Financial counselling during COVID-19
The COVID-19 crisis is affecting lives everywhere, and here in Tasmania, many in our community are experiencing increased stress and uncertainty as businesses are closed and jobs are lost.
Anglicare makes it easy to get help and explore options when money challenges make life difficult.
Our financial counsellors provide a free, independent and confidential service. They can help you organise your budget, suggest ways to manage your debt, and refer you to other useful services.
Financial counsellors can also advise about consumer credit law, debt enforcement practices, bankruptcy, industry hardship policies and government concessions.
Simply call our free Financial Helpline on 1800 007 007.
Assisting you to deal with debt and organise your finances
Financial counselling is a free service.
To find out more, please call the Financial Helpline on 1800 007 007.
Our counsellors regularly visit the outer suburbs in Tasmania and the Tasmanian prisons. Community-based organisations can request education sessions for their members about any finance related issue.
The Financial Counselling Service is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. Visit dss.gov.au for more information. This service is also supported by the Crown through the Department of Communities Tasmania.
Frequently asked questions
Anglicare is committed to providing you with important updates and access to information and assistance during the COVID-19 crisis. This includes the Tasmanian Government Coronavirus Stimulus and Support packages.
Currently the government is providing additional financial supports for people who have been affected by COVID-19. These include:
- a $550 coronavirus supplement
- a $750 economic support payment
The coronavirus supplement will be paid out to income support recipients every fortnight for 6 months, raising the maximum base rate to $1115.70 per fortnight.
Those eligible for the coronavirus supplement include current recipients of:
- Jobseeker payments (formerly known as Newstart)
- Youth Allowance Jobseeker
- Parenting payments
- Farm household allowance
- Special benefit recipients
- Full-time students on Youth Allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY
The government will also be extending the Jobseeker Payment and Youth Allowance Jobseeker to employees that have lost their jobs or have been stood down, sole traders, the self-employed, casual workers and contract workers who have been affected by the current downturn.
The economic support payment will consist of two separate payments of $750 starting on March 31st 2020 and July 13th 2020. These payments are available to any person who is a veteran, receiving income support or is an eligible concession card holder.
Click here for more information and a full list of eligible Centrelink payments.
Residential Rent Relief Grant
What is the Residential Rent Relief Grant?
The Tasmanian Government has established the COVID-19 Residential Rent Relief Grant as a one-off payment paid directly to landlords (or their agents) who have entered into an approved temporary rent reduction agreement with their tenant to keep tenants securely housed in their principle place of residence.
Who is eligible for the Residential Rent Relief Grant?
Tenants can apply for rent relief through the Rent Relief Scheme from Housing Connect.
- Renting or boarding in the private market
- Paying more than 30% of their income in rent
- Experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19 (e.g. loss of income)
- Have less than $5,000 in total savings
- Have a landlord or agent who has agreed to reduce their rent for a set period
How do I apply for Residential Rent Relief Grant?
- Tenants experiencing hardship due to COVID-19 should speak with their landlord or agent to negotiate a rent reduction for a set period.
- Together with their landlord or agent, tenants can complete the Residential Rent Relief Grant Application Form.
- Once completed, submit the Application Form together with the required supporting documentation to Housing Connect.
- Housing Connect will assess applications against the eligibility criteria and contact tenants if they need further information.
- Housing Connect will send the assessed application to the Department of Justice who will notify the tenant and landlord of the outcome, within two business days.
- Once approved, the reduced rental amount will apply for the agreed period and the rent relief grant payment will be made directly to the landlord or agent’s bank account.
If you have any questions or cannot email the form and supporting documentation through, please contact 1800 800 588 for information and alternative application options.
The Tasmanian Government has worked with Aurora Energy to develop a customer support program.
They have agreed:
- Utility prices will be frozen for 12 months for businesses and households
- A 100% waiver for all small business customers on their next bill after April 1st 2020.
If you are experiencing difficulty paying your bill, or are likely to, you can contact:
There will be a suspension of evictions for tenants relating to rent in arrears. There is an immediate halt to termination by notice to vacate including any notices issued before the emergency period began having no effect if the tenant hasn’t yet vacated.
- Any notice to vacate issued by an owner to a tenant is of no effect until 30 June 2020.
- This applies to a notice to vacate which has been issued to a tenant, where the tenant is yet to vacate.
- Tenants need to continue to pay rent during this period. If a tenant is unable to pay their rent, they should talk to their property owner about a rent reduction.
- This measure will be reviewed after 90 days and may be extended.
- These changes are in place for 120 days.
- You can look at reducing your rent during this period if you are affected by COVID-19 through a mutual agreement. Please discuss this with your landlord.
Breaking a lease due to severe hardship
- Tenants or owners can apply to break a fixed term lease if its continuation would cause severe hardship to the tenant.
Further information can be found on the Consumer, Building and Occupational Services website.
Payday loans (Beware)
Stop the debt trap
Tasmania is experiencing the fastest growth of payday loans in the nation. But with a quarter of Tasmanians living in poverty, we are the people who can least afford them.
Through a payday loan you can borrow up to $2000. This might seem like a quick fix if you’re short of cash but these loans can be a debt trap.
Did you know that some companies such as Nimble and Wallet Wizard charge as much as 47% interest on these loans? The average interest charged on a credit card is 15%.
You can read more about the harm associated with payday loans here.
No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS)
No interest, No fees or charges, No credit checks, No worries
NILS is a No Interest Loan Scheme which provides people on low incomes with access to safe, fair and affordable credit.
The loan capital is provided interest-free by NAB and the State Government.
A NILS loan may be provided for amounts from $300 up to $1,500 for the purchase of items such as:
- Household essentials like fridges, washers and furniture
- Education essentials like computers, textbooks and school uniforms
- Medical and dental essentials like mobility equipment and dentures
- Car care essentials like registration, tyres and repairs
- Family violence support including removal costs and security equipment
Find more information about the No Interest Loan Scheme here.
You can contact your bank if you are experiencing difficulty to see what options they have available for your circumstances.
Banks are offering many supports at the moment to assist people including:
- 3 to 6 month payment deferrals
- Debt consolidation
- Waivers of fees and charges
- Interest free periods
- Overdraft and credit flexibility
If you are unable to resolve your situation, a Financial Counsellor may be able to assist you with options and advocate on your behalf with the bank.
The Federal Government has announced a JobKeeper payment of $1,500 per fortnight per employee for up to 6 months. This is a before tax payment. This subsidy will start on 30 March 2020 with the first payments for eligible people to be in the first week of May.
The State Government has announced:
- $20 million in interest free loans to businesses with a turnover of less than $5 million
- Payroll tax waived for hospitality, tourism and seafood industry for the last four months of 2019-20. Other businesses can apply with payrolls up to $5 million for April to June 2020.
- Small business grants program for apprenticeships and traineeships of $5,000 to people that hire an apprentice in tourism, hospitality, building and construction, and manufacturing industries.
To register for JobKeeper updates from the ATO, click here.
For more information
For more information about the government stimulus package, click the link below or visit the Australian Treasury website.
You can also download a copy of the Tasmanian Support & Stimulus Package (COVID-19) Factsheet here.