Types of crisis assistance
The Commonwealth and Victorian Governments occasionally provide limited one-off financial assistance to people impacted by disasters. You may be able to apply for an immediate income support payment 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. This page provides links to relevant schemes run by the federal and state governments for people in Victoria.
Disaster Recovery Allowance
The Commonwealth Government’s Disaster Recovery Allowance assists people who have been adversely affected by disasters in various local government areas. More information about help in an emergency is available at .
Advance lump-sum payment for people on benefits
You may receive part of your Centrelink income support payment or Family Tax Benefit (Part A) 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 website.
Crisis payment for people on benefits
This is a one-off payment. To be eligible to receive this payment you must be eligible for an income support payment or ABSTUDY Living Allowance and be experiencing severe financial hardship. This may include situations where:
- you're affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)
- you've experienced family violence
- you've had to leave your home because of extreme circumstances
- you've entered Australia as a Humanitarian Entrant for the first time
- you've been released from prison or psychiatric confinement.
To receive this payment you must be:
- ineligible for any other income support payment
- in severe financial hardship for reasons beyond your control.
Carer adjustment payment
This is a one-off payment 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
- receive Carer Allowance for the child
- have a very strong need for financial help
- not be receiving the Carer Payment through yourself or your partner
- unable to receive another income support payment from the Commonwealth Government.
Additionally, your child must:
- need this care for at least 2 months
- have the severe medical condition or disability because of a catastrophic event.
Additional Child Care Subsidy Temporary Financial Hardship
To be eligible for this temporary subsidy, you must:
- be eligible for the Child Care Subsidy
- have experienced temporary financial hardship due to an event that happened in the last 6 months (including COVID-19)
- have a substantially reduced ability to pay child care fees.
Pension loan schemes
This scheme 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 age
- you receive or are eligible to receive a qualifying pension
- you 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
- you agree to the terms and conditions of the Pension Loan Scheme.
Early release of superannuation
You may be able to obtain an early release of your superannuation to help with unpaid expenses. You can apply based on compassionate grounds to the Australian Taxation Office or apply on severe financial hardship grounds to your super fund.
DFFH Personal Hardship Assistance Program
The Personal Hardship Assistance Program offers two different types of funds:
- emergency relief assistance
- emergency re-establishment 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 meet eligibility requirements. This payment is provided to help meet immediate needs, including food, shelter, clothing, medication and accommodation. This assistance is not currently available for a major emergency.
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 for more information (local calls free within Victoria, except mobile phones).
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
- the losses or damage must not be covered in part or in whole by your insurance
- you meet certain income tests.
Other free and voluntary services
You can use 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.
- tips for handling your insurance claim after an emergency
- tips for buying the right insurance
- the risk of under-insuring.
Where to get help
Reviewed 10 October 2022