Personal Hardship Assistance Program

The Personal Hardship Assistance Program helps people experiencing financial hardship in emergencies. The program includes Emergency Relief Payments and Re-establishment Assistance.

For information on flood relief, visit VicEmergency

You may be eligible for an emergency payment if you have been affected by a house fire or a natural disaster.

Translated information and Easy English

Find accessible information about getting help in natural disasters on this page, under Translated and Easy English resources.

Go to the Easy English section for information in Easy English.

You can also find factsheets in other languages, including:

  • Albanian
  • Arabic 
  • Chinese (Simplified and Traditional) 
  • Croatian
  • Dari
  • Greek 
  • Hazaragi
  • Hindi 
  • Italian 
  • Punjabi 
  • Swahili
  • Thai
  • Turkish
  • Vietnamese 

Other support services

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

Emergency Relief Payments

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

Apply online

You can only apply using the online form if your home is in a certain area.

Steps to apply online 

Check that your home is in one of the eligible areas. See the list under Personal Hardship Assistance Program on Relief and Recovery - VicEmergency. 

If you live in an eligible area, apply via the online application form.

Other ways to apply

If you live outside the eligible areas and have urgent relief needs because of flooding:

  • call the Flood Recovery Hotline on 1800 560 760
  • check your local council website for relief or recovery centres near you.

Advice for using the online form:

  • If you use your Driver Licence as a form of identity, do not include the middle initial of your name
  • If you use a Medicare card as a form of identity, you only need to give one Medicare number. Your Medicare number is only used to verify your identity
  • We will contact you if we need more information to process your application.

If you are deemed eligible, you will be paid via direct deposit within three to five business days. If you need to receive payment via direct deposit, please complete a call back form.

Emergency 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

You can be paid by:

  • direct debit transfer into your nominated bank account
  • a prepaid debit card.

Using your prepaid card

A prepaid card can be used to:

  • Buy items at stores that accept EFTPOS
  • withdraw cash from an ATM - up to $1000 per day

The card will expire on the expiry date printed on the back of the card.

Expired cards with leftover money

We understand that some prepaid cards we issued over the last few years expired in 2022. Many of the expired cards were issued after the 2019–20 bushfires.

The Department is contacting anyone who has an expired card with a balance of more than $20 to transfer their money to a new card.

You can find details about prepaid cards in the target market determination documents:

Re-establishment Assistance

You can get financial help to return home if:

  • You cannot live in your home because it is damaged or destroyed; or
  • you cannot access your home for more than 7 days because of flooding

This is called ‘Re-establishment Assistance’. It is only available for your principal place of residence.

Re-establishment Assistance can help to pay for:

  • clean-up
  • emergency accommodation
  • repairs
  • rebuilding your home
  • replacing some damaged contents.

This help is means tested. You can only get it if you:

  • do not have building (home) insurance or contents insurance AND
  • are experiencing financial hardship

Call the Emergency Recovery Hotline on 1800 560 760 to register your details for Re-establishment Assistance. Need an interpreter? Press 9 when you call.

Other help

The Victorian or Australian governments may offer other help in some emergencies. You can find out what is available at relief centres (if activated) or on the Victorian Government’s Emergency website.

More information

If you are in immediate danger, call triple zero (000).

For more details on the Personal Hardship Assistance Program, read the documents below. 

Translated and Easy English resources