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Where to get help if you have debt

If you have ongoing debt that is making your life difficult, debt consolidation may be able to help streamline your debts. However, becoming completely debt-free can take considerable work, and it is never too early or too late to reach out for professional assistance.

Figures released over the years by the ABS show that the majority of Australians (73%) are in debt, and more than a quarter (28%) of these households are classified as “over-indebted”, meaning the debt is more than three times their annual disposable income.

If you or someone close to you is experiencing problems with debt, seeking out assistance is the first step in gaining financial stability, managing your existing debt, and becoming debt-free for life.

Find the support you need from the list below and request assistance today.

National Debt Helpline (phone or online)

The National Debt Helpline website is a great starting point if you’re not sure where to begin or who to call about your existing debt.

The website provides step-by-step guides on how to identify debt problems, repay existing loans and debts, and how to handle debt in complex or unique situations. The National Debt Healthline also has an online chat function that can be used directly through their website.

Alternatively, the National Debt Helpline is a free and confidential service you can use to connect with a professional financial counsellor for advice on your debt. Their helpline is open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday, and can be reached on 1800 007 007.

Financial counsellors can offer assistance with:

  • Managing debts and determining repayments
  • Negotiating payment terms
  • Applying for government benefits or emergency assistance
  • Support services
  • Advice on bankruptcy and debt agreements

MoneySmart

ASIC's MoneySmart is a hugely resourceful website that provides information on managing debt and building wealth. The website aims to help Australians manage their finances through free tools, tips, and advice, including:

Government Support

MoneySmart outlines the available financial assistance from the Government if you have been financially impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and you can find your local support contacts for housing and emotional support below.

Housing support (phone and online)

Housing support is available from your local state or territory government. These support networks are used to provide emergency temporary accommodation where possible in your area and may be able to assist with other costs such as rental bonds.

State/territory housing departments

Australian Capital Territory Housing and Community Services ACT OneLink 1800 176 468 8 am to 6 pm, Monday to Friday 12:15 pm to 3:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday

New South Wales Family and Community Services Link2home 1800 152 152 24 hours

Northern Territory ShelterMe

Queensland Homeless Hotline 1800 474 753 24 hours

South Australia Homelessness Gateway 1800 003 308 24 hours

Tasmania Housing Tasmania Housing Connect 1800 800 588 24 hours

Victoria HousingVic 1800 825 955 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday 24 hours on weekends and public holidays

Western Australia Entrypoint Perth 1800 124 684 (includes regional WA) 9 am to 7 pm, Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm, Saturday Closed public holidays

Emotional support (phone and online)

Many people underestimate the impact of debt on their ongoing wellbeing and mental health. If you’re experiencing additional hardship and require free and confidential guidance, you can reach out to one of the support networks listed below.

Support helplines in Australia

Crisis support Lifeline 13 11 14 24 hours Lifeline's crisis support online chat

Depression or anxiety Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36 24 hours Beyond Blue's webchat (3 pm to 12 am)

Sexual assault, domestic or family violence counselling 1800RESPECT 1800 737 732 24 hours

Alcohol or other drug use Family Drug Support Australia 1300 368 186 24 hours

Gambling Gambling Help Online National Gambling Helpline 1800 858 858 24 hours

Disputes and complaints

If your financial concerns are due to external payment issues or ongoing disputes, you may wish to seek advice from the relative industry ombudsmen. You can find a list of ombudsmen dispute resolution schemes through the ACCC website.

Additionally, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) handles complaints about almost every aspect of the finance industry, including:

  • banking
  • loans and debt collection
  • superannuation
  • financial planning
  • investments
  • finance and mortgage broking

If you are experiencing severe debt and considering a major decision such as bankruptcy or a Part 9 agreement, research your options around disputes and complaints first.

Bankruptcy

For some people in a debt crisis, bankruptcy or a Part IX (Part 9) debt agreement may be an option. It’s important to understand that filing for bankruptcy or a Part IX is a major financial decision, and may have long-lasting consequences.

If you are considering bankruptcy and have exhausted all other options, make sure that you speak to an independent financial counsellor or expert financial adviser to assess your situation and ensure you understand the bankruptcy or Part IX process.

You can read more about filing for personal bankruptcy by visiting the Australian Financial Security Authority.

About Money.com.au

Money.com.au want to make managing money easy and fun! By giving Australians simple tools so they can make the best decisions they can about their money.

We understand that the world of finance is complex, and offer free, extensive guides on Personal Loans, Car Loans and Business Loans, along with tools like our Budget Planning Spreadsheet to help you better manage and understand personal finance.

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