Steps to get help with financial hardship caused by domestic and family violence
The first thing you need to do is make sure you are safe from harm. Call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) if you need information, counselling and/or support (including putting together a safety plan).
If you are in immediate danger call 000.
Safety planning can help reduce the risk of you being harmed. It is recommended you get the help of a support service in making a safety plan.
Get legal advice because you may not owe or only partly owe some debts
If you were coerced or forced into getting a debt, you may have a case as to why you do not owe the debt at all, or only owe part of the debt. Speak to one of our financial counsellors and they can explain where you can obtain free legal advice (if needed).
If you can afford to pay something
Start paying the amount you can afford and get in touch with your creditors straight away to put a repayment arrangement in place. See below for tips on talking to your creditors.
If you can’t afford to pay anything
You may not be able to afford to pay anything for a little while if you have no income; are in temporary housing; or are homeless. One option may include negotiating a repayment arrangement where you make no payments for a short time while you get settled.
Call us on 1800 007 007 to go through your options.
Ask to speak to the hardship department of your creditors
If you are in financial difficulty a good place to start is with the hardship department of your creditors. Experiencing domestic and family violence is traumatic. Staff in the hardship teams of financial services providers and other organisations may also have received specialised training around family violence.
Staff in the hardship department are also more likely to have the authority to consider more flexible options.
Consider telling the creditor about the family and domestic violence
Many creditors have special assistance for people affected by family and domestic violence. You can access that assistance by telling the creditor about your experiences.
You do not need to provide evidence (e.g. court orders)
The creditor should believe you. You should not need to provide evidence, such as a copy of an Intervention Order. If the creditor insists on copies of orders, call us on 1800 007 007.
You do not need the permission of a joint account holder to make a repayment arrangement
You can make a repayment arrangement without obtaining the consent of any joint account holder.
Ask the creditor about safety
The creditor should make sure any action it takes does not make you unsafe. The best way to make sure the creditor does this is to ask the creditor to (if relevant):
– Make sure your details remain confidential and that there are systems in place to ensure your details remain confidential
– Let you know if information needs to be sent to a joint account holder
– Not ask you to contact the perpetrator (the person who is causing the harm)
Ask the creditor about your credit report
Ask the creditor to remove a default on your credit report if this will affect your ability to get a new rental property or access to other credit. This page will explain how to get your cedit report
If you can’t agree, dispute it
If you can’t come to an agreement that you think is fair, you have the right to seek “dispute resolution” if it’s available. These free and independent services give you an opportunity to explain how you can work with your creditors to get back on track with payments. Refer to dispute resolution.
If your creditor is a bank or other finance company
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority has a publication called The AFCA Approach to joint facilities and family violence, available here under the headline AFCA Approaches, which explains AFCA’s approach to family violence situations.
Speak to one of our financial counsellors
If your problem still hasn’t been solved, or you’re feeling overwhelmed, call us on 1800 007 007 to speak with one of our financial counsellors.