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Many people are facing financial hardship because of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Because of this, many utility providers, including energy companies, phone and internet providers, government services, and insurers are offering their customers flexibility when it comes to paying their bills.

In some instances, this means waiving late fees and in others, it means providing discounts or other financial hardship measures. There are too many providers to list here. So, if yours is not listed, contact them directly to see what financial aid or assistance they can give.  

On this page: 
Phone and Internet
Financial Hardship

Phone and Internet bills 


Telstra offers flexible payment options if your bill comes in and it is going to be hard to pay. They also offer ongoing discounts to eligible pensioners (Disability and Aged pensioners) and are currently offering discounted internet for 12 months to low-income families receiving Family Tax Benefit Part A or B. 

For more information, go to Telstra News - Supporting you during COVID-19 


Optus customers who find themselves in financial hardship due to COVID-19 and are unable to pay their Optus bills may be eligible for a tailored Financial Hardship plan. 

For more information, go to Optus Media Centre – Coronavirus COVID-19 Updates and Optus - Financial Hardship Assistance


The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has some great information on trouble paying bills and financial hardship. Due to COVID-19, the timeframe for phone and internet providers to respond to non-urgent complaints has been extended to 15 days. If you and your phone or internet provider cannot come to a resolution that works for you and your current financial situation, then you should make a complaint to the ombudsman. The timeframe for providers to respond to urgent complaints from vulnerable or at-risk people and businesses is still 2 business days though. For more information or to make a complaint, visit www.tio.com.au or call the TIO Complaint Line in 1800 062 058.


ACCAN have provided other information for targeted groups on what programs and offers are available to help you stay connected.

Have you been financially impacted by COVID-19 restrictions? Read our blog on What you need to know about Centrelink and COVID-19 for information and links. 

Utility bills 

Energy bills 

Households across Australia may have access to financial assistance for their energy bills. Contact your energy supplier and your state services department to discuss the COVID-19 financial assistance open to you. 

Finder.com.au have produced a guide on Coronavirus assistance form your energy provider with details on offerings from individual providers and their contact details. 

Most energy providers will allow payment extensions and repayment instalment plans to help you pay your bills if you are experiencing financial hardship. Contact your utility provider directly to talk about your options.  


Relief grants are available for Low-income Victorians experiencing unexpected hardship. The grant provides help to pay a mains electricity, gas or water bill that is overdue because of temporary financial crisis. 


Account-holders with one of the below eligible concession cards

  • Pensioner Concession Card
  • Health Care Card
  • Veteran's Affairs Gold Card

If you don’t have one of these cards but are part of a low-income household, you may also be able to apply. Your retailer will ask you some questions to check if you are eligible before issuing a form.

The grant is available to renters and homeowners.


You can only apply for a grant on an active account.

You must show that you have no way of paying the account without assistance, and

You must meet one of the following criteria:

  • You or someone in your house has experienced family violence.
  • You have had a recent decrease in income, for example, lost your job
  • You have had high unexpected costs for essential items
  • The cost of shelter is more than 30% of your household income.  

The amount of the grant is based on the amount you owe at the time of the application. It is also based on the reasons you have given for applying in your application form. You can receive a maximum of $650 on each utility type in a two-year period (or $1,300 for households with a single source of energy (for example, electricity only).

You can apply for separate grants for each utility (electricity, gas and water).

To request an application, contact your electricity, gas or water retailer. They will ask you some questions before starting your application. The application can be completed online, or your retailer will post you a paper form to complete. A friend, support worker or financial counsellor can help you complete the application.

For more information see Utility Relief Grant Scheme or call the Concessions Information Line on 1800 658 521.


Households in NSW struggling to pay their energy bills during COVID-19 now have access to additional financial support directly through Service NSW and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, thanks to a $30 million boost to the Government’s emergency support Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) Scheme.  

Energy Accounts Payment Assistance

If you're having difficulty paying your current household energy bill because of a short-term financial crisis or emergency, such as unexpected medical bills, or reduced income due to COVID-19, you could be eligible for Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) $50 vouchers.

For further information or to apply online go to Apply for Energy Accounts Payment Assistance vouchers or call Service NSW on 13 77 88. 

Seniors Energy Rebate

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders across NSW are being also reminded to apply for the Seniors Energy Rebate now. If you do not qualify for the Age pension or the household pensioner rebate on your electricity bill and you are over 65 you may still be able to apply for the Seniors Energy Rebate. 

The Seniors Energy Rebate eases energy costs by up to $200 a year and has been available since July last year. With many eligible seniors now confined to their homes during COVID-19 and using more power as a result, it is worth applying for now more than ever. 

If you are a Commonwealth Seniors Health Cardholder who have already applied for the rebate in this financial year, you can reapply again from 1 July 2020 for the new financial year. 

For more information and to apply online, go to Apply for Seniors Energy Rebate or call Service NSW on 13 77 88.  

Both the EAPA vouchers and the Seniors Energy Rebate are available to energy customers (gas and electricity) living in NSW who meet the criteria and can be used with any energy provider such as Origin, Energy Australia, Red Energy, AGL and others.  

Water bills  

Water suppliers like Sydney Water or your Local Government Council can help their customers by providing flexible or delayed payment schedules and rebates for eligible customers which normally includes Disability and Aged pensioners.  

For more information contact your water supplier or visit their website. This might be your local council or in metropolitan areas, it may be a direct supplier like Sydney Water. Sydney Water customers should visit Sydney Water - Help with Paying Your Bill

Energy and Water Ombudsman

The Australian Energy Regulator has a list of useful contacts and includes state and territory-based ombudsman schemes and energy departments. Visit AER - Useful contacts for customers to find your local energy and water ombudsman's contact details. 


Most local area councils across the country are offering ratepayers experiencing financial hardship caused by COVID-19 financial support at this time by allowing delayed payments, flexible repayment schedules and other measures. 

For more information go to your local council’s website or contact them by phone. 

Looking for more information on COVID-19 for people with a disability? Start here.


Whether you have health insurance, home and contents insurance or car insurance, your insurer may be supporting you through COVID-19 by halting premium increases, allowing delayed payments and helping you with flexible repayment schedules as well. 

Some insurers have gone beyond this and have offered their customers discounts on their premiums in some situations. Situations like if you are using your car less because you are now working or staying at home because of COVID-19. if your car is on the road less and it is in a secure location, you may be able to negotiate a price reduction in your car insurance premiums.

Contact your insurer directly to ask what they can do and if they are willing to negotiate with you. There are too many insurers to list here but some big ones for car, home and contents are NRMA, Youi, GIO, AAMI, Allianz and some major health insurers are Bupa, HBF, HCF, nib and Medibank. 


If you are unable to come to an arrangement with your insurer then you should contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) to get more information or help. The AFCA can protect your rights and help you resolve a complaint about any credit management dispute whether that be an insurance bill, a credit card bill or other financial product. 

Visit www.afca.org.au or call for free on 1800 931 678.

Financial Hardship

The Australian Government provides an easy how to guide on navgiating debt and financial hardship. 

If you are finding it difficult to keep up with your bills, MoneySmart AU recommend contact your lender or service provider. You may find they have hardship officers who are there to assess and help you in your situation. Options may come in the way of payment plans or changing your loan repayments for a period of time. 

It is important that you are able to prove your financial hardship when applying for assistance. Be prepared to show a letter from an employer, your current income or other major financial expense and what repayments you may be able to afford. Make sure you can pay what you can without stretching your limits or increasing the time you are paying off debts. If you cannot maintain a new arrangement let your lender or provider know straight away. 

For more information on where you can get support follow this MoneySmart Government Resource.

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