What support is available if I have lost income?
Economic Justice Australia has useful resources about JobSeeker and about other Centrelink payments during COVID-19.
You may be able to access some financial assistance with your rent payments through the NSW Government, see information about Rent Choice Assist COVID-19 Response and follow the link here or call the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) Housing Contact Centre on 1800 422 322 (open 24/7) to register your interest. Note this support is limited and there is no guarantee you will receive the money. We do recommend you apply if your household is eligible as the government will decide who gets the money.
To be eligible for ‘Rent Choice Assist COVID-19 Response’, applicants must demonstrate they are within the low income limit at time of application and have been impacted by COVID-19, that is:
- one or more rent-paying members of a household have lost employment or income (or had a reduction in employment or income) due to COVID-19 business closures or stand-downs, or
- one or more rent-paying members of a household have had to stop working or reduce work hours due to illness with COVID-19 or due to COVID-19 carer responsibilities for household or family members.
An applicant must not own any assets that can be used to resolve their housing need. They must have less than $3,000 in cash. This does not include any recently accessed superannuation.
This product provides a private rental subsidy for up to twelve months. However, persons can only be assisted if their property falls within “reasonable market rent” and their affordability range. This ensures that they have the capacity to afford private rental accommodation at the end of the subsidy period.
It might be worth looking at the other rent assistance products available through DCJ to see if you meet eligibility requirements, especially if you were already struggling prior to COVID-19.
In addition you may be eligible for Rent Choice Assist (not to be confused with the COVID-19 Response) which is being trialled in four locations across New South Wales. It provides medium term rent support if you are in a low income household and have experienced a financial shock, such as loss of employment or illness, and need assistance to either maintain your current tenancy or access affordable accommodation in the private rental market. It's worth checking the other Rent Choice products: Rent Choice Start Safely, Youth and Veterans. The first and the third particularly may provide valuable assistance to households falling apart under the strain of ‘self isolation’. You can find more information here.
You can get free financial advice from a financial counsellor. See the Financial Rights Legal Centre website to find a service near you.
You can call the National Debt Hotline on 1800 007 007 for free and confidential advice from professional financial counsellors. The hotline is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.
You can also contact your financial institution regarding hardship arrangements. If you find yourself in dispute regarding your claim with a bank you can contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.