packages available to help relieve the financial stress associated with paying:

  • Credit card bills
  • Loan repayments
  • Energy bills
  • Water bills
  • Landline and mobile phone bills
  • Insurance premiums

For free, independent and financial advice regarding debts, contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 to speak to a financial counsellor.

 

BANKS

NAB

What’s included?
  • Credit card and personal loan relief where appropriate
  • Suspending home and personal loan repayments
  • Support to manage existing regional and agribusiness bank facilities
  • Waiving costs and charges for withdrawing term deposits early
  • Waiving home loan and personal loan application fees
  • Support to restructure other existing bank facilities
  • Support and counselling available to customers via NAB’s Employee Assistance
How to access
  • Visit an NAB branch
  • Call 1300 683 106

 

ANZ

What’s included?
  • The ability to suspend repayments on loans, including credit cards, for up to three months (which may include interest capitalisation)
  • Temporary interest rate relief on lending for customers experiencing extreme financial distress in areas impacted by the fires
  • Waiving of fees associated with restructuring business loans considered necessary due to bushfire impacts
  • Access to term deposits early without incurring any fees
  • Assistance for affected customers with ANZ Home and Contents insurance as they may be eligible for measures such as emergency funds and temporary accommodation
How to access Call 1800 149 549

 

Commonwealth Bank

What’s included?
  • Emergency accommodation assistance for CommInsure customers whose homes have been damaged by bushfire
  • Expediting claims to CommInsure for customers seeking help through their home, contents and car insurance
  • Customised assistance for Commonwealth Bank home loan, credit card and personal loan customers who may experience difficulties because of the bushfires
  • Considering requests for additional loans including emergency credit limit increases (subject to credit approval)
  • Loan restructuring for business customers with existing loans
  • Waiving prepayment charges for the month following the event, for affected customers wishing to access term deposits and Commonwealth Investment Bonds ahead of the maturity date
  • Waiving other selected fees and charges
How to access Call 1300 720 814

 

Westpac

What’s included?
  • Impacted customers with Westpac home loans may apply to defer repayments for up to three months
  • Affected businesses can request loan restructuring without incurring the usual bank fees such as establishment fees and break costs
  • Customers wishing to purchase replacement goods may apply for a personal loan at a discounted interest rate with no establishment fee
  • Westpac may waive interest rate adjustments for affected customers wishing to withdraw term deposits
  • Impacted Westpac customers with Home and Contents insurance may be eligible to receive assistance under the terms of their insurance policies for emergency accommodation
How to access Call 1800 067 497

 

Bendigo Bank

What’s included?
  • Home Loan and Business Loan customers can apply for relief on loans for up to three months
  • Credit card customers can apply for an emergency credit card limit increase
  • Discounted interest rates on new personal loans taken out by existing Bendigo Bank customers
  • Waiver of interest rate reduction for early withdrawals on term deposits prior to maturity
  • No ‘loan break’ costs for customers with a fixed rate who use an insurance payment to pay out their loan
  • Existing customers with home and contents insured through CGU Insurance can apply for emergency funds and temporary accommodation costs
How to access Call 1300 652 146

 

Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)

What’s included? If your request for financial assistance is denied by your bank or financial service provider, you can contact AFCA to make a formal complaint.
How to access

 

ENERGY & WATER

Energy Payment Difficulty Framework

What’s included? By law, energy companies are required to offer help. Contact your electricity or gas provider to request hardship assistance.

Your retailer might give you more time to pay your bills or work out a plan to pay in instalments over time.

If you have trouble getting assistance from your energy retailer, contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman (EWOV).

The following retailers have put a temporary freeze on energy bills automatically:

  • EnergyAustralia

The following retailers are offering to put a temporary freeze on energy bills:

  • AGL Energy
How to access
  • Call your energy retailer
  • Or contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman (EWOV) 1800 500 509 (131 450 for languages other than English)

 

Water companies

What’s included? By law, water companies have to offer help. They might:
  • give you more time to pay the bill
  • work out a plan to pay overtime in instalments you can afford
  • check that you’re receiving government concessions and grants you’re entitled to
How to access
  • Call your water company
  • Or contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman (EWOV) 1800 500 509 (131 450 for languages other than English)

 

TELECOMMUNICATION COMPANIES

Telstra

What’s included? Short term measures (for Telstra customers who have a short-term impact – temporary evacuation of premises or temporary fault):
  • Waiving bills for volunteer firefighters for December 2019 and January 2020
  • Providing prepaid sim cards at some evacuation centres
  • Free use of Telstra public payphones in the affected areas
  • Free use of Telstra Air payphone hotspots in the affected areas
  • Free call diversion from an affected fixed home or business phone service to another fixed or mobile service of the customer’s choice, regardless of the carrier
  • Customers who use the free call diversion to divert their affected fixed home or business phone to their Telstra mobile service can also make local and STD® calls on their mobile at fixed-line rates, in accordance with their selected plan (limited to one designated Telstra mobile per affected household or business)
  • Affected Telstra mobile customers who do not have a Telstra home phone can receive a one-off credit to the value of $100 inc. GST (limited to one mobile phone per Telstra mobile account)

The above offers are applicable until network damage in the area due to fire is repaired, or while customers remain evacuated, for a maximum period of three months from the date of the fires.

Long-term measures (for Telstra customers who have suffered severe damage to or loss of their premises):

  • Free call diversion from the customer’s Telstra fixed phone service to another Australian fixed or mobile service of their choice, regardless of the carrier. This offer is applicable for a maximum period of 6 months from the date of the fire.
  • In addition, Telstra will apply a one-off credit to the value of $500 inc. GST to the customer’s Telstra fixed phone account to help cover the costs of the following, if required: Connection of a Telstra fixed phone service at one temporary residence
  • Re-connection of a Telstra fixed phone service at the customer’s original permanent premises
How to access Call 132 203

 

Optus

What’s included? Customers should contact Optus to see what relief assistance is available.
  • Waiving bills for volunteer firefighters for December 2019 and January 2020
  • Free call diversions from an Optus fixed home phone to any mobile or fixed number
  • Extended timeframes for bill payments
  • In instances of extreme financial hardship:
    • Bill waivers
    • Free suspension, relocation or cancellation of a fixed service
    • Free prepaid credit which can be organised at your local store
How to access Call 1300 301 671

 

Vodafone

What’s included?
  • Waiving bills for volunteer firefighters for December 2019 and January 2020. (Call Vodafone or visit a Vodafone store and quote your official volunteer ID number)
  • Steps to ensure customers in fire affected areas are not automatically disconnected if they fall behind on their bill payments
  • A range of options available under hardship policy
How to access Call 1300 650 405

 

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)

What’s included? If you were unbale to resolve your phone and internet issues with your provider, contact the TIO’s Natural Disasters help line.
How to access Call 03 8600 8308 or
1800 046 686

 

INSURANCE

MLC Life Insurance

What’s included?
  • Waiting premiums for up to three months for affected retail insurance customers
  • Customers can contact MLC any time up until the end of February 2020 to find out how the waiver applies to them
How to access
  • Advisers with customers in areas impacted by the bushfires should contact their MLC Life Insurance Distribution Engagement Manager or call 13 65 22
  • Customers can call 13 65 25

 

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