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Financial Assistance

Free community meals

The following lists services that offer food assistance or free meals on a regular basis:

PDF  Community meals and food relief (PDF, 36Kb)

MS Word  Community meals and food relief (Doc, 47Kb) 

Useful web sites

Ambulance travel

Concession cardholders are eligible for free ambulance and air ambulance travel anywhere in Australia in an emergency or on the recommendation of a doctor.

Bereavement allowance

The Bereavement Allowance helps the surviving member of a couple who was not receiving income support before bereavement to adjust to their changed financial circumstances following the death of their partner. The allowance is generally payable from the date of the partner’s death and is subject to an income and asset test.

Bereavement assistance

Bereavement assistance Ltd is a charitable funeral director, registered with the Australian Charities & Not-For-Profits Commission.  They provide low-cost funeral services for those of the Victorian community who have limited or no funds. 

They relieve poverty and distress by providing practical assistance: a dignified funeral service where the alternative is a ‘pauper burial’ or an expensive funeral that relatives or friends cannot afford.

Bereavement payment

Bereavement Payment helps ease the adjustment to changed financial circumstances after the death of your partner, child or person you were caring for. 

Eligibility basics:

  • your partner has died while you were both receiving a payment from us or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • someone you were caring for has died
  • your child has died
  • your baby was stillborn

Burial of persons with insufficient means 

State Trustees may be able to assist with the burials for those with insufficient means. State Trustees can assume responsibility for financing and arranging the plot and funeral of deceased persons reported to the Coroner, who have assets of less than $1000.

Centrelink advance payment scheme

Centrelink provides an Advance Payment Scheme that provides lump sum payments in advance from future Centrelink payments. The advance must be repaid, as it is essentially an interest free loan.

The advance amount must be between $250 and $500. The advance is repaid through fortnightly deductions from the pension or allowance.

To be eligible the beneficiary must demonstrate that they can repay the advance and still have enough money for day-to-day expenses.

Centrelink financial information service

The Financial Information Service is a free, confidential service that provides education and information on financial issues to all Australians.

Debt Problems: the law, your options (booklet from Victoria Legal Aid)

This booklet is now available to help people in debt.  Being in debt can be a very stressful time and it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the legal processes.  

Are you getting demands for payment? Are you getting legal notices and letters about money you owe? Being visited by debt collectors? Feeling hassled? You can get legal help and see a financial counsellor to:  work out what you really owe,  decide what to do, make a plan you can afford and feel more in control.

Emergency relief

Several welfare organisations provide emergency relief in the form of food, clothing and household goods such as second-hand furniture and blankets, for people experiencing a severe financial crisis.

Energy Concessions

The Department of Human Services (DHS) offers a variety of concessions and benefits to eligible cardholders to assist low-income Victorians with energy bills. If you have a relevant concession card, you may be eligible for one of these concessions.

Financial Assistance and compensation - Victims of Crime

If you are a victim of crime, you may be able to:

  • apply for financial assistance through the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal
  • get compensation from the person who committed the crime or through civil court action.

Financial counselling - EACH

The Financial Counselling service is free to low income earners and Centrelink recipients living or working in the City of Maroondah, the City of Knox, Healesville, Yarra Junction and the surrounding areas.

Financial counsellors can offer:

  • A free and confidential service
  • Assessment of your financial situation
  • Advice if you can’t pay bills, fines or debts
  • Assistance to work out payments with creditors
  • Help with budgeting
  • Information about bankruptcy
  • Information about possible government assistance
  • Consumer information
  • Information about your legal rights 

Good Shepherd Microfinance

Good Shepherd Microfinance offer people on low incomes loans and other people-centred financial programs at 650 locations across Australia. They enable people to define and then to realise their own economic wellbeing and to feel valued and in control of their finances and lives.  Find a provider

Living in Public Housing - Making alterations to your home

Changes for disability or health and safety reasons

If you need to make changes for disability or health and safety reasons, like if you need handrails or ramps, speak to your housing services officer about how to get them made.

These changes are known as modifications. In most cases, modifications are provided free of charge when you ask for them and can give us a letter or a report from your occupational therapist or doctor.

How do I request a modification?

You can submit a request for aids, adaptations and disability modifications.

To do this, you may include:

  • A letter
  • An application for special accommodation requirements form (.pdf) or the accessible version of the application (.doc)
  • A report completed by a health care professional, like an occupational therapist or a health professional relevant to your disability.

The information you give us must confirm the need and urgency for the changes. It must also detail the type of modifications needed.


Tools and advice to help you manage your money and debt

Mortgage Relief Scheme

This scheme helps people that are having trouble paying their home loan after an unavoidable change in their lives. This could be because of short-term unemployment, sickness or some other circumstance that has reduced their income.

If you are eligible, you can get a short-term interest-free loan to help you make your mortgage repayments.

This scheme helps you until you can start making your scheduled loan payments or the agreed assistance period expires – whichever is the earlier.

Municipal rates concession

The Municipal Rates Concession provides a 50 per cent discount off council rates up to a yearly maximum of $208 in 2014-2015. The concession is available to homeowners and must be for their principal place of residency.

The Municipal Rates Concession fact sheet is available to download on this site.

Municipal Rates Concession fact sheet


You must hold at least one of the following concession cards:

Pensioner Concession Card or DVA Gold Card

No interest loan scheme

What is NILS?

The NO INTEREST LOAN SCHEME (NILS) provides individuals and families on a low income access to safe, fair and affordable credit.


Maximum loan amounts may vary, but credit can start from $300 up to $1200 for essential goods and services. Once your application is approved, repayments are set up at an affordable amount over a 12 to 18 months period.

With NILS, no credit checks are made as this is a program based on trust and respect. 

Loans are generally available for the purchase of essential goods and services.

These may include:

Household items like fridges, freezers, washing machines, stoves, clothes dryers and some furniture
Some medical and dental services
Educational essentials such as computers and text books
Some other items as requested.

Programs are run by local community organisations at over 600 locations across Australia.

To qualify you must:

Have a Health Care Card/Pension Card or be on a low income
Reside in your current premises for more than 3 months
Show a willingness and capacity to repay.


Postbillpay is a comprehensive bill payment service offered by Australia Post to help meet the needs of our valued customers – providing a convenient and trusted bill payment service in person, by phone and on the Internet.

Problem Gambling

Gambler's Help is a free service for people who are affected by gambling. The services provided by Gambler's Help include:

Free, professional, confidential counselling for people for whom gambling is an issue

Counselling for the family and friends of people for whom gambling is an issue

Financial counselling to help people with gambling-related money problems

Community education and helping communities reduce the negative effects of gambling

Rent Assistance

Rent Assistance is a non-taxable income supplement paid to eligible people who rent in the private rental market. Pensioners, allowees and those receiving Family Tax Benefit Part A may be eligible for Rent Assistance.

State Schools' Relief for Students

If you have a family who is struggling to meet the costs of school uniforms, shoes, books and stationery for their children, you may be able to receive these for free or at a discount through State Schools’ Relief.

Step-up low interest loan

Good Shepherd together with the National Australia Bank developed a low interest personal loan product called stepUP Loan. stepUP is available to holders of a Health Care Card or recipients of Family Tax benefit Part A who do not have access to other financial services. Loans to date have been for the purchase of household furniture, computers, and second hand motor vehicles.

Utility Relief Grant and Non-Mains Utility Relief Grant schemes

The Utility Relief Grant Scheme and the Non-Mains Utility Relief Grant Scheme provide assistance for domestic customers who are unable to pay their utility bills due to a temporary financial crisis.

Assistance may be provided to low-income households suffering a short-term (within last 12 months) financial crisis who are unable to pay for a current utility account or LP gas account and who are at risk of disconnection, restriction of supply, or non-supply of gas bottles.

The Utility Relief Grant Scheme is also available to eligible customers who experience difficulties paying for other non-mains sources such as carted water and heating oil.

Telephone allowance

Helps with the costs of maintaining a telephone and a home internet service.

Telstra bill assistance program

The Telstra Bill Assistance Program is aimed at assisting people who are experiencing financial difficulty and are having a problem paying their Telstra bill.

Participating community agencies are able to provide clients with a Telstra Bill Assistance Certificate of a fixed amount to pay towards their Telstra bill.

Telstra funds the program and participating Community Agencies distribute the program on Telstra's behalf.

How does an agency join the Telstra Bill Assistance Program?
To be eligible to join, agencies must:
•directly receive Commonwealth and / or State emergency relief funding and/or provide material aid/ financial cash relief assistance as a normal part of their operation based on a careful assessment of client needs
•be an incorporated not-for-profit body.

To apply, contact the lead administrative Community Agency in your State. Refer to the List of State Contacts (PDF, 50kB)

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