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This page last updated on 16/10/2020

More information

Food and Bills

If your client urgently needs help with living expenses, emergency relief run by charities and community organisations may be able to help with:

  • Food, transport or chemist vouchers

  • Power and water vouchers

  • Food parcels, clothing, second-hand furniture and sometimes whitegoods

You can use Service Seeker to find services offering Emergency Relief across Australia.

Centrelink crisis or emergency payments

There are two possible emergency payments your client may be able to get from Centrelink:

  1. Crisis payment – your client may apply for a one-off special crisis payment if they are receiving an income support payment, have experienced an extreme circumstance and are in severe financial hardship. There are four types of crisis payment:
    • for family and domestic violence;
    • for humanitarian entrants;
    • for release from prison or psychiatric confinement; for other extreme circumstances; and more recently
    • for national health emergency (COVID-19). For those who are eligible for the COVID-19 crisis payment, they must contact Centrelink within 14 days of entering required quarantine or self-isolation or caring for someone who is. For more details see National Health Emergency (COVID-19).
  2. Advance payment – if your client already receives a Centrelink payment they may qualify for an advance payment. They will need to pay this back over time out of future payments from Centrelink.

No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS)

If your client has an income from Centrelink or is on a low income, NILS can provide them with access to safe, fair and affordable credit. The scheme offers loans for essential goods and services of between $300 and $1500. Repayments are set at an affordable amount over 12 to 18 months. No credit check is required for this loan.

Your client can use NILS to:

  • buy essential household items such as white goods (like fridges and washing machines), computers or furniture
  • pay for health-care items such as wheelchairs or asthma pumps
  • pay for car registration or repairs (if they live in an area where there is little or no public transport)

Your client can’t use NILS to:

  • get cash
  • pay debt consolidation loans
  • pay rent arrears
  • pay bills
  • go on holidays


To be eligible for NILS, your client must:

  • have a Centrelink health-care or pension card; and
  • have lived at the same address for the past 3 months; and
  • show that they can and are willing to repay the loan within 12 or 18 months

How to apply

NILS is offered by more than 250 local community organisations in over 650 locations across Australia. You or your client can find the local NILS provider and check eligibility here.

Your client will then need to call their local NILS provider for an initial assessment. If assessed as eligible for NILS the local provider will book them in for an appointment for a more detailed application and assessment. They will inform them about what documents they will need to provide.

Household Relief Loans Without Interest

Household Relief Loans Without Interest for anyone impacted by COVID-19 are now available. In collaboration with the Australian Government, No Interest Loans of up to $3,000 and repayable over 24 months, are now available.

Loans are not for cash – they are to pay rent (to a real estate agent, not a private landlord), utility bills, bond, body corporate fees and council rates.

Your client may be eligible for a Household Relief Loan without interest if they:

  • Are 16 years or over
  • Are an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or hold a valid visa that expires after the loan term
  • Have a before tax annual income of less than $60,000 if they are single, or less than $100,000 for couples or people with dependents
  • Have lost their job, had income reduced, moved onto Centrelink payments after March 2020 or been otherwise financially impacted by Covid-19
  • Have reduced income if they’re self-employed

How to apply

Good Shepherd is providing a free COVID Hardship Support Hotline to help people check their eligibility and discuss the suitability of a Household Relief Loan Without Interest and provide support with their application if needed. Your client can contact them by calling 1300 121 130 OR they can check their eligibility and make an enquiry/application online here.