The Australian Government, while it might not seem like it a lot of the time, is quite generous in comparison to other nations when it comes to welfare and low income families. Aside from government payments, there is other assistance available. Here is everything I have used/know of. Feel free to add more in the comments.
1.) Centrelink/Human Services – yes they are a pain to deal with, but there are a variety of things available through them. Parenting payment, newstart allowance, carers payment and allowance, rent assistance, a health care card, advances on payments, family tax benefits, child care rebates and so on. Ask lots and lots of questions to find out exactly what you are eligible for.
2.) Food banks are spread out across Australia. They collect and distribute food that is close to it’s use by date
3.) The Salvation Army has Moneycare, their free financial counseling service, as well as centres you can get food, bills paid and more. If you need money right now to replace an electrical item, or for car repairs, medical emergencies they also provide no interest loans to those who qualify (scroll down the link when it loads, it is half way down the page). St Vincent de Paul also has NILS, food banks, counseling and other services. And Mission Australia has many services they provide which vary from state to state.
5.) Department of housing (this is the NSW link) have a variety of options, including help when renting privately. You need to get in quickly as the waiting times can sometimes be very long.
6.) Energy rebates are available for low income house holds if they have a pension card.
7.) Medical discounts are available if you have a health care card from Centrelink, on both GP and specialist visits as well as most medication. In some areas there are extra programs for things such as mental health where you can get free sessions. Ask your GP or do some research online. You might only need a referral from a GP and not have to prove your financial situation.
8.) Community health – Google community health and you state. There is everything from audiology and speech therapy through to physiotherapy available. The waiting times vary from location to location, but if you suspect you will need some form of medical treatment, it is better to get in early. For example, I had a feeling my daughter would need speech therapy. Had I put her name down when that feeling started, by the time it was confirmed her name would have been at the top of the list. Instead I waited and by then the wait time was 2 – 2.5years.
9.) Legal advice can be sought through legal aid, depending on your situation. Even if you don’t think you are eligible most courts have a ‘free day’ where you go in the morning and they take the first 10 people, give them advice and assistance without asking for financial proof of their situation. Another option is most lawyers do the first visit free.
10.) Clothing and other needs most charity shops will help with. There is even a sign in my local Anglicare that says they would rather help than have you steal. Don’t be afraid to ask if you really need the assistance.
Do you know of any assistance or support available to struggling families?