We know that many older Victorians are still struggling with the cost of living in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article, we point you in the direction of a few services and supports that may be of interest.
National Debt Helpline
The National Debt Helpline provides free and confidential advice from professional financial counsellors. You can contact the helpline on 1800 00 70 07.
COVID-19 stimulus payment
Next month, the Australian Government will give eligible Australians an additional $250 stimulus payment. If you receive any of the following payments or hold any of the following healthcare cards, you are eligible for this payment:
- Age pension
- Disability Support Pension
- Carer Payment
- Family Tax Benefit, including the Double Orphan Pension (but not in receipt of a primary income support payment)
- Carer Allowance (but not in receipt of a primary income support payment)
- Pensioner Concession Card holders (not in receipt of a primary income support payment)
- Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders
- eligible Veterans’ Affairs payment recipients and concession card holders.
Victoria’s concession program
A wide range of concessions are available to make essential goods and services more affordable for Victorians on low incomes. You might be able to save money in several different areas, including energy, water, telecommunications, medical expenses and transport.
Victorian Energy Saver Bonus
This is a one-off $250 Power Saving Bonus for Victorian households that have at least one Jobseeker, youth allowance recipient or pensioner. To find out more about the Energy Saver Bonus, call 1800 00 08 32 or visit the Victorian Energy Compare website.
Victorian Coronavirus Rent Relief Grant
This is a payment of up to $3,000 for tenants who are experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19. The grant is paid directly to the landlord on behalf of the tenant.
To be eligible for the grant you will need to:
- have registered a revised rental agreement with Consumer Affairs Victoria
- have less than $10,000 in savings (excluding superannuation)
- have an income of less than $1,903 per week before tax
- be paying more than 30% of your income in rent
- have been financially impacted by COVID-19.
Note that you only have until 28 March 2021 to apply for this grant if you think you might be eligible. To find out more, phone the Department of Health and Human Services on 1800 95 04 44 or visit the department’s website.
Housing for the Aged Action Group’s Home at Last service
Home at Last offers free, confidential advice, support and advocacy to older people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or are wanting to plan their housing future. This service is available to any older person in Victoria on a low income with low assets.
To find out more, phone 1300 76 51 78 or visit the Home at Last website.
No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS)
This scheme provides interest-free loans of up to $1,500 to help people on low incomes buy essential items such as fridges, washing machines and furniture. It can also help to cover the cost of things like medical expenses and car repairs.
To be eligible for NILS you must:
- have a healthcare or pension card
- earn under $45,000 per year
- have lived in your current residence for three months
- have a willingness and capacity to repay the loan.
To find out more, phone 13 64 57 or visit the NILS website.
Pension Loans Scheme
This scheme allows older Australians to access a voluntary non-taxable fortnightly loan from the Australian Government. You can choose the loan amount you wish to access each fortnight, up to 1.5 times the maximum payment rate of your eligible pension. Note that you must repay the loan and all costs and accrued interest to the Australian Government. To find out more, phone Services Australia on 13 23 00 or visit the Services Australia website.