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Getting support and keeping safe after you leave a violent relationship.

3f. Financial assistance for living costs

Est. read time: 3 min

Escaping Family Violence Payment

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The Escaping Violence Payment program was recently introduced by the Federal Government and is available to anyone who is experiencing violence from their partners. This includes violent or threatening behaviour that is:

  • Physically, verbally or sexually abusive;
  • Emotionally, spiritually or psychologically abusive;
  • Economically abusive; or
  • Threatening, coercive, or seeks to control or dominate the other person.

If you are looking to leave an abusive partner, or have recently left and you are struggling with the finances to live your life in safety, you could be eligible for:

  • Up to $1500 in financial assistance such as vouchers for essential items;
  • Goods and services such as removalists, bonds or basics for a new home; and
  • Wrap-around support.

Wherever you are in Australia, you can access this payment and associated services by completing this form at the Uniting website.

Utilities

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Contacting your provider

If you're having trouble paying bills the first thing you should do is contact your provider. Most companies have hardship officers who can help you work out a plan to pay your bills in instalments. Some useful sources of information are:

If you have been threatened with a disconnection notice, seek help as soon as possible. Call your provider or the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.  Further information on disconnections and your rights can be found at the Economic Regulation Authority website.

Hardship Utilities Grant Scheme (HUGS)

HUGS provides a one off grant to help Western Australians experiencing financial hardship who are at risk of having their utilities disconnected, and sets up a payment arrangement. The maximum grant per applicant is $581 (or $962 for those living north of the 26th Parallel – approximately Shark Bay on the Western Australian coast). More information can be found at the Hardship Utilities Grant Scheme webpage.

Dependent Child Electricity Rebate

This provides assistance to eligible concession card holders with dependent children to meet electricity costs. The rebate is calculated according to the number of dependent children on your concession card. More information can be found at the Dependent Child Electricity Rebate webpage.

Phones and Internet

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Each phone and internet provider has a program for people in financial difficulty.  If yours isn’t listed below you can run an internet search on your browser using the name of your provider, such as ‘Telstra, financial hardship‘.  This should should get you to the right place.

Banks

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Each bank has its own options for people in financial difficulty.  If yours isn’t listed below you can run an internet search on your browser using the name of your bank, such as ‘Westpac, financial hardship‘.  This should should get you to the right place.

Further information on how banks can help can be found at 1b. How can your bank or financial advisor help when you are preparing to leave?

Assistance with rent

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Department of Housing rental assistance whilst in a refuge

If you rent a Department of Housing home and need to stay at Women's Refuge you can put in an application for the “absentee minimum rent” which reduces your rent to $10 per week for up to 3 months. Contact the Housing Authority on 1800 093 325

Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme

If you had a residential tenancy agreement in place on 29 June 2021 and are facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for the Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme up to the extended closing date of 31 December 2021.  You can apply for:

  • Rent support grants up to $2,000 if you have faced a significant rent increase you can’t afford; and
  • Rent arrears assistance to help pay a current outstanding rent debt incurred before 1 December 2020. Grants for 75% of the rent arrears up to a maximum of $4,000 will be paid directly to eligible landlords.

If you are eligible, you can apply for both grants, but you can’t receive both grants – the processing officer will calculate which grant will provide the greatest benefit.  You can find out more information at the Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme web page.

No Interest Loans for living costs

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Family and Domestic Violence No Interest Loans (FDV NILs)

The FDV NILs scheme offers loans without interest, fees or charges up to $2,000 to women who have experienced family and domestic violence within the last 10 years.  FDV NILs can be used to pay for essentials, goods and services such as white-goods, furniture, education, dental or car registration or repair expenses.  You must have a source of income so that you can afford to repay the loan.  Affordability is assessed during the loan application process.

The loans provide a safe and affordable alternative to high cost finance options such as payday loans or “rent to buy” plans which can promise fast cash but may end up worsening financial difficulties. Loans cannot be used for cash, debt consolidation or car purchases. Payments are made directly to your nominated supplier or retailer.  You can find out more about FDV NILs on the Good Shepherd website.

Covid hardship support and loans without interest

You may be eligible for household relief loans up to $3,000 for rent, rates, body corporate fees and utility bills – with no interest, charges or fees.  You can also get advice through a free COVID hardship support line.  Further information can be found by calling 1300 121 130 or at the Household relief website.

Other useful links

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[Article updated: 4/12/21]

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