Financial Difficulty

Dealing with finances can be hard and anyone can experience financial difficulties. Financial stress occurs when you are unable to meet your existing commitments for your loans or other debts. Financial stress can occur in many situations and under various circumstances – what causes one person financial stress may not impact another.

Some situations that might cause financial stress include losing your job or being retrenched, a downturn in your business, unexpected events, loss of a loved one, a major change in your circumstances, juggling expenses or not being able to deal with the increasing costs of living.

The most important thing to remember is that it’s ok to need a little help sometimes. Our members are here to support you, many have specialist teams in place to tailor assistance to your needs and circumstances and assist you get financially back on track. In most cases, the support needed is only temporary so the earlier you get in touch with your lender, the quicker suitable options can be put in place.

If you are experiencing financial difficulty, reach out early to your Bank or lender. To help prepare you, here are some points to consider:

Assess your financial position: Review your income and expenses to understand how much you can repay, what expenses are a priority and where you may be able to cut some of your expenses. There are many tools available to help you track your expenses (see Tools & Support section below).

Be ready to talk to your lender: Call your lender and let them know you are in financial hardship. Be prepared to discuss your current situation and what’s contributing to your circumstances. Have information on your income ready (eg payslips, social security payments) and details on your expenses including any changes you have made before contacting the lender.

Talk to your lender: Be open and honest with your lender so they can provide you with the most suitable options. Continue to communicate and exchange information with your lender to ensure any plans put in place are right for you. AFIA members who are signatories to AFIA codes of practice are committed to providing you with financial hardship assistance.

It is also a good idea to speak to your electricity, phone and other service providers. They have hardship teams who may be able to delay, reduce or waive debt repayments depending on your situation.

Where to Get Help?

 If you are a consumer

In addition to reaching out to your lender or service provider, other organisations and services that may be able to help you get back on track include:

Services Australia www.servicesaustralia.gov.au

Australian Financial Complaints Authority www.afca.org.au

ASIC MoneySmart www.moneysmart.gov.au

National Debt Helpline www.ndh.org.au

Financial Counselling Australia www.financialcounselling.org.au

Financial Rights Legal Centre www.financialrights.org.au

Consumer Action Law Centre www.consumeraction.org.au

Good Sheperd Australia www.goodshep.org.au

Way Forward www.wayforward.org.au

If you are a small business owner

In addition to reaching out to your lender or service provider, other organisations and services that may be able to assist you include:

Business (Australian Federal Government) www.business.gov.au

Australian Taxation Office www.ato.gov.au

Australian Financial Complaints Authority www.afca.org.au (if your lender or provider holds an Australian financial services licence, an Australian credit licence or is a signatory to an AFIA Code of Practice)

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman www.asbfeo.gov.au

Small Business Debt Helpline www.sbdh.org.au

The State Small Business Commissioners: NSW, Victoria, WA, QLD, ACT, Tasmania and SA.

Debt Collection and Recovery Action

 Thre are guidelines and industry standards that apply to debt collection and recovery actions. If you find yourself subject to subject to collection or recovery action you should expect to be treated in a professional and ethical way.

The ACCC and ASIC have jointly produced guidelines which aim to assist creditors, collectors and debtors understand their rights and obligations, and ensure that debt collection activity is undertaken in a way that is consistent with consumer protection laws.

The Australian Debt Buyers and Collectors Association has a Code of Practice about professional behaviour and conduct in connection with ethical and compliant collection activities.

Tools & Support

Manage Your Money
Savings Planner