Disaster Legal Help Victoria

Emergency and crises assistance

The Commonwealth and Victorian Governments occasionally provide limited one-off financial help to people who suffered loss as a result of declared natural, environmental or other disasters. This page provides links to relevant schemes run by the Commonwealth and Victorian governments for people based in Victoria.

Commonwealth Government

The Commonwealth Government’s Disaster Recovery Allowance assists people who have been adversely affected by natural disasters in various local government areas.

More information about help in an emergency is available on the Commonwealth's Department of Human Services websiteExternal Link .

Other payments to help you in a crisis

You may be able to apply for an immediate income support payment. This is available even if you are not already receiving a Centrelink benefit. The type of payment or assistance that you may be able to receive will depend on your circumstances. Examples include:

Advance lump-sum payment for people on benefits

You may receive part of your Centrelink income support payment, Family Tax Benefit (Part A)External Link early. You are required to pay it back later out of your payments from Centrelink. To assess your eligibility for an advance payment, visit the Services Australia websiteExternal Link .

Crisis payment, for people on benefits

This is a one-off paymentExternal Link . To be eligible to receive this payment you must be:

  • in severe financial hardship. This may include situations where:
    • you're affected by coronavirus (COVID-19);
    • you've experienced a family and domestic violence incident;
    • you've had to leave your usual home because of extreme circumstances;
    • you've entered Australia as a Humanitarian Entrant for the first time; or
    • you've been released from prison or psychiatric confinement; and
  • eligible for an income support payment or ABSTUDY Living Allowance.

Use the Commonwealth Government's Payment and Service finderExternal Link to check if you are eligible.

Special benefit

To receive this paymentExternal Link you must be:

  • ineligible for any other income support payment; and
  • in severe financial hardship for reasons beyond your control.

If you are not eligible for any other income support, please read the rules to see if you can receive the Special Benefit.

Carer adjustment payment

This is a one-off paymentExternal Link if your child under 7 years of age contracts a severe illness or has a major disability.

To receive this one off payment you must:

  • Provide full-time care for a child under 7 years of age who has either:
    • a severe medical condition; or
    • a severe disability
  • you must receive Carer Allowance for the child;
  • you must have a very strong need for financial help;
  • the child must need this care for at least 2 months;
  • the child must have the severe medical condition or disability because of a catastrophic event; and
  • you and your partner cannot be getting the Carer Payment or be able to get another income support payment from the Commonwealth Government.

For more information on the time limit to apply and examples of Catastrophic events, visit the Time limit to apply and Catastrophic events pageExternal Link .

Additional Child Care Subsidy Temporary Financial Hardship

To be eligible for this temporary subsidy, you must:

  • Be eligible for Child Care SubsidyExternal Link ;
  • have experienced temporary financial hardship due to an event that happened in the last 6 months, including COVID-19; and
  • have a substantially reduced ability to pay child care fees.

You can find out about the Additional Child Care Subsidy Temporary Financial Hardship on the Commonwealth WebsiteExternal Link .

Pension loan schemes

This schemeExternal Link allows older Australians to receive a voluntary non-taxable fortnightly loan from the Commonwealth. You and your partner may use this to supplement your retirement income.

You must meet all of the following criteria:

  • You or your partner are of Age Pension ageExternal Link ;
  • you receive or are eligible to receive a qualifying pensionExternal Link ;
  • you own, or your partner owns, real estate in Australia that you can use as security for the loan;
  • you have adequate and appropriate insurance covering the real estate offered as security;
  • you are not bankrupt or subject to a personal insolvency agreement; and
  • you also need to agree to the terms and conditions of the Pension Loan Scheme to get a loan.

Early release of your superannuation

You can obtain an early release of your super to help with unpaid expenses. You can apply based on compassionate grounds from the Australian Taxation OfficeExternal Link . You can find out more about eligibility on the Australian Taxation Office websiteExternal Link . If you are in severe financial hardship, you can make an application to your super fundExternal Link .

Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment

You may be eligible if the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services or one of their agents has told you to self-isolate or quarantine. If you are a member of a couple, you can both claim this paymentExternal Link . You and your partner must complete separate claim.

To be eligible you must also meet all of the following:

  • you are at least 17 years old;
  • you are an Australian residentExternal Link or hold a visa that gives you the right to work in Australia;
  • you are unable to go to work and earn an income;
  • your quarantine period or caring is on or after 5 July 2020; and
  • you have no appropriate leave entitlements, including pandemic sick leave, personal leave or leave to care for another person.

Crisis Payment for National Health Emergency (COVID-19)

This is a one-off paymentExternal Link if you are affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

To get this you must:

  • be eligible for an income support payment or ABSTUDY Living Allowance;
  • be in severe financial hardship;
  • be in Australia when you claim; and
  • have proof of a COVID-19 test requiring you, or the person you are caring for, to enter quarantine or self-isolation.For more information, call the Commonwealth Department of Human Services:

Help in an Emergency 180 20 66, Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm.

Farmer assistance 132 316, Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm.

Other free and voluntary services to help you in a crisis

The Commonwealth Government has a range of services to help you in a crisis.

The Commonwealth Government's social workersExternal Link provide short-term counselling, information and can refer you to other services, including mental health support services.

The Commonwealth Government's Community Engagement OfficersExternal Link help you access payments and services if you find it hard to access them, and connect you with other support services you need.

You can use CentrepayExternal Link to pay bills and expenses as regular deductions from your Centrelink payments. This can make it easy for you to budget. Centrepay also provides a range of other services and information to help you manage your payments or get extra support.

The Financial Information ServiceExternal Link (FIS) can help you when you need to make decisions about your current and future financial needs. To speak to the FIS, call on 132 300 or to find out more, visit the Commonwealth websiteExternal Link .

Victorian Government Department of Families, Fairness and Housing

The Victorian Government Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) websiteExternal Link has information on how it can give financial crisis support to you and your family if you are caught in a major emergency – such as a bushfire, severe storm, flood or earthquake.

Other financial support to help you in a crisis

Personal Hardship Assistance Program

In the aftermath of an emergency, you and your household might be eligible for emergency funds from the Personal Hardship Assistance ProgramExternal Link run by Victoria’s DFFH.

The Personal Hardship Assistance Program offers two different types of funds: emergency relief assistance, and emergency re-establishment assistance. If you qualify, you could receive money from either or both of these schemes, depending on your situation.

Emergency Relief Assistance

The DFFH can provide you with a one-off emergency relief payment after a house fire or any other natural emergency, provided that you and your needs meet eligibility requirements. This payment is provided to help meet immediate needs, including emergency food, shelter, clothing, medication and accommodation. This assistance is not currently available for a major emergency.

Emergency relief payments are paid to recipients using prepaid debit cards. To read more about what the card can be used for, please visit the Victorian State Government WebsiteExternal Link .

In order to be able to receive emergency relief assistance, you must discuss your circumstances with a DFFH officer – usually within seven days of the emergency. Please call on 1300 475 170 (local calls free within Victoria, except mobile phones).

Emergency Re-establishment Assistance

You can apply for Emergency Re-establishment Assistance if your main residence has been destroyed or has been so badly damaged that you cannot live in it without major repairs. Assistance can also be paid if you cannot return home for more than a week after an emergency.

  • To receive Emergency Re-establishment Assistance you must meet the following eligibility conditions:
  • Your home must be uninhabitable or inaccessible for more than 7 days because of a natural disaster.
  • You must meet income-tests.
  • The losses or damage must not be covered in part or in whole by your insurance.

If you require this type of assistance, you can contact DFFH on 1300 475 170 to discuss your needs.

MoneySmart

MoneySmartExternal Link is an initiative of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to help people with their financial matters. Their guide to managing insurance issues after an emergency covers:

  • Tips for handling your insurance claim after an emergency
  • Tips for buying the right insurance
  • The risk of under-insuring.

Other support from the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments to help you further in a crisis

In some circumstances, the Victorian and Australian Governments may offer other personal hardship assistance or support. Information will be available at relief centresExternal Link .

Further information

If you need more information about getting emergency relief assistance from the Victorian Government, you can either visit their websiteExternal Link and click the relief & recovery tab; or download the VicEmergency App; or call the VicEmergency hotline on 1800 226 226.

Reviewed 22 March 2022