If you’ve found yourself overwhelmed with debt in Australia, there is help available. Paying off credit cards, loans and other debt can take years, becoming a unmanageable spiral. Sometimes debt repayments become impossible without a little help. Fortunately, the government has resources to help.
What to Do Before You Go to the Government For Debt Help
Knowing there are options is great. But like all government processes, there’s a specific procedure. You can’t just expect the government to fit the bill for your debts. Here are things you should do before contacting Centrelink, the National Debt Helpline, or ASIC:
- Gather your bills and calculate the total amount of debt you owe.
- In a spreadsheet, sort out the total balance of each credit card (and other debt) and your interest on it.
- Create a worksheet listing your current income, bills, and expenses, including existing government payouts, such as pension.
- Sort your debts by type, as certain types of debt (such as utilities) have more options for resolution.
Centrelink Will Advise You on Money—For Free
When struggling with debt, it can be hard to know what type of assistance you need. One area of potentially relief is that of certain government benefits. Centrelink is there to help and provides a range of benefits that you may be unaware of. As peoples circumstances change, so do the benefits they may be eligible for.
A visit to your local Centrelink office or phone call can provide a range of financial assistance options including: new benefits, help with bills, financial counselling and more. Visit https://www.humanservices.gov.au/ for assistance.
Call the National Debt Helpline
The National Debt Helpline is a non-profit that provides professional assistance for free. They are unbiased, confidential and nonjudgmental . The NDH will advise you on a few things:
- The wisest course of action for your type of debt (this varies by situation)
- Negotiating new repayment terms with your creditors
- Review the rights of a debtor
- Provide the bankruptcy and its pros/cons
Call them at 1800 007 007.
Evaluation and actionable solutions is a huge part of what the National Debt Helpline does.
Contact ASIC: Australian Securities & Investment Commission
ASIC runs MoneySmart, a hub of financial information and resource. The website provides free independent advice on everything money. Access general information or very specific advice depending on need. Quickly find contact details to different departments for financial assistance options.
Main categories include:
Borrowing & Credit
The above resource are popular gateways to access assistance with debt and financial issues. Financial counsellors are another government sponsored resource for assistance
*This article is opinion only and should not be taken as financial advice. The information is general and has not taken into account your objectives, financial situation, or needs. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.