Ultimate guide for Aussies needing financial relief
Many Australians fear losing their job and face the uncertainty of dealing with their everyday expenses as the coronavirus crisis bites.
To help keep households and businesses afloat the Morrison Government has rolled out multiple stimulus and rescue packages worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
They are working around the clock to implement these quickly and save people from financial ruin.
Financial Counselling Australia's chief executive officer Fiona Guthrie urged Australians to remember "we are all in this together".
"Take a deep breath, we will get through this, there will be support," she said.
"There is help available and that's the first thing people need to know, your creditors including banks, utilities and telco companies are going to be there to help you.
"Talk to them first."
Here is some simple advice on what you can do to get your finances in order - and the help you are entitled to - in these uncertain times.
HOW DO I GET A HOME LOAN HOLIDAY?
Contact your bank immediately.
One in three Australians have a mortgage and the big four banks have all said help is available to those who need it.
ANZ chief executive officer Shayne Elliott went one step further and said anyone who needed a home loan break just had to ask.
"If you are worried and are feeling a bit anxious, call up the bank and ask to get that payment holiday," he said.
HOW LONG IS THE REPAYMENT HIATUS FOR?
It depends on the financial institution you bank with.
Some are giving customers a three month break while others are giving up to six months.
This means customers' repayments and interest charges will be paused during this period.
Once the loans starts back up again the period it was paused for, say six months, can be added onto the remaining loan term.
CAN I GET HELP TO PAY MY RENT?
The Government announced tenants struggling to pay rent will receive assistance from the Federal Government as part of their recent rescue packages.
More details are to come on this.
HOW DO I GET RELIEF FROM MY BILLS?
Check with your relevant provider to see what help is available.
Make sure you ask about their hardship programs which by law they have to offer.
These companies also often have other measures, such as bill smoothing - which spreads out the cost of the utility charges.
Some providers will also offer an additional few weeks to pay your bill simply by phoning up and following the prompts to get more time to pay your bill.
In addition to this, hardship programs are available which can help you pay costs over a long and arranged period of time.
CAN I ACCESS MY SUPER NOW?
Yes, eligible Australians have been given the green light by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to tap into the super savings prematurely.
A series of criteria must be met first.
This includes the applicant must be unemployed, on specific welfare benefits or have been made redundant after January 20 this year.
They may also have had their working hours slashed.
The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia's chief executive officer Dr Martin Fahy said early access should only be done in "extenuating circumstances".
HOW MUCH MONEY CAN I ACCESS?
The rules stipulate successful applicants can access $10,000 this financial year and $10,000 next financial year.
The amount withdrawn is tax free and to applications can be made from mid April via my.gov.au
HOW DO I ACCESS SUPPORT?
If you are eligible for an Economic Support Payment or coronavirus Supplement you do not need to do anything.
These payments will be paid automatically to those who are eligible.
Australians have been advised not to call or visit Centrelink unless its urgent.
WHAT IF I'M A NEW CENTRELINK APPLICANT?
If you do not currently get an income support payment or do not have a customer reference number (CRN) and you need help because you have lost your job or had your income reduced, please start your claim online through myGov.
The website (www.servicesaustralia.gov.au) has information about how to set up an account or link an existing account to Centrelink.
If you need to provide proof of identity this can be done over the phone - you do not need to come into Centrelink.
Your claim will still be processed while waiting for identity verification.
SMALL BUSINESSES/SOLE TRADERS
IF I'M A STRUGGLING WHERE DO I TURN TO FOR HELP?
There is a lot of help available including cashflow boosts of up to $100,000, reduction of tax payments and cheap business loans.
The best place to find the most recent information is business.gov.au and treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/businesses.
FREE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
Contact free financial counsellors at the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.
Originally published as Ultimate guide for Aussies needing financial relief