Personal Hardship Assistance Program

The Personal Hardship Assistance Program provides assistance to people experiencing financial hardship in meeting their relief needs because of a single house fire or a natural disaster related emergency such as bushfire, flood, severe storm or earthquake, and re-establishing their home following a natural disaster. The program includes emergency relief payments and emergency re-establishment payments.

The Personal Hardship Assistance Program provides two forms of emergency financial assistance:

  1. Emergency Relief Assistance to meet the immediate relief needs of families/individuals.
  2. Emergency Re-establishment Assistance to help families/individuals re-establish a principal place of residence.

If you've been affected by a natural disaster or single house fire and you're experiencing financial hardship in meeting your relief needs, you may be eligible for an emergency relief payment.

For information about support for non-natural disaster emergencies, please visit Families and Children or Housing for more information about available support services.

Emergency relief assistance

A one-off payment is provided to help meet immediate needs, including emergency food, shelter, clothing, medication and accommodation.

This program is not currently activated for a major emergency.

If you've been recently impacted by natural disaster incidents, such as storms, floods and fires, contact your local council to discuss your needs and relief supports available.

Relief payments are not available for:

  • damage caused by construction or building works
  • business losses
  • motor vehicle repairs or towing
  • compensation for the loss of income
  • paying insurance excess
  • loss resulting from power outages.

How we pay emergency relief payments

Payments can be provided in a number of ways, including via direct debit transfer into your nominated bank account, or by a physical card.

If you've received a payment via a physical card and would like more information about its key features, like who it’s for and how it's distributed, see the following target market determination document:

What your prepaid card can be used for

A prepaid card can be used to:

  • Make purchases at stores that accept EFTPOS
  • Withdraw cash from an ATM.

Cash withdrawals are limited to $1000 per day.

Funds on the card expire on the expiry date printed on the back of the card.

Are there fees to use the prepaid card?

Individual ATM providers may impose their own cash withdrawal limits and fees. Cardholder fees (where applicable) are subtracted from the card balance at the time of the transaction. Refer to the product disclosure statement provided with your pre-paid card for further details.

Expired prepaid cards with remaining balances

The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing is aware that a number of prepaid cards issued to access Personal Hardship Assistance Program payments have expired in 2022.   The one-off payments are provided to help meet immediate needs after an emergency, including emergency food, shelter, clothing, medication and accommodation. Many of the expired cards were issued following the 2019–20 bushfires.

The Department has commenced making contact with anyone who has an expired card with a balance above $20, to arrange for a transfer of their remaining funds.

Emergency re-establishment assistance

Following some natural disasters, emergency re-establishment assistance payments may be available in addition to emergency relief payments. Emergency re-establishment assistance can be available for people whose principal place of residence (your home) is destroyed, damaged or otherwise uninhabitable for more than 7 days due to an emergency.

The payments are used for:

  • clean-up
  • emergency accommodation
  • repairs
  • rebuilding (a principal place of residence)
  • replacing some damaged contents.

Re-establishment assistance, if activated, are means tested and available to individuals or families who do not have building (home) insurance or contents insurance.

Other forms of assistance

In some circumstances, the Victorian or Australian governments may offer other personal hardship assistance or support. Information will be available at relief centres (if activated) or on the Victorian Government Emergency website.

More information

If you are or you know someone who is in immediate danger, call the Police on triple zero (000).

More information about the Personal Hardship Assistance Program is available through departmental offices or via the following resource.

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