Emergency assistance

If you're facing hardship and can't afford your rent - or even afford to eat - emergency assistance (often called emergency relief) from government and charities is available to help you in the short term.

There are also special grants to help you pay your utilities, and interest free loans to help with essential goods and services.

What to do if you need emergency help


Gather your financial documents

First of all, get your ID and financial documents together that show how much money you have coming in and out. This information will be required when you apply for any help.


Find your nearest emergency relief service

Use one of the following options:

  1. Use the online DSS Grants Service Directory at to identify funded services, including Emergency Relief. In the search filters, select your state and region from the drop down lists. Under Programme, select "Families and Communities". Under Service Type, select "Financial Crisis and Material Aid - Emergency Relief".
  2. See the directories on the Salvation Army website or call their national number on 13 72 58, or see the St Vincent de Paul website or call their Canberra office on (02) 6282 2722.
  3. Contact your local church, community centre or community organisation and find out where emergency relief is provided in your area.

When you speak to the provider explain your circumstances. They'll help you with the process of getting emergency relief.

Utiliy IconEmergency relief organisations

Don't feel ashamed or embarrassed to seek emergency relief - emergency relief organisations help all types of people from all walks of life. All you need to do is ask for help!

Salvation Army (1800 627 727)
Brotherhood of St Laurence (03 9483 1183)
Lifeline (131 114)
Beyond Blue (1300 224 636)
Gambler’s Help (1800 156 789)
Anglicare Victoria (03 9412 6133)

You local city council may have a list of other providers in your area.


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.

Other ways to get emergency assistance

Centrelink advances

If you receive an income support payment or Family Tax Benefit Part A and meet the qualification criteria, you may be eligible to receive part of your fortnightly payment in advance as a lump sum.

The amount of advance payment depends on how much you're paid each fortnight and which payment you're receiving. If you receive an advance payment, a portion of your regular payment will be deducted each fortnight for 26 weeks until the advance payment has been repaid.

In most cases, you can access a Centrelink advance payment twice a year.

Charity help

There are over 1300 outlets for emergency relief across Australia 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.

Mortgage Relief Scheme

Most states and territories have some form of mortgage relief scheme that can provide a grant or a loan if you're having trouble keeping up with your mortgage payments. Different help is available in different parts of Australia.

Read more about mortgage relief on our Home loans page.

No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS)

NILS provides no-interest loans for essential goods and services (such as fridges and washing machines, healthcare items, or car repairs).

To be eligible, you must have a Centrelink Healthcare 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.

More about NILS

Utility grants

There are a number of state, territory or federal-based utility relief schemes available to you if you are struggling to pay your bills.

Each scheme has its own eligibility requirements and is generally only available if you receive a Centrelink payment, or hold a Healthcare or Concession card.

To find out what utility relief schemes you may be eligible for, check on the back of your utility bill or with your supplier directly.

More about paying your utility bills