COVID -19 changes: Emergency financial assistance

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a challenging time for everyone in Australia (and the world). This is a guide to the financial assistance that you can access if you are struggling to meet your basic needs. Information is also included on emergency assistance for temporary residents.



Read an overview of emergency assistance here.


On this page:

  1.  Three changes you need to know about

  2.  What do the changes mean?

  3.  Food and bills

  4.  Centrelink crisis or emergency payments

  5.  No Interest Loans Scheme

  6.  Temporary residents

  7.  Speak to one of our financial counsellors


Three changes you need to know about

  1. The Commonwealth Government has committed extra funding for emergency relief funds to charities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. State and Territory Governments have committed extra funds to assist with financial support
  3. Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments have committed funds to assist temporary residents.



What do the changes mean?

It means that if you are struggling, it is worth checking what financial assistance is available to help 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.


Centrelink crisis or emergency payments

There are two possible emergency payments you may be able to get from Centrelink:

  1. Crisis payment – you may apply for a special crisis payment if you are in severe financial hardship, experienced a extreme life change (for example, family violence), a natural disaster, and/or quarantine/self-isolation (including a carer for someone in quarantine/self-isolation) due to COVID-19. For details see National Health Emergency (COVID-19).
  2. Advance payment – if you already get a Centrelink payment you may qualify for an advance payment. You will need to pay this back over time out of future payments from Centrelink.


No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS)

NILS provides no-interest loans for essential goods and services (such as fridges and washing machines, health-care items, or car repairs). For example, if a fridge costs $800 all you would pay back is $800.

To be eligible, you must have a Centrelink health-care or pension card (or qualify for one). You must also show that you can, and are willing to, repay the loan within 12 or 18 months. No Interest Loans (NILS) for anyone adversely impacted by the Coronavirus will be available soon. More about NILS.


Temporary residents

If you are a temporary resident you may not qualify for JobSeeker or JobKeeper. This may leave you in severe financial hardship if you have lost your income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Specific assistance for temporary visa holders – Red Cross Safety Net

The Federal Government has committed funds to the Red Cross to assist temporary visa holders. Eligibility criteria for Red Cross Safety Net is that people:

  • Are in Australia on a temporary visa
  • Are in urgent financial hardship
  • Cannot access Centrelink, Medicare or similar services
  • Have no income, savings or other financial support (including from family overseas)


Emergency assistance

Temporary residents may also be able to access emergency relief. See “Food and Bills” above.


International students

International students should check with their university about whether it provides any assistance.



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


State and Territory Government assistance

Australian Capital Territory 

Assistance has been announced for Temporary Visa Holders and international students living in the A.C.T. Further funding has been provided to the ACT Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Humanitarian (RASH) Coordination Committee, the Australian Red Cross and local tertiary institutions.

New South Wales 

No specific assistance has been announced to date.

Northern Territory residents 

Worker and wellbeing fund is available for people who have lost their job or have reduced income because of COVID-19 and are not already receiving financial support, including Centrelink.

The Red Cross has also partnered with Melaleuca Refugee Centre to provide emergency financial support for international students and Visa holders. Contact Red Cross on 0403 987 018.


Qld has announced financial support for international students. Details and eligibility requirements are available at Study Queensland.

South Australia 

The South Australian Government has announced the International Student Support Package which includes extra funding for universities (in SA) and emergency crash grants of $500.


Tasmania has announced assistance for temporary visa holders which includes one-off payments of $250 for individuals or up to $1000 for families in financial hardship. See Emergency Support for vulnerable Tasmanians.


The Victorian Government has announced assistance for international students in Victoria. Students with a demonstrated loss of income can get a payment of up to $1100. Further information and how to apply here.

Western Australia 

The Western Australian government has launched StudyPerth Crisis Relief for international students. It will assist students to access emergency accommodation, supplies and healthcare.


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.


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