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Financial resources during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented level of financial stress to many people who have lost work due to illness or restrictions on social interaction and business operations. Restrictions have eased in Victoria, but the impact on community is ongoing. The following resources may be useful to you.

 

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Where can I find more information about financial resources? 

For more information about a wide range of financial matters you can visit the MoneySmart website. 

 

What financial support is available in response to COVID-19?

 

At WIRE, we know that financial hardship is about more than just money. Job insecurity and financial instability can make all parts of life more difficult, from being able to access basic necessities like food and medication, to caring for families, to maintaining our emotional wellbeing.

Below we’ve pulled together some general information and resources so you can explore your options and be informed about what support is available to you if you are experiencing financial stress as a result of COVID-19. Every individual and family is experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic and social restrictions differently, with varying needs and priorities to consider. Visit this page to find out how WIRE can support you. Jump to top of page.

 

I have COVID-19, or am a close contact to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and have been instructed to self-isolate. What financial support can I access during this time?

 

If you have been working but have been instructed by the Department of Health and Human Services to self-isolate or quarantine at home, you may be eligible for a one-off payment of $1500 under the COVID-19 Worker Support Payment scheme, offered through the Commonwealth Government’s Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment for Victoria. This payment is designed to financially support workers who are required to self-isolate. You may be eligible for this payment if you are:

  • 17 years and over 
  • Currently residing in Victoria (including people on Temporary Protection Visas and Temporary Working Visas 457 and 482) 
  • In continuing employment, likely to have worked during the period of self-isolation or quarantine at home and unable to work as a result of the requirement to self-isolate or quarantine at home 
  • A worker who is not receiving any income, earnings or salary maintenance from their work as a result of not being able to work during the period of self-isolation or quarantine at home 
  • A worker who has exhausted sick leave entitlements including any special pandemic leave 
  • Not receiving or eligible for the JobKeeper payment or other forms of Australian Government  income support 
  • A worker who is permanent, casual, part-time, fixed term, and self-employed. 

For more information on eligibility or to apply, go to this Services Australia web page. Jump to top of page.

 

The Victorian Government is providing a  $450 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test Isolation Payment to support Victorian workers, including parents and guardians, who are required to self-isolate while you wait for the results of your coronavirus (COVID-19) test. 

To be eligible for the $450 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test Isolation Payment, you must: 

  • be 17 years and over 
  • have been tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) or are the guardian or carer of someone who has been tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) 
  • currently reside in Victoria 
  • be likely to have worked or undertaken paid work during the relevant period of self-isolation and are unable to work as a result of:  
    • the requirement to self-isolate following the test for coronavirus (COVID-19)  
    • to care for someone who is required to self-isolate and stay in isolation following a test for coronavirus (COVID-19) 
  • not be receiving or have not received any income, earnings or salary maintenance as a result of not being able to work during the period of self-isolation; and 
  • have exhausted sick and/or carers leave entitlements including any special pandemic leave or have no entitlement to such leave 
  • not be receiving Australian Government income support such as the Jobseeker payment or be an employee subject to the JobKeeper payment during the period of self-isolation. 

For more information on eligibility or to apply, you can visit the Department of Health and Human Services website 

 

 

If you have lost your job or your hours have changed, it is important to know your rights. Job Watch has prepared a COVID-19: Employment Rights Q&A. This covers many of the changes people are experiencing in their jobs as a result of COVID-19. 

Fairwork Australia has government information on workplace rights, as well as frequently asked questions about workplace obligations and entitlements at this Coronavirus and Australia Workplace Laws website. Jump to top of page.

 

 

What payments am I entitled to if I have reduced hours or I’ve lost my job?

 

If you have lost your income, you may be able to claim a Centrelink payment online through My Gov. You can view this list at Services Australia to find out what payments you are eligible for. 

You can find instructions on how to register at Services Australia.

In addition to existing benefits, the government is paying additional supplementary payments to people on eligible payments. Read more information about supplementary payments on this Services Australia webpage.

If you have lost your job since 1 March 2020 as a result of COVID-19, you may be eligible for the JobKeeper payment. This payment aims to ensure employers are able to retain their employees by supporting them to pay their staff. Employers must apply for this scheme, and inform eligible staff that they will be receiving this payment. Speak to your employer to find out if they are receiving the JobKeeper payment. You can find out more information about JobKeeper payment on the Treasury website

If you want more information about your rights to social security or need support in appealing a Centrelink decision, you can speak to Social Security Rights Victoria (SSRV). Jump to top of page.

 

How can I find other work after losing my job?

 

There is a Victorian government initiative to employ workers who have recently lost their job or casuals who no longer have shifts. Read more information about the requirements, jobs available and the application process on the Victorian Government’s Working For Victoria web page

You can also explore available jobs in sectors that are experiencing an increase in demand including health and care sectors, transport and logistics, some areas of retail, mining and mining services, manufacturing, food production and government sectors. You can visit the Australian Government webpage Jobs Hub to see available jobs in these industries.

You can also complete the job seeker form on United Workers Union’s Job Match. This service aims to match workers with employers in industries that are currently increasing their workforce.

You can also receive support to prepare and apply for other jobs through Fitted for Work, which is offering remote support with:

  • Resume and cover letter preparation  
  • LinkedIn training 
  • Interview preparation and mock interviews 
  • Online job searching and tailoring applications. Jump to top of page.

 

I’m worried I won’t be able to pay bills, loans, my rent or other debts during this time – what can I do?

 

There are a range of options you can explore if you’re experiencing financial hardship. These include:

  • Speaking to your bank, insurer or utility provider – many banks are providing different forms of support during the COVID-19 pandemic, including pausing repayments on loans, waiving fees and financial hardship services. Finder has prepared a resource which outlines what many of the banks and insurance companies are offering, as well as what energy and utility companies are offering.
  • Speaking to a financial counsellor – if you need support managing debts during this time, you can speak to a financial counsellor for free by calling the National Debt Hotline on 1800 007 007.
  • Exploring low-interest loan options if you need to borrow money fast, it’s important to make sure you check the fees. You may be eligible for a no interest loan for utility bills or rent through Good Shepherd’s Household Relief. You can find out about what other different kinds of low-interest loans may be available to you from Money Smart.  

You can also look at the COVID Money Project which includes information on crisis budgeting, COVID-19 related financial resources and some possible actions for people who have experienced a significant reduction in income as a result of COVID-19.

If you would like to discuss these options to decide what is right for you, you can have a conversation with a WIRE support staff member by calling us on 1300 134 130 or writing us an email. Jump to top of page.

 

I’m worried about paying my rent or mortgage — what can I do?

 

There are a few options for people who are unable to pay rent due to financial hardship related to COVID-19. These include:

  • Renting laws are temporarily changed in Victoria to protect tenants from evictions and allow you to negotiate a rent reduction with your landlord if you’re suffering financial hardship due to COVID-19. You can find out more information about your rights on this Consumer Affairs web page
  • Tenants Victoria has up-to-date information on a COVID-19 Guide for Renters page.  
  • You can write to your landlord asking for a payment plan – Justice Connect have developed a Dear Landlord tool to help you construct your letter, which you can use as a template.
  • You may also be eligible for a Rent Relief grant up to $3000 from the Victorian Government if you are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.

If you are unable to pay your mortgage payments, you can speak to your lender. Many banks are offering to freeze mortgages. You can learn more about what to do if you have problems paying your mortgage on this web page on  Moneysmart. Jump to top of page.

 

I’m a temporary visa holder in Australia, what financial support or services can I access?

 

Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holders may be entitled to the JobKeeper payment if their employer is receiving these payments. If you currently hold this visa and have lost your job, you can speak to your employer to find out if you will be receiving this payment. You can read this factsheet for more information about which visa holders are eligible for JobKeeper payments.

For people who have not received support through the International Student Emergency Relief Fund and live in Victoria, there is an Extreme Hardship Support Payment expected to be available until December 2020.

Temporary visa holders who are renting in Victoria are also able to access the Rent Relief Grant.

No other temporary visa holders are able to access federal government payments. If you are on a temporary visa (including refugee visa, bridging visa or seeking asylum) and experiencing financial hardship, you can contact the below community organisations for more information about services available:

  • Refugee Council of Australia for useful updates for refugees and asylum seekers in relation to COVID 19. You can also search for relevant accessible services (including food, money help, everyday household goods, housing and transport) on their Services in Victoria Page. 
  • Asylum Seeker Resource Centre for information on how asylum seekers can access food, healthcare, legal aid, leisure and recreation, employment support (please note, ASRC are located in Footscray).
  • Refugee Health Network for Multilingual COVID 19 Health Information

Some temporary visa holders are eligible for work transfers through the Working For Victoria initiative. You can register for the scheme if you have lost your job or shifts of casual work and are interested in retraining or changing the type of work you do.

It is also important to note that as of 20 March 2020, only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can travel to Australia. If you are on a temporary visa, you therefore cannot leave and return to Australia until these travel restrictions have been lifted. You will need to apply for a new visa before your existing visa expires. Jump to top of page.

 

 

How do I identify whether an advertised support is legitimate or a scam?

 

It’s important to be cautious of scams or illegitimate financial services as these can thrive in times of crisis. No one should be asking for your bank details over the phone, in an email or text message. If you receive a message or phone call asking for bank details hang up and call your bank.

You can find out about some common scams and other scams that have been happening at Scamwatch, including current COVID 19 scams. Jump to top of page.

 

How do I make sure I can stay online and connected when dealing with financial hardship?

 

Many major telecommunication networks implemented strategies to support their customers to be able to communicate and access the Internet during this time, including additional data and calls. See this up-to-date guide from WhistleOut on what each telecommunication network is providing. Jump to top of page.

 

I am in isolation and urgently need food, toiletries or medication – where can I access these supplies?

 

The Victorian Government has an emergency relief program for those in mandatory self-isolation. Food packages include items such as long-life milk, pasta, cereal, canned vegetables and sugar. Personal care packages are available to eligible households and include soap, toothpaste and deodorant. Additional items may also be provided depending on the needs of the household, such as nappies or baby formula.

You can access these by calling Victoria’s coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.

You can also check with your local council to see if it is providing emergency supplies and services, or whether it can direct you to local organisations that are providing emergency supplies. You can see a list of what each council is currently providing on Study Melbourne Community Support and Food Relief web page, or this government web page. North West Homelessness Networks have also compiled a list of emergency relief and material aid options.

There are also many active neighbourhood support groups on social media where you can make requests for specific supplies or volunteer support. You can search on Facebook for ‘Good Karma Network’ or ‘Coronavirus Support Group’ to find one operating in your suburb or region. Jump to top of page.

 

My partner or family member won’t let me make decisions about money or let me know where the household money is going. What should I do?

 

Everybody has a right to have control over their financial situation. If someone is withholding money from you, controlling the household spending or refusing to include you in financial decisions then this is financial abuse, and is a form of family violence. If you think you may be experiencing financial abuse, you can read more about what financial abuse is and how to recognise it.

WIRE support staff are also available for you to speak to and to provide you with relevant information or referrals. You can have a confidential conversation with a WIRE support staff member by calling us on 1300 134 130 or write us an email at support@wire.org.au. Jump to top of page.

 

I have, or someone I care for has, a disability — where can find accessible information and assistance?

 

The Department of Health and Human Services has created an online page to provide people with a disability with accessible information about COVID-19, services, financial assistance and supplies. It also features mental health resources.  

You can also contact the Disability Information Helpline on 1800 643 787 for information about COVID-19, referrals, and  access to counselling. The helpline is available Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday and Sunday 9am to 7pm. Jump to top of page.

 

I’m feeling isolated, anxious or overwhelmed – who can I talk to?

 

WIRE’s online chat and phone support services continue to be available remotely. If you need someone to talk to, or information that isn’t available above, please give us a call on 1300 134 130 or write us an email at support@wire.org.au. Beyond Blue has also prepared a list of available national helplines or websites for emotional wellbeing, including some that provide targeted support for specific demographics (such as youth, LGBTIQA+ and multicultural communities) or mental health concerns. 

You can contact Beyond Blue for phone counselling 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Please note COVID-19 financial information and resources are constantly updating — WIRE will be updating this page regularly with any changes or new developments. You can contact WIRE support staff for the most up to date information by calling us on 1300 134 130 or writing us an email.  Jump to top of page.

 

 

More information about financial resources 

 

For more information about a wide range of financial matters you can visit the MoneySmart website. 

 

 

 

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