Bushfire Financial Hardship information
Details of Organisations providing financial assistance to customers affected by the bushfires
Please note: This information is public but has been compiled to assist financial counsellors and financial capability workers in their work with bushfire affected clients.
In this version you will find information from:
Banks: ANZ, NAB, Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Beyond Bank , Bendigo Bank and Westpac
Telcos: Telstra, Optus, Vodafone
Energy: AGL, Simply Energy, Energy Australia, Origin
Volunteer Firefighters Financial Support
Government: Centrelink, ATO, State Government grants, Fines, Motor vehicle registration
NILS and StepUp Loans, Latitude Finance, Foodbank, Scams, Insurance: Zurich, One Path
ANZ$500,000 allocated to support local community services as well as home loan customers who have lost their homes to bushfires and are suffering ongoing financial hardship.
Hardship support for customers through referral and funding to appropriate community counselling services.
Proactive contact with small business customers in affected areas.
ANZ's insurance partner QBE will prioritise claims and offer emergency payments and provide alternative temporary accommodation costs where needed.
ANZ's existing financial relief package includes measures such as the ability to suspend repayments on loans for up to three months as well as temporary interest rate relief for credit card and personal loan customers in extreme financial distress.
ANZ also extended special paid leave for employees who volunteer in emergency services to ensure they are financially supported while they serve the community.
NABOn 7 January 2020, NAB announced additional relief and recovery measures, including $2,000 grants for eligible business and agribusiness customers. More information here.
$1 million fund to help people affected by bushfires across Australia.
In recognition of the scale and severity of the bushfires, NAB has created the $1 million Disaster Relief Fund to give customers and employees displaced from their homes ready access to cash, as well as support in the months ahead as communities rebuild homes and businesses.
NAB customers who have lost homes this bushfire season can immediately access $2,000 grants to help cover costs such as temporary accommodation, food and clothing (further eligibility details at end). For information on how to access the grants contact the NAB Assist team on the dedicated number 1300 683 106 (8am-8pm Monday to Friday; and 9am-1pm Saturday AEST/AEDT). NAB employees who have had to evacuate their homes can also access a $1,000 grant.
The $1 million Disaster Relief Fund is in addition to the $250,000 already committed to bushfire affected communities in NSW, SA and QLD in the past two months. The fund will also be used to provide ongoing support during the rest of the year, as the scale of the impact of these natural disasters on people and businesses becomes clearer.
Other support measures NAB is providing include:
Financial relief measures for customers impacted by bushfire in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania (see notes for full details).
Dedicated hardship bankers from our NAB Assist team working on the ground in affected communities
Counselling support for our customers available via NAB's Employee Assistance Program
Customers in need of support should visit a NAB branch or call the NAB Assist team on 1300 683 106.
NAB's ongoing natural disaster financial relief measures include:
Credit card and personal loan relief where appropriate;
Suspending home and personal loan repayments;
Support to manage existing regional and agribusiness bank facilities;
Waiving costs and charges for withdrawing term deposits early;
Waiving home loan and personal loan application fees;
Support to restructure other existing bank facilities; and
Provision of support and counselling by making NAB's Employee Assistance Program available to customers.
Further assistance for customers who need help:
Visit their nearest open NAB branch, contact their banker directly or call NAB Assist on 1300 683 106 (8am-8pm Mon-Fri, or 9am-1pm on Saturdays AEST/AEDT).
Eligibility criteria for the $2,000 grant is centred around:
A current customer or employee of NAB Group. For customers: need to have been a customer on or before 2 January 2020 and hold at least one active account;
Have lost your primary place of residence during the current bushfire season (rent or own) meaning that the property is no longer in a liveable condition;
One grant per household (a household is defined as an address);
Only available for primary residences, not for investment properties.
All enquiries will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, with the NAB Assist team to determine eligibility.
CommBank's Emergency Assistance Package is for customers and businesses affected by bushfires, floods and storms.
Individual customers phone 1300 720 814 or visiting their nearest open branch.
Business customers, please call 13 26 07 or their dedicated CommBank relationship manager.
As part of the Bank's Emergency Assistance Package, a range of options, include:
Emergency accommodation assistance for CommInsure customers whose homes have been damaged by bushfire, flood or storms.
Expediting claims to CommInsure for customers seeking help through their home, contents and car insurance.
Customised assistance for Commonwealth Bank home loan, credit card and personal loan customers who may experience difficulties because of the bushfire, flood or storms.
Considering requests for additional loans including emergency credit limit increases (subject to credit approval).
Loan restructuring for business customers with existing loans.
Waiving prepayment charges for the month following the event, for affected customers wishing to access term deposits and Commonwealth Investment Bonds ahead of the maturity date.
Waiving other selected fees and charges.
In addition, the Commonwealth Bank has donated $250,000 to the Australian Red Cross. The Red Cross is providing financial support to those who have lost their home in a bushfire since July 2019. You can apply here for an emergency grant of $5,000. The Grant will be open until 30th April 2020.
Message to customers who are experiencing hardship as a result of the fires and need support, "please get in touch with us so that together, we can work out a way to make sure you and your family are ok. Please visit your nearest Beyond Bank branch if safe to do so, call us on 13 25 85 or send us a secure message via Internet Banking."
Customers who have sustained damage to your property and/or motor vehicle(s) as a result of these bushfires, and have insurance through Allianz, are encouraged to contact them directly on their claims line 1300 555 030, or online at Allianz Claims as soon as it is safe to do so.
Financial Difficulty Assistance message from Bendigo Bank
We understand the impact of the fires could affect you financially, that's why we have a plan in place to help you out.
The key features of the Assistance Package for bushfire affected customers include:
Home Loan and Business Loan customers can apply for relief on loans for up to three months
Credit card customers can apply for an emergency credit card limit increase
Discounted interest rates on new personal loans taken out by existing Bendigo Bank customers
Waiver of interest rate reduction for early withdrawals on term deposits prior to maturity
No 'loan break' costs for customers with a fixed rate who use an insurance payment to pay out their loan
Existing customers with home and contents insured through CGU Insurance can apply for emergency funds and temporary accommodation costs
Affected Bendigo Bank customers are advised to speak with their local Branch Manager, Business Banking Manager or contact our Mortgage Help Centre on 1300 652 146 regarding financial hardship and applying for assistance, or visit our help page.
If you are a Bendigo Bank Insurance customer with a damaged home, rental building, car or other property please get in touch with us. We can help you make a claim or offer advice. To make a claim on your Bendigo insurance policy, please call 13 24 80.
The bank's agribusiness specialist, Rural Bank, also provides a range of disaster assistance measures and will be working with impacted farming customers to understand their individual circumstances and apply the most effective means of support as they take the first steps towards recovery. Customers are advised to speak with their Relationship Manager, contact our customer service team on 1300 660 115 or visit: https://www.ruralbank.com.au/for-farmers/financial-hardship
Bushfire Relief Options
Westpac Group Disaster Relief Packages aim to offer immediate practical help to assist customers to manage the impact of natural disasters on their finances. This is available to customers in the effected disaster areas and extended to customers who are volunteering in the fire service during this time.
Grants of up to $2000 can be accessed to help cover temporary accommodation, food and clothing please use the below contact numbers to request.
Home loan Credit cards, term deposits and personal loans
Affected customers with Westpac home loans may apply to defer repayments for up to three months.
Affected credit card customers may apply to defer repayments to their card for up to 90 days.
Will waive interest rate adjustments for affected customers wishing to withdraw term deposits.
Affected Personal Loan customers may apply to defer repayments to their card for up to 90 days.
Westpac Group customers who wish to utilise these special relief measures or need assistance should use the following contacts
Westpac Assist on phone 1800 067 497, or alternatively call their local Westpac Branch.
St George, Bank of Melbourne and Banksa Assist on phone 1800 629 795 ,or alternatively call their local Branch.
Affected Westpac Group customers with Home and Contents insurance may be eligible to receive assistance including emergency funds and temporary accommodation.
Westpac Insurance: Contact us on 1300 369 989
St George Insurance: Contact us on 1300 655 489
13 January 2020
Westpac Group covers mortgage repayments, provides interest free and discounted loans to bushfire affected consumers and businesses
Westpac Group has today announced additional support for c
ustomers and communities impacted by ongoing bushfires across Australia.
For Westpac mortgage customers who have lost their principal place of residence due to the bushfires, Westpac will pay the customer's mortgage repayments for one year (up to $1,200 per month).
The Bushfire Recovery Support Package also includes interest free home loans for consumers who need to rebuild, low-interest loans for businesses, and an additional $2.5 million allocated for bushfire emergency cash grants taking the total to $3 million.
Peter King, Acting Chief Executive, Westpac Group, said Westpac is committed to helping customers and the community recover now and over the longer term.
"These initiatives are designed to provide practical, on the ground support for our customers, our people and for those who are caring for affected communities. In times of such unprecedented devastation, we want customers and communities to know we're here to help alleviate financial concerns so they can rebuild their lives, homes and businesses," Mr King said.
Together with existing measures in place, Westpac's Bushfire Recovery Support Package will include the following:
For mortgage customers who have lost their principal place of residence due to the bushfires, Westpac will cover the customer's mortgage repayments for one year (up to $1,200 per month)
Interest free home loans for customers to cover the gap between insurance payouts and rebuilding costs, approved subject to our credit criteria ($250 million allocation)
Up to $2,000 in emergency cash grants for customers whose properties have been destroyed or damaged by the bushfires
A grant of up to $15,000 to assist small businesses with the cost of refurbishing premises that have been destroyed during the bushfires
2.83% three-year variable rate, low-interest rebuilding loans for business customers, up to $1 million individual loans ($1 billion allocation)
Up to $2,000 emergency cash grants for customers whose business premises have been destroyed or damaged by the bushfires
No foreclosures for three years on any farming businesses in the affected areas
Fast tracked credit approvals to provide short-term assistance
An additional $2.5 million to provide emergency cash grants to customers in affected towns and regions, bringing the total available to $3 million
$500,000 donation to Financial Counselling Australia to provide financial counselling services to people in affected towns and regions to help them through the recovery and rebuild
Volunteer firefighters nationally can access the Disaster Relief Package
Appointing a new role, CEO, Bushfire Recovery, to lead the response. This includes mobile customer support teams for localised decision making.
"Anyone who needs assistance or support should contact their local branch, Relationship Manager or call our Westpac Assist team on 1800 067 497 as soon as possible to discuss their circumstances," Mr King said.
These measures are in addition to more than $1 million already contributed to community groups such as The Salvation Army Emergency & Disaster Appeal, state-based volunteer services, and state bushfire appeals.
All affected insurance customers should contact Westpac on 1300 369 989 so that we may assist. Claims can be lodged 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling this number.
For media enquires: Westpac Media Relations email@example.com
Long-term measures (for Telstra customers who have suffered severe damage to or loss of their premises):
Free call diversion from the customer's Telstra fixed phone service to another Australian fixed or mobile service of their choice, regardless of the carrier. This offer is applicable for a maximum period of 6 months from the date of the fire.
In addition, Telstra will apply a one-off credit to the value of $500 inc. GST to the customer's Telstra fixed phone account to help cover the costs of the following, if required: Connection of a Telstra fixed phone service at one temporary residence
Re-connection of a Telstra fixed phone service at the customer's original permanent premises
No information has been published on their website, but the policies in place so far are:
Bill waivers for December and January for all Fire fighters
Bushfire hotline 1300 301 671
Optus are setting up information tents in some of the recovery centres (including Kangaroo Island) where customers can speak to Optus staff about any issues they have.
Customers may be able to access a free handset with $30 of credit if they have lost their phone.
Vodafone will not be offering general credits, free phones, etc like Telstra or Optus. Instead, they will assess their customer's needs on a case by case basis.
Financial Counsellors can email requests for financial hardship arrangements to firstname.lastname@example.org
Customers can call Vodafone and request an extension on their phone account.
Vodafone will place a hold on collection, reminder sms's and disconnections for postcodes impacted by the bushfires.
More information will be uploaded on their website when Vodafone's policy has been formulated.
On their website
Bushfire alert Last updated: January 9, 2020
Last week, a State of Emergency/State of Disaster was declared in parts of New South Wales and Victoria due to the ongoing catastrophic bushfire conditions.
Additionally, a number of fires remain active in South Australia, Western Australia and across the country.
Our thoughts are with our customers and communities impacted by these devastating fires.
The safety of our customers, community and people is of paramount importance so if your home or business is in close proximity to the bushfires, please follow the advice of local authorities.
Support for volunteer firefighters and SES volunteers
AGL will support active volunteer firefighters and SES volunteers by providing them with a $150 credit per customer on their electricity or gas bills. The support is available to small business and residential customers.
Registered and active volunteer firefighters and SES volunteers should provide their volunteer ID number to AGL customer service staff and the credit will be applied to their next bill.
We know that at a time like this, energy bills are probably the last thing on the minds of volunteers.
But when they have time to think about their own position, they can contact AGL at their convenience on 131 245 at any time before 7 July 2020 to claim the credit. Our customer service centres are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
We thank all of our firefighters for their bravery because without their tireless efforts, this disaster could be so much worse.
Support for customers
AGL is monitoring the bushfire situation daily and will be supporting impacted customers. We know that at a time like this, energy bills are probably the last thing on people's minds, but when the time is right, we encourage all our customers who have been impacted and need help with your account please call us on 131 245 or contact us here.
Customers who have experienced significant loss as a result of the bushfires can also contact our dedicated bushfire relief helpline on 1300 001 545.
AGL supports customers experiencing financial hardship through AGL's Staying Connected program where they can receive assistance including (but not limited to) long-term payment plans, help accessing government grants/concessions, referrals to community sector partners and help managing energy costs.
On their website
5 January 2020
Support for bushfire-affected communities
Origin will donate $300,000 to the Australian Red Cross and state-based rural fire services to support communities affected by the ongoing bushfire crisis.
"Severe bushfires over the past two months have had a devastating impact on lives and property across the east coast," Origin chief executive officer, Frank Calabria, said.
"In recognition of the tens of thousands of volunteers who are working tirelessly to help members of the community affected by these tragic events, Origin will be donating $300,000 to the Australian Red Cross disaster relief fund, the New South Wales and Queensland Rural Fire Services and the Victorian Country Fire Authority to help them provide practical assistance where it is needed.
"We have been working closely with the NSW RFS on ensuring our generation assets, in particular, Eraring Power Station at Lake Macquarie and the Shoalhaven Pumped Hydro Scheme in the Kangaroo Valley, are prepared for the ongoing bushfire threat," Mr Calabria said.
Origin employees who volunteer for bushfire efforts will be eligible for increased community service leave and employee donations to bushfire-affected communities made through the Origin Foundation will be matched dollar-for-dollar.
Short and longer-term assistance is available to customers in bushfire and drought-affected areas. Customers experiencing financial difficulties can request a payment extension online in a few clicks through MyAccount or connect via Contact Us on our website. For longer-term relief, there is dedicated hardship assistance available.
"We encourage anyone who needs help with their account to contact us for assistance," Mr Calabria said.
Origin has committed a total of $400,000 to drought and bushfire relief and recovery causes this season.
More information for Origin customers impacted by bushfires can be found here.
See below message that Simply Energy is conveying to their customers. If they are in need of financial support they can call their team on 1800 065 475 and speak to an agent who will provide support including hardship.
On their website
"Our heart goes out to everyone across Australia whose lives and homes have been impacted by these devastating fires.
If you're an affected residential or small business customer of ours, please know that for the time being, we've put your energy bills on hold.
You don't have to do anything as we've applied these measures automatically. The last thing you want to worry about is your energy bills.
Our EnergyAssist support team is providing priority assistance to customers who have lost their homes or have been evacuated. Customers can reach us on 1800 120 084 or send us a direct message via Facebook and Twitter.
We encourage customers who need a continuous supply of power for their life support equipment to have their back-up plans ready to go in the event there are power losses, and to contact us with any questions.
Please take care and stay safe".
For anyone impacted in any way, ie perhaps not in the postcode areas but their employment has been affected, contact the EnergyAssist team.
Collections have also been put on hold
Those living in the areas under a "Watch and Act" message who haven't been impacted are also covered by these measures
Residents in the Adelaide Hills have been given an automatic 8 week extension on their water bills.Any customers who have used water to fight fires or protect property should contact SA Water on 130 729 283.
SA Water will review a spike in the customer's water usage, and refund 100% of the water used to protect against fires.
VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS' FINANCIAL SUPPORT PROGRAM
22 January 2020
The SA Government is administering the Commonwealth Government's Volunteer Firefighters' Financial Support Program, which is designed to help volunteer firefighters and SES volunteers who have put time into volunteering in the current fire season and have incurred a financial cost.
The program will provide payments to eligible volunteer firefighters and SES volunteers who are self-employed or employed by small and medium businesses and have lost income.
Payments of up to $300 per day, with a total cap of $6000, will be available in the 2019-20 financial year. The payments are tax-free and not means-tested.
If you'd like to register for a financial support payment, you can do so online.
Follow this link for more information and eligibility criteria.
South Australia. Message from the ATO
"We have automatically deferred monthly activity statement lodgements and payments due.
For monthly BAS due 21 January 2020 and 21 February 2020 the new deferred date is 21 March 2020.
You, or your agent, don't need to apply for a deferral.
If your postcode is listed below you are eligible for the automatic deferrals. Some postcodes below may cover several local government areas.
Following are the local government areas and postcodes in South Australia that have been granted through AGDRP in December 2019 and January 2020.
Adelaide Hills: 5052, 5072, 5073, 5076, 5114, 5125, 5131, 5132, 5133, 5134, 5136, 5137, 5138, 5139, 5140, 5141, 5142, 5144, 5151, 5152, 5153, 5154, 5155, 5156, 5157, 5231, 5232, 5233, 5234, 5235, 5240, 5241, 5242, 5243, 5244, 5245, 5252, 5351
City of Playford: 5110, 5112, 5113, 5114, 5115, 5116, 5117, 5118, 5120, 5121
Kangaroo Island: 5220, 5221, 5222, 5223
Lower Eyre Peninsula: 5606, 5607, 5630, 5631, 5632
Mount Barker: 5153, 5155, 5157, 5201, 5243, 5244, 5245, 5250, 5251, 5252, 5254
Yorke Peninsula: 5552, 5558, 5570, 5571, 5572, 5573, 5575, 5576, 5577, 5580, 5581, 5582, 5583
Additional postcodes may be added to the list once damage assessments have been finalised."
South Australian Bushfires - November 2019
Assistance is available if you can show you lost income or have been adversely affected as a direct result of the bushfires in South Australia in November and December 2019.
You have until 30 June 2020 to make a claim for the following Local Government Areas.
City of Playford
1. Disaster Recovery Allowance is a short term payment to help you if a declared disaster directly affects your income.
You can get it for a maximum of 13 weeks. It's payable from the date you lose income as a direct result of South Australian Bushfires, November 2019.
Disaster Recovery Allowance is a taxable payment. You can ask us to withhold voluntary tax deductions from your payments.
If you get Disaster Recovery Allowance you might be able to access Beneficiary Tax Offset. This reduces the amount of tax you may have to pay. You'll need to contact the Australian Taxation Office to find out more about this.
2. The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment is a one-off payment to help you if a declared disaster significantly affects you. It's not for minor damage or inconvenience.
You can choose to get this payment in 2 instalments if you prefer.
- How much you can get
- If you're eligible you will get:
- $1,000 per adult
- $400 for each child younger than 16.
3. Ex-gratia Disaster Recovery Allowance
Support for New Zealanders who can show they lost income as a direct result of the bushfires in South Australia in November and December 2019.
Ex-gratia Disaster Recovery Allowance is a short term payment to help you if a declared disaster directly affects your income.
You can get it for a maximum of 13 weeks. It's payable from the date you lose income as a direct result of South Australian Bushfires, November 2019.
Ex-gratia Disaster Recovery Allowance is a taxable payment. You can ask us to withhold voluntary tax deductions from your payments.
If you get ex-gratia Disaster Recovery Allowance you might be able to access Beneficiary Tax Offset. This reduces the amount of tax you may have to pay. You'll need to contact the Australian Taxation Office to find out more about this.
4. Ex-gratia Disaster Recovery Payment
Support for New Zealanders adversely affected by the bushfires in South Australia in November and December 2019.
If you're eligible you will get:
$1,000 per adult
$1,000 per partner or dependent adult
$400 for each child younger than 16.
How to claim
For information on how to claim, and any other grant information, go to:
SA GOVERNMENT GRANTS
The SA Government has published information regarding grants for people affected by Bushfires. https://dhs.sa.gov.au/services/disaster-recovery
Re-establishment Grants up to $10,000 for Bushfire Residents
Eligible South Australians who are uninsured and have had their principal residence damaged by bushfires can apply for grants of up to $10,000 to help them re-establish their homes.
Personal Hardship Emergency Grants
One off emergency grant. $700 per family or $280 per individual
For more information including how to apply please phone the Recovery Hotline on 1800 302 787 or visit an Emergency Relief Centre in SA.
Recovery grants for small business
A grant of $10,000 is available for eligible small businesses affected by the Kangaroo Island bushfires.
To apply, contact the SA Department for Innovation and Skills on 1300 142 820 or email DIS.SmallBusiness@sa.gov.au
Recovery grants for primary producers
A grant of $15,000 is available for eligible primary producers affected by the Kangaroo Island bushfires.
For more information, including eligibility criteria or to apply, phone the PIRSA Recovery Hotline on 1800 931 314 or visit the PIRSA website
Kangaroo Island Relief Centre
A new relief centre is now open for people affected by fires on Kangaroo Island.
Kingscote Football Club
Open 7.00 am to 7.00 pm every day.
This relief centre will provide a safe haven and other assistance for people who have left their home due to the fires.
Phone 1800 302 787 if you have been affected by the fire and need information and support.
If you have lost documents as a result of the December 2019 bushfires, you can access a priority service to replace birth, marriage and change of name certificates.
The Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages in any state will replace certificates free of charge. Free replacement certificates are restricted to documents for you and your immediate family.
More information is available on the sa.gov.au website.
The Law Society and the Legal Services Commission of South Australia offer free legal advice for those affected by a disaster.
Urgent legal advice
Contact the Legal Services Commission on weekdays between 9.00 am and 4.30 pm.
Phone 1300 366 424 to access the free telephone advisory service.
Non-urgent legal advice
The Law Society maintains a register of lawyers who have volunteered to be on hand to provide free legal assistance to victims of disasters.
"The Fines Enforcement and Recovery Unit (Fines Unit) proactively places the recovery of monies on hold for clients who have been affected by a natural disaster, including bushfires. This is a called Natural Disaster Hold and it initially applies for three months.
A Natural Disaster Hold means that the recovery and enforcement of debts are proactively ceased for those who have a debt with the Fines Unit and have been affected by a natural disaster. Affected areas and clients are identified through postcode data relating to the locations of the fires. A client who is identified to reside within an affected area is automatically placed on a Natural Disaster Hold.
The Fines Unit acknowledges that clients who reside outside the identified postcodes are still able to be significantly impacted by the bushfires. Clients that have been impacted by the fires - or their advocates - are encouraged to contact the Fines Unit.
Natural Disaster Holds may be extended beyond the initial three month period due to the extensive length in time which the fires have been active. Clients who have suffered financial loss, or lost or damaged property will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis following the expiration of the Natural Disaster Hold.
Affected clients are encouraged to contact the Fines Unit by visiting fines.sa.gov.au or calling 1800 659 538."
MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION
DPTI/Service SA are ensuring transactions such as the cancelation of registration for those vehicles destroyed in the bushfires are as simple as possible so refunds can be issued to these clients quickly. A simplified form has been uploaded to the sa.gov.au website.
DPTI/Service SA also provide the option to pay vehicle registration via direct debit (either monthly, quarterly or annually), which can help alleviate financial pressure by breaking down the bill into more manageable monthly payments. Any vehicle owners experiencing financial hardship are encourage to consider using this payment option and can manage their payments online via their mySAGOV account. More information on the direct debit process can be found on the sa.gov.au website.
In relation to financial hardship, the South Australian Government's financial support to people affected by the bushfire is being provided through the Department of Human Services Recovery Centres and any specific requests should be forwarded to them.
I trust this information will be of assistance.
A/Registration and Licensing Policy Manager
Policy and Strategy Regulation
Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure
NILS AND STEPUP LOANS
NILS Interest free loans up to $1500 for essential household items
The No Interest Loan Scheme offers people on low incomes safe, fair and affordable loans for fridges, washing machines and furniture, as well as education and medical expenses.
No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) Bushfire Relief Policy
For new & existing clients directly impacted by bushfire, Effective Date: Tuesday 14 January 2020
The following NILS Bushfire Relief Policy has been developed in response to the 2019/2020 Australian national bushfires. Policy change is required as this unprecedented disaster has destroyed more than 2,000 homes and more than 10 million hectares of land across Australia. Over 3,000+ people living in bushfire affected areas have a NILS loan.
The basic structure of the NILS application process remains the same as in Figure 1 below. There are, however, fundamental differences that better accommodate extenuating circumstances and highly complex needs that bushfire affected clients will be facing. The NILS Handbook policy and procedures will remain the same with the exception of the following amendments for new and existing clients who are directly impacted by bushfire.
NILS loans are provided to enable people living on low incomes the opportunity to purchase significant or essential household items, or a service, that improves their quality of life or enhances social and economic participation, where they would otherwise not be able to access fair and affordable credit.
All loan purposes are as outlined in the NILS Handbook.
Enter the following when applying for NILS under the Bushfire Relief Policy:
Under 'Loan Purpose' select 'Other'
Under 'Sub Loan Purpose' select 'Other (specify purpose)'
Manually write the specific loan purpose as 'Bushfire response policy (then add the purpose e.g. replacement fence)'
New NILS 'bushfire-relief' loan
Due to the recent bushfires we are aware of the varying needs of vulnerable people living in the bushfire-affected areas. NILS providers will likely receive a wider range of requests that are directly related to the bushfire disaster such as the purchase of hay, water tanks etc. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis by providers. Some loan purposes will continue to be specifically excluded (see below).
Excluded Loan Purposes
Items not available to NILS clients:
Living expenses such as food
Gas, electricity or phone bills
Debt repayment and consolidation
Second hand and refurbished electrical goods (except mobility scooter) and baby furniture
Outbound international airfares
Clothing (with the exception of school/sport uniforms)
Comprehensive or third party/fire/theft insurance premiums
Fines or penalties
Depending on their capacity to repay, eligible people directly impacted by bushfire can borrow up to a maximum of $2,000 through NILS. There is no minimum. (See the NILS Handbook: 3.7 Second Concurrent Loan).
To determine eligibility for the increased loan amount, it is only necessary for the applicant to advise the NILS worker that they have been impacted by bushfire (i.e. no additional documentation is required to confirm eligibility to apply for a loan of up to $2,000).
Note: It is important that providers follow normal processes to ensure that loan applicants have the capacity to repay the loan.
A loan term of up to 18 months will be considered. The loan term defaults to 12 months in myNILSapp, however this can be extended up to 18 months to ensure that the loan is affordable. A reduction in the loan repayment may be negotiated during the course of the loan to accommodate a change in circumstance, thereby extending the loan term.
A loan that is for a service (e.g. car registration) should have a loan repayment timeframe that matches or is shorter than the length of this service, usually 12 months.
Recording Loan Enquiries and New Loan Applications
Changes to required supporting documentation
Simplified documentation requirements are now in place for clients residing within fire-impacted areas to allow quick and easy applications:
Most recent 30 days bank statement (instead of 90 days)
ID (one form of ID from the approved list in the NILS Handbook accepted)
Where applicable the NILS worker can assist the client to obtain a quote. The NILS worker will work with the client and obtain other available information to make the most realistic assumptions to complete the budget where information is not available.
Changes required for myNILSapp
1. Fill out information as normal.
2. In the last screen of the application under Additional Notes, ensure that you include a note that the application is bushfire related. Include the following points where applicable.
a. If the application is for a loan purpose that appears 'grey', please include notes to explain this
b. If application amount is between $1,500 to $2,000 (beyond the minimum of $1,500) please add a brief explanation on this.
c. Other information you think necessary
3. Where applicable add notes that refer to the discussions with the client regarding their particular situation, including the impact from the bush fire.
Re-engaging With Clients Who Miss Payments
All efforts to assist the client to defer their repayments should be made upon their request. Guidelines for supporting existing NILS clients impacted directly by bushfire are seen in the flow-chart below.
If a client from a bushfire-affected region has not re-engaged with the provider and has ceased repayments, the provider can follow through on the guidelines provided in the NILS Handbook for re-engagement but keep in mind that care and understanding is shown due to the trauma the client may have encountered.
Writing off a loan
Please refer to the Flow Chart below for a guide on streamlining the write off process. It is emphasised that letters and SMS will not be sent once a client from an affected area is identified for write off so that no additional distress is caused.
The loan write-off will not impact the credit worthiness of the client for future NILS loans applications. Clients who have a NILS loan written off due to the bushfires, can apply for a loan in the future.
The write off reason (e.g. affected by bushfires, client deceased, client left area, incarcerated) must be captured at the time of write off in the loan management system.
StepUp Loans Low interest loans from $800 to $3000
Loans can also be used for other essential items such as whitegoods, furniture and computers, and education, car and medical expenses. Loans are repaid over three years and repayment plans are designed around the customer to ensure they're affordable.
MESSAGE FROM LATITUDE FINANCE
"We have created a small team within the Latitude Hardship Team to assist our customers that have been impacted and still going through the recent bushfires.
This number can be used by all financial counsellors to raise escalation for their customers ,this isn't to be confused with the existing FC line 1800 346 266
The direct number for customers impacted by the Bushfires is : 1300 858 151, please forward details to any relevant parties"
MESSAGE FROM FOODBANK SA
Has been appointed to manage the food relief efforts, including the delivery point for food donations (by both businesses and individuals) by those impacted by the devastating bushfires.
Foodbank SA has activated a food donation drop off point for those who want to donate food to the people affected by the SA bushfires. The main drop off point is at Foodbank SA, 377 Cross Rd, Edwardstown
Foodbank SA has a pivotal role to play in the State's disaster and recovery management.
State manager Emergency Functional Relief support group Paul Reardon said it was important for people to drop food donations at the right place.
"We know the South Australian community is extremely generous when it comes to helping people affected by bush fires" Mr Reardon said.
"It is important that those well meaning in the community do not head into fire zones or to emergency relief centres to make a donation. It is recommended that these food donations are made at foodbank to allow a managed food relief effort."
If you hear of any scams, contact ASIC or ACCC to report them or contact SAFCA
INSURANCE ZURICH AND ONEPATH LIFE
Zurich and OnePath Life are offering a two-month premium waiver for customers who have been impacted by Australia's worsening bushfire crisis.The premium waiver is on offer until March 31 to all Zurich and OnePath life insurance customers who have been:
- directly impacted by the fires (e.g. are unable to operate their business, have lost income, lost their home, need temporary accommodation), or
- volunteering in fire-impacted regions or are with emergency response teams (to the detriment of their own financial wellbeing).
"By waiving life insurance premiums for our customers impacted directly and for those supporting the firefighting efforts, we hope to ease some of the financial burden our customers face so they can focus on their immediate needs," Zurich said. "If you have clients experiencing hardship please reach out to your Business Development Manager to arrange the waiver."
The insurer also offers claims assistance and additional resources to impacted customers.
|Tags: SAFCA Bushfire|