COVID -19: Emergency financial assistance

If you are struggling to meet your basic needs because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for financial assistance. Emergency assistance is also available for temporary residents.

This page summarises financial assistance that you can access if you are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and are struggling to meet your basic needs.

Information on this page:
Please click the links below to visit each section

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This page summarises financial assistance you can access if you are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It has information about getting help with food and bills, Commonwealth, State and Territory Government payments and financial assistance, No Interest Loans (NILs) for essential goods and services and NILs for Vehicles. There is also information about assistance for temporary residents, who may not qualify for the main government support measures.

If you are struggling financially, it is worth checking what financial assistance is available to you.

Food and bills

Across Australia there are more than 1300 outlets for emergency relief run by charities and community organisations.

If you need help urgently with living expenses, charities can help you with:

  • food, transport or chemist vouchers
  • rent or accommodation
  • part-payment of electricity, gas or water bills
  • food parcels or clothing
  • budgeting or referrals to other programs.

You can find your closest service on the Ask Izzy website.

The level of assistance available for electricity, gas or water bills varies between States and Territories.

State and Territory Governments also provide a range of vouchers, rebates, concessions and other savings to help ease the cost of living.  Please see State and Territory Government Assistance section below to find out what cost of living assistance may be available to you.

There are also special protections and assistance measures in place for people who may be having trouble paying their energy, water, phone, internet and rates bills.  For more information see COVID-19: Utilities, Telcos and Rates

Government Assistance

If you have lost income because you must isolate after testing positive for COVID-19, been identified as a close contact, or caring for someone with COVID-19, check if you are eligible to receive a payment or other financial assistance from the Commonwealth Government and/or your State or Territory government.

For further information see COVID-19: Government Assistance.

State and Territory Governments also provide a range of vouchers, rebates, concessions and other savings to help ease the cost of living. For further information see State and Territory Government assistance section below.

Rent or mortgage


Rent remains a high priority payment, so if you are struggling financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, check what special protections are in place in your State or Territory to limit evictions and rent increases, what your rights are if you have COVID-induced arrears, and what rent relief payments may be available to you.

For further information, see COVID-19: Rent.


Home mortgage

Australia’s banks have support available to small businesses and home loan customers who continue to be financially impacted by COVID-19.

The support is only available on application (so it’s best to call your bank to discuss your situation and access the support you need).

For further information, see COVID-19: Home loans.

If your lender is threatening legal action or is not being reasonable with your request for hardship assistance call one of our financial counsellors immediately on 1800 007 007 for advice.

COVID-19 and Sole Traders

If you are a sole trader, or small business, and you’ve experienced a reduction in your income because of COVID-19, travel restrictions or global supply chain disruptions, you may be eligible to receive financial support from your State or Territory government.

Support packages vary from State to State and will depend on a number of factors including the restrictions that were place, industry sector, and the level of lost income.

Find COVID-19 financial support for small business in your state or territory here.

You can also call 1800 413 828 to speak to a specialist small business financial counsellor on the Small Business Debt Helpline. This service provides free, independent and confidential advice to small business owners and sole traders in financial difficulty. The specialist financial counsellors can provide advice on a range of areas including government grants, disaster relief, loan repayments, bills, rent, bankruptcy and insolvency.  The website is

No Interest Loans (NILs)

No Interest Loans (NILs) are delivered by Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand in partnership with local community organisations. NILs provide access to safe, fair and affordable credit to people on low incomes to purchase essential goods and services.

The flexible range of loan purposes can also be used to help people who have experienced family and domestic violence to be safe at home, move to safety or rebuild their lives.

There is no interest or fees charged on a No Interest Loan.  Ever.  So you only pay back what you have borrowed.  For example, if a fridge cost $800 all you would pay back is $800.

You can borrow up to $2,000 for the cost of essential goods and services including:

  • Household essentials: for example, a fridge or washing machine
  • Health and wellbeing: for example medical and dental costs
  • Education and employment: for example, school activities and uniforms
  • Housing: for example, house repairs and hot water tank
  • Vehicle and transport: for example, car repairs and registration.

You may be eligible to borrow up to $3,000 to pay for specific things such as:

  • Rent advance and bond (paid to a real estate agent, not a private landlord)
  • Rent arrears (if caused by exceptional circumstances such as hospitalisation)
  • Council rates
  • Utility bills (only if you have or are experiencing family and domestic violence)

Loan repayments are set at an affordable amount over a period of up to 24 months.  There are no credit checks required for this loan.

NILs for Vehicles
is also available.  Loans of $2,000 to $5,000 for people and families on low incomes are available to purchase an essential vehicle for day-to-day use.  Loan repayments are set at an affordable amount over a period of up to 48 months.  A credit check is required for this loan.

No Interest Loans are not for cash – the loan funds are paid directly to the store you bought the goods from; the service provider, the real estate agent, council, utility provider, the person or dealership selling the vehicle.

Find out more about NILs and NILs for vehicles on our No Interest Loans (NILs) page here.

Temporary residents

If you are a temporary resident / temporary visa holder or do not have a visa with work rights, you may not qualify for Centrelink income support payments. This may leave you in severe financial hardship if you have lost your income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Red Cross – Emergency Relief for people on Temporary Visas

The Red Cross Emergency Relief and Extreme Hardship Support programs, that provided one-off direct financial support to temporary visa holders experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19, are now closed. Red Cross is currently only processing the remaining applications placed before 1 December 2021.

Red Cross will continue to receive applications for hardship support from temporary visa holders, people seeking asylum, and those with uncertain visa status, via the Red Cross Client Portal.

There is more information including how to apply here.

If you are worried that you do not have the right documents or need assistance with your online application, call Red Cross on 1800 733 276 between 9:30am and 4:30pm AEST Monday to Friday.

Red Cross – Family and Domestic Violence Financial Assistance Program

The program can provide financial support to people who are:

  • not Australian citizens or Permanent Residents, and
  • are experiencing or at risk of family and domestic violence, and
  • are experiencing financial hardship.

The Red Cross may be able to provide direct financial support of up to $3,000 to people eligible to help cover expenses such as accommodation, food and medical care.  They can also support referrals to specialist services.

There is more information, including how to apply, here.

If you need support to complete your application, call Red Cross on 1800 733 276 between 9:30am and 4:30pm AEST Monday to Friday.

Assisted Returns Program
The Federal Government – Department of Home Affairs may be able to provide eligible temporary visa holders with financial assistance to leave Australia voluntarily and return home under the Assisted Returns Program.

You might be able to get assistance to return home if you:

  • are living in Australia on a bridging visa or another type of temporary visa
  • are living in Australia without a visa or your visa has expired
  • arrived by boat or plane without a valid visa.

To check your eligibility and find out more here Assisted Returns Program.

Emergency assistance
Temporary residents may be able to access emergency relief for help with living expenses from charities and community organisations. See Food and Bills.

Some state and territory governments are also providing additional emergency relief to help temporary visa holders and international students during COVID-19.  See State and Territory Government Assistance.

International students
International students should check with their university or college about whether it provides any assistance or what other assistance may be available for their State or Territory.

Migrants should check with a migrant resource centre for other assistance that may be available.

State and Territory Government assistance

Financial assistance measures that may be available to support individuals, households and small businesses in your State or Territory change over time so it is worth checking back from time to time. Click on the relevant link below to find out more.

Australian Capital Territory

Cost of Living support:  The ACT Government has a range of discounts, rebates and subsidies to relieve cost of living pressures in areas like housing, transport, bills and dental care. Use the Savings Finder for a list of the savings that may be relevant to you and information on how to apply.

COVID-19 support:  Details on all assistance available can be accessed by calling the ACT Government COVID-19 helpline on 02 6207 7244 or at ACT Government COVID-19 Support

New South Wales

Cost of Living support:  The NSW Government has a range of rebates and savings available to help ease the cost of living for NSW residents.  These include Toll Relief, Energy Rebates, Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) vouchers, the NSW Spectacles program and more. See NSW Government – Cost of Living for more information or to use the Savings Finder to find rebates and savings you may be eligible for.

COVID-19 support:  Details on all assistance available can be accessed by calling the NSW Government COVID-19 hotline 13 77 88 or at NSW Government COVID-19 Support

Northern Territory residents

Cost of Living support:  The NT Concession Scheme provides concessions on a range of essential goods and services to help with living expenses.  See NT Government – Concession Scheme for more information.  You can also find information about emergency financial aid on the Northern Territory Government’s ShelterMe website.

COVID-19 support:  Details on assistance available can be accessed by calling the NT COVID-19 hotline 1800 490 484 or at NT Government COVID-19 Wellbeing Support.


Cost of Living support:  The QLD Government has a range of concessions and savings available to help ease the cost of living for QLD residents.  These include the Electricity Rebate Scheme, Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme, Bond loans and rental grants, Spectacle Supply Scheme, Oral health Scheme, and more.  See QLD Government – Cost of Living Support for more information.

COVID-19 support:  Details on all assistance available can be accessed by calling 13 74 68 or at QLD Government COVID-19 Support.

South Australia

Cost of Living support:  The SA Government has a range of concessions, benefits and grants available to help ease the cost of living for SA residents. These include energy bill concessions, School Card scheme, FuneralAssistanceSA, GlassesSA, and more. See SA Government – Concessions and Grants for more information.


Cost of Living support:  The Tasmanian government offers a wide range of discounts and concessions to individuals and households to help with the cost of living and access to essential services. These include annual electricity concession, private rental assistance, Student Assistance Scheme, Spectacles Assistance Scheme, and more. See TAS Government – Discounts and Concessions for more information.

COVID-19 support:  Details of assistance available can be accessed by calling the Tasmanian Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 or at Tasmanian Government COVID-19 Financial Services and Support.

There is more information here for temporary visa holders, including about Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants and other emergency relief and assistance.


Cost of Living support:  A range of concessions and grants are available to Victorians who are on low incomes or experiencing hardship and need help meeting the cost of living. These include the Utility Relief Grant Scheme, MyPost Concession Account, Victorian Eyecare Service, Bereavement assistance, and more. See VIC Government – Concessions and Benefits for more information.

COVID-19 support:  The Victorian Government is providing additional financial assistance and support to help individuals and business affected by COVID-19.  Details on all assistance available can be accessed at

Western Australia

Cost of Living support:  The WA government offers a range of rebates, concessions and financial assistance to individuals to help meet the cost of certain household bills and other essential services.   See WA Government – ConcessionsWA for more information.

Speak to one of our financial counsellors

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need some help to deal with your financial hardship, you can speak with one of our financial counsellors.

Financial counsellors aren’t judgmental about your circumstances – they’re here to offer you free, confidential and independent advice and assistance.

To speak to a financial counsellor you can:

  • Call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 – open Weekdays from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.
  • Use our live chat service by clicking the chat icon in the bottom right corner of your screen. Live chat is available 9:00am-8.00pm weekdays. If you send a message outside these hours a financial counsellor will get back to you.
  • Make an appointment to see a financial counsellor in your local area – Find a local Financial Counsellor.