Resources, advice and relevant services to help you manage your money.
The purpose of this information is to provide people living in the City of Whittlesea with a user-friendly resource that helps them build financial literacy and wellbeing. At the bottom of this page, the Booklet can be downloaded as a PDF available in English, Tamil, Punjabi, Simplified Chinese, Farsi, Macedonian and Arabic.
This Financial Literacy Booklet has been developed by Whittlesea Community Connections to provide information, resources and support to people living within the City of Whittlesea who may be experiencing hardship.
Whittlesea Community Connections is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to identify and break down barriers to accessing information and support services, and to work with the community in a person-centred and integrated way. We encourage community members to use this booklet to further develop their financial literacy, so that greater financial security and wellbeing can be achieved.
Readers can use the Table of Contents to view the resources and service types shared within the booklet, and can jump to the corresponding page number for more information. Community members may wish to self-refer by contacting the services themselves, or are always welcome to call Whittlesea Community Connections for more support.
If you are experiencing financial hardship and feeling distressed, Lifeline is a free, 24-hour telephone crisis support service. Call 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au
The Utility Relief Grant (URG) and Non-Mains Utility Relief Grant scheme (NURGS) is available to Pensioner Concession card holders, Health Care card holders or DVA Gold card holders. If you do not have one of these cards but you are on a low income, you may also be able to apply. The maximum grant available per utility bill is $650, the grant provided depends on the amount owing on the bill. If you only have one main i.e. gas only, then the maximum grant amount is up to $1300. This is a grant that does not need to be repaid by the customer and can only be accessed every two years. To apply for the URG you will need to contact your energy or water provider. To apply for the NURG you will need to contact the Victorian Concession Information Line. For further eligibility criteria, referral process and specific information about these grants please visit the DHHS website below or phone the Victorian Concessions Information Line.
Also ensure your concession card is registered with the utility company to receive a discount on your energy and water bills.
EWOV is useful to resolve a dispute with a utility provider. The Energy and Water Ombudsman (EWOV) are an independent body who resolve disputes between Victorian consumers and electricity, gas, and water companies. EWOV’s website is very user friendly and has available useful fact sheets and contact information.
Victorian Energy Compare is an independent Victorian Government energy price comparison website. This site allows you to compare your gas and electricity bills to other energy providers to find the best energy provider based on your use. You will need a recent bill to use this tool.
Telstra has a program available for not-for-profit agencies that can assist clients with phone cards or financial assistance for people finding it difficult to pay their outstanding Telstra bill. You can find information on the Telstra Bills Assistance Program or the Telstra Phone card Assistance Program at the following site.
Services Australia is a government department that delivers payments and services to the Australian community. People on low incomes may be eligible for concessions on their telephone and internet. The telephone allowance helps with the cost of having a phone and internet service in your home. Eligibility is considered when you apply for a Centrelink benefit and the allowance is included with your Centrelink payment.
TIO is a similar service to the EWOV, but information provided is specific to the telecommunication industry. TIO is a fast, free, independent, impartial, and fair dispute resolution service. This service is for residential customers or small business customers who have an unresolved complaint about their phone or internet service.
DHS Office of Housing offers multiple services and provision of information about housing. This includes assistance with bond loans, applications for public housing, crisis and emergency accommodation, community housing information, supported accommodation information, advice, movable units, Home Options finder, home ownership and private rental information.
Services Australia – Centrelink provides rent assistance support to people who are on low incomes. For further information, eligibility and to make a claim you can call the Families line or visit the below web page.
TV is a service that informs and educates tenants about their housing rights, aims to improve conditions for tenants, and they represent the collective interests of tenants in law and policy making. They provide advice, assistance, and advocacy for a range of tenants. This includes tenants of private and public residential properties, rooming houses, and caravan parks.
TAAP assists Victorian tenants who are having issues with a private tenancy agreement, to avoid becoming homeless. They provide information and referral to other services, negotiation with landlords or real estate agents, and assistance in preparing for and attending hearings at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
VCAT hears and determines various civil disputes, including residential tenancy disputes. The Residential Tenancies List can hear disputes that include tenant versus landlord, landlord versus tenant, rooming house owner versus rooming house resident and Director of Housing versus Tenant. Issues such as unpaid rent, bond returns, repairs, maintenance, damage or changes to property, pets and renting, excessive rent increases and termination and possession order can be heard through VCAT.
HHS Preston office is the housing agency for the City of Whittlesea. They provide a variety of housing services and support programs for clients who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, including housing workers and brokerage funding to support people to access private rental properties. HHS may also be able to assist with rental arrears and money to start a tenancy.
This program can assist people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to access an interest free loan to support with entering the private rental market. Further, the provision of casework, education and advocacy with the real estates and other housing agencies. Please call to speak with one of the Caseworkers to assess your eligibility for this program.
This program aims to assist victim-survivors of family violence at risk of homelessness supporting them to gain housing thru access to an interest free loan in conjunction with ongoing case management support including education around financial literacy and renting. Please call to speak with one of the Family Violence Specialist Caseworkers to assess your eligibility for this program.
DET provide financial assistance for families with education costs who are on low incomes and/or hold a valid Centrelink concession card. This includes: The State Schools’ Relief (SSR), Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund (CSEF), Child Care Subsidy and Family Assistance. For further information speak to your school or childcare provider.
The SSR provides support to government school students to access uniforms, footwear, and educational resources, including learning devices and graphing calculators. SSR works with all Victorian primary, secondary, specialist and language schools to ensure that any student facing hardship have the necessary items they require for school. For further information speak to your school.
The CSEF is a government funded payment to assist eligible students to attend school activities such as school camps or trips, swimming, and school organised sports programs, outdoor education programs and excursions and incursions. Families who hold a valid concession and temporary foster parents are eligible to apply. Special consideration is also given to students in and out of foster care, students in statutory kinship care, families on a bridging visa, temporary protection visa, are in community detention or are asylum seekers. For further information speak to your school.
The Child Care Subsidy and Additional Childcare Subsidy are government funded subsidies that can assist eligible families with the cost of childcare fees. For further information, eligibility and to make a claim you can call the Families line or visit the below web pages.
Child Care Subsidy
Additional Child Care Subsidy
Family Assistance payments are government funded payments that are designed to provide support to low income families to assist in the cost of raising children. For further information, eligibility and to make a claim you can call the families line or visit the below web page.
The Saver Plus program is run by Brotherhood of St Laurence and aims at assisting and improving financial capabilities and building assets of families and single parent families on low incomes. This program is offered locally across 60 different locations across Australia.
The Learning for Life program provides financial assistance from sponsors to families who are disadvantaged and needing assistance with school costs. The program also connects the child and family to local learning opportunities and access to any educational programs Smith Family may offer. For more information please contact your child’s school.
The NILS provides individuals and families on low incomes with access to safe, fair, and affordable credit. Loans are available for essential goods and services such as education expenses, household goods, car repairs and medical procedures for up to $1500. Repayments are set an affordable amount over 12-18 months. To find your nearest NILS provider please visit the website below.
Computer Bank are an independent not for profit organisation who provide low cost refurbished desktop and laptop computers. Computer Bank have provided thousands of refurbished low-cost computers to community and especially to students for education purchases. To access this program, you will need to hold a valid Australian concession card.
Tertiary education fees in Australia are payable for courses at tertiary education institutions such as Universities and TAFEs. The government provides loans and subsidies to relieve the cost of tertiary education for eligible students. Australian citizens and permanent visa holders can access government loans including HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP and VET-HELP to assist with paying tuition fees, overseas study expenses, student services and amenities fees. Scholarships are an award of financial aid for a student to further their education at a private elementary or secondary school, or a private or public post- secondary college, university, or other academic institution. Scholarships are awarded based upon various criteria, such as academic merit, diversity and inclusion, athletic skill, and financial need.
The Get Active Kids Voucher program will support the delivery of 100,000 vouchers to support children get involved in organised sport and active recreation activities by providing up to $200 towards the cost of membership, sports equipment or uniforms. To find out more about the Get Active Kids Voucher Program, eligibility and how to apply visit
Financial literacy is the possession of the set of skills and knowledge that allows an individual to make informed and effective decisions with all of their financial resources.
Money smart is a credible government backed initiative that provides financial guidance to the Australian community. Offering simple tools, tips, comparisons, and calculators to help you make informed decisions about banking and budgeting, loans, credit and debt, investing and planning, insurance, super and retirement. Support is also offered if needing financial advice and guidance through the financial advisor resource page.
Call us on 132 300 and say ‘Financial Information Service’ when we ask why you’re calling. A FIS Officer will answer your call.
FIS can talk to you about your retirement options. FIS can help you plan no matter when you plan to retire, tomorrow or in 20 years. You can get information online or talk to a FIS Officer. They can show you ways to build a stronger financial future in retirement.
Uniting Kildonan offers a range of free services for people experiencing financial difficulties. Financial counselling can provide an assessment of your financial position, assist in prioritising bills and debts, provide information about rules and laws about payment obligations, assist to negotiate with creditors and set up payment arrangements, budgeting and money management support, and provide referrals to other specialised services.
Centrelink is a government service which provides financial support to the Australian community who face financial hardship. Centrelink delivers payments and services for retirees, the unemployed, families, carers, parents, people with disabilities, Indigenous Australians, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. To check your eligibility for support from Centrelink please visit the Services Australia website below.
Tax is money people and businesses pay to the Australian Government to provide a good health care system, quality education, roadworks and upgrades and a variety of community facilities. Understanding taxes greatly avoids missing deductions and finding yourself with outstanding tax debts. Before starting work, we recommend you speak to the ATO. ATO issue TFNs to individuals, businesses and other organisations for identification and record keeping purposes.
Foreign passport holders, permanent migrants and temporary visitors apply below
People living outside of Australia
If you are needing help to do your tax return Whittlesea Community Connections provides a free tax help program each year between July and October. Please call to check eligibility.
The NDH provides a free financial counselling telephone service to help people manage their debts and get their finances under control. They can also put you in touch with other services such as legal services, crisis food and accommodation services, and health services.
The AFCA handles complaints about banks, credit unions, building societies, life insurance companies, superannuation providers, financial planners, and multiple other financial institutions. AFCA assist consumers and small businesses to reach agreements with financial firms about how to resolve a dispute.
You do not have to wait until you receive your bills to start paying them. A great way to stay on top of your bills is to pay them on a regular basis, for example, if you are paid fortnightly then pay your bills fortnightly or try and contribute towards your bills. Ask your utility company to set up a fortnightly payment arrangement. They will work out the total of your bills over the past year and divide the total into 26 fortnightly payments. This can apply to all of your bills e.g. home phone/ internet, mobiles, loans, credit cards, home loan, rates, and education fees.
There are several options you can use to pay your bills: Post Office using a bill or payment card, BPAY over the phone or internet banking, automatic reoccurring transfers via internet banking (Direct debit), Centrepay.
Credit means receiving something of value now and promising to pay for it later, often with a finance charge added by the lender. When you agree to repay credit, you are responsible for repaying the money you owe under the terms of any contract you make with the lender. Credit can include personal loans and home loans, credit and store cards, education loans, hire purchases, short term or pay day loans, a mobile phone, internet services, electricity or gas, water services and more.
Interest free means no interest charged on money that has been borrowed. An interest free period means you do not have to pay interest on money that you have borrowed for the time the lender states, but you will be charged their standard rate if the interest free period ends and you haven’t repaid everything you owe. Fees can add up quickly and if you don’t repay the balance in the interest free period, you can be charged a lot in interest, so it is encouraged to always try and pay off the money you have borrowed before the interest free period ends.
Credit reports are a summary of how you have handled any credit accounts. If you have ever applied for credit or a loan, there will be a credit report about you. Credit reports are used by potential lenders and creditors to help them decide whether to offer you credit and under what terms. Your credit score is based on personal and financial information about you that is kept in your credit report. Lenders use your credit score (or credit rating) to decide whether to give you credit or lend you money. Knowing your credit score and understanding your credit report can help you negotiate deals or understand why you were rejected for a loan. When you have been provided with any form of credit it is important that you stick to your contract and your repayment schedule as this will impact your credit score and credit report. To access a free copy of your credit report and credit score you can apply to one of the three credit bureaus below.
No Interest Loan Schemes are provided through Good Shepherd and provide access to interest free loans for people who are on low incomes. Loan amounts are up to a maximum of $1500 and a NILS worker will work with you on an affordable repayment arrangement. To get more information and find your nearest provider please visit the website below. Eligibility criteria applies.
Step Up loans are provided through Good Shepard and provide access to low-interest loans for people who are on low incomes and who have difficulty in accessing credit from a bank. Loan amounts start from $800 to a maximum of $3000 which can be repaid over a three-year period at an affordable rate. To get more information and find your nearest provider please visit the website below. Eligibility criteria applies.
A payday loan, also called a small amount loan, lets you borrow up to $2000. You have between 16 days and one year to pay it back. While it might look like a quick fix, a payday loan has a lot of fees and you can end up paying back a lot more than you borrowed. There are cheaper ways to borrow money when you need it so always try and shop around and explore other options first. Pay day loans are a lot more expensive than personal loans from the banks.
Rent to buy is a type of legal transaction where you lease property such as furniture, electronics, motor vehicles, real estate, home appliances in exchange for a weekly or monthly payment, with the option to purchase at some point during the agreement. Depending on your agreement, if you do not pay the rent/ payments on time you may incur high late fees or even the lose the right to purchase the property.
A bank loan provides medium or long term finance in return the recipient is required to pay back the amount borrowed plus interest. The loan term and interest amount is determined by the bank and decisions are based on factors such as your income, expenditure, credit history, assets and your overall capacity to repay the loan. Before taking out any type of loan it is recommended to explore the options available by different banking organisations and if unsure speak with a financial advisory service for some advice and guidance.
Money Plans are a great way to help you track, plan, and prioritise where your money is going. Following a money plan or spending plan can also help to keep you debt free or help to work your way out of debt if you are currently in debt. Below is a simple Money Plan tool that you can use.
My Community Directory is a digital library of community information and provides an online services directory for the City of Whittlesea.
Emergency Relief Services provide financial, material aid, food and meals support to people experiencing financial hardship. Support available varies from service to service and can include support such as food hampers, food vouchers, financial support, bill support and material aid items such as clothing and household goods. Please speak to the individual provider to find out what support they may be able to provide.
Whittlesea Community Connections
St Vincent De Paul
Infinity Church - Community Meals Kitchen
Salvation Army Whittlesea City Corps
Countrywide Community Missions Vic
North Point Centre
Victorian Aboriginal Childcare Agency Cooperative VACCA Preston
Whittlesea Ministries Inc. Foodshare
Big Group Hug
Sikh Community Connections
Turbans 4 Australia
Mill Park Baptist Church (The Shak)
Infinity Church the Community Meals Kitchen
Encompass Care Community Lunch
For emergencies where immediate police, fire or ambulance assistance is required,
North Eastern CAAT Service / Crisis Assessment & Treatment team
A CATT responds to urgent requests to help people in mental health crisis 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Providing all Australians experiencing emotional distress with access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
After Hours Child Protection Service
Concerns about the immediate safety of a child outside of normal business hours
Victoria’s 24/7 family violence support service. Provides specialists support for anyone in Victoria who is experiencing or afraid of family violence. After hours service for family violence support.
Kids Help Line
Australia’s only free, private, and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.
Telephone and online counselling service for men with emotional health and relationship concerns.
For parents and carers of children and teenagers in Victoria. We offer counselling, information, and support around a range of parenting issues
The Victorian Poisons Information Centre (VPIC)
Provide the people of Victoria with advice about what to do if a person has been poisoned, has overdosed, has made a mistake with medicines or has been bitten/stung by a snake, spider, bee, wasp etc.
Specialised alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment service.
BASELINE’s direct line
24/7 confidential counselling, information, and referral service for anyone in Victoria affected by alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems.
Family Drug & Alcohol Helpline
Family Drug Help is a program that provides practical help, information and support to families and friends impacted by someone’s drug and alcohol use.
Supports people affected by gambling harm, including family and friends. Focuses on prevention, early intervention, and provides support for those who are particularly vulnerable to gambling harm as well as those living in regional and rural communities.
Uniting Care ReGen
Alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment and education agency of Uniting Care Victoria and Tasmania. As one organisation, we can prepare for current and future changes in the community services sector.
National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) - Brotherhood of St Laurence
Provides support to eligible people with intellectual, physical, sensory, cognitive, and psychosocial disability. Early intervention supports can also be provided for eligible people with disability or children with developmental delay.
Northern Support Services
Providing innovative and supportive programs for people with disability, their families, and carers.
Offer both facility and community-based services to people with intellectual, physical, and sensory disabilities including Acquired Brain Injury.
Drummond Street Services
Supports families and individuals and delivers a range of prevention, early intervention and targeted, specialist support for children, young people, adults, and families across the family life-course, and at key family transitions.
Relationships Australia (Victoria)
Provider of relationship support services for individuals, families, and communities. They aim to support all people in Australia to achieve positive and respectful relationships. Offers support groups, family and individual counselling, and education on relationships for abusive and abused partners.
Helps kids living in foster and residential care achieve their dreams, reconnected families experiencing crisis and provide new and innovative programs designed to keep families together and kids safe.
Child First / Orange Door
The new access point for women, children and young people who are experiencing family violence or families who need assistance with the care and wellbeing of children to access the services they need to be safe and supported.
Maternal Child Health
The Victorian Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Service is a free universal primary health service that works in partnership with families to care for babies and young children until they start school.
City of Whittlesea Council
We provide community services and facilities and are also responsible for making and enforcing local laws.
Victoria Police is working to keep our community safe.
The Orange Door is a new way for people experiencing family violence, or who need assistance with the care and wellbeing of children and young people, to access the support they need.
State-wide first response service for women, young people and children experiencing family violence. The safe steps 24/7 response phone line connects callers with specialist support workers who can help them explore their options, develop a safety plan, access to support services and provide emergency accommodation. After hours service for family violence support.
Berry Street is an independent Community Service Organisation and Australian charity. Berry Street helps children, young people and families impacted by abuse, violence, and neglect.
A state-wide specialist family violence service that works with women from migrant and refugee backgrounds, their families, and their communities in Victoria. Provide case management to women, training, conduct research, and run community-based projects in order to address the issue of family violence in the community.
Salvation Army: Crossroads Family Violence Service
Provides specialist family violence support services for women and children ranging from prevention, early intervention to crisis response. These services include group work, out posting, crisis and high-risk responses, Safe at Home service, outreach case management as well as specialist family violence refuge accommodation and support.
Sexual Assault Crisis Line
The Sexual Assault Crisis Line Victoria (SACL) is a state-wide, after-hours, confidential, telephone crisis counselling service for people who have experienced both past and recent sexual assault.
No To Violence - Men’s Referral Service
Victorian state-wide peak organisation of individuals and agencies working for the prevention of male family violence. The specific focus is work with men to assist them to change and end their violent behaviour.
A provider of mental health, psychosocial and dual disability support services available nationwide. Provides practical and motivational support to help improve quality of life. Supports people to build resilience, take control, and participate in the community.
Banyule Community Health (LIFT Program)
LIFT Program provides mental health support to those who are experiencing anxiety, depression, chronic mental health issues or suicidal thoughts.
HeadtoHelp provides mental health support to anyone of any age experiencing emotional distress, mental ill-health and/or addiction along with their families and carers. Support may be provided from within the HeadtoHelp team or through referral to other health providers best suited to support individual clients with long term help.
NEAMI – Thomastown
Neami Thomastown offers community outreach support, community and group programs, homelessness, and housing support.
Kids Helpline is a free Australian telephone and online counselling service for young people aged between 5 and 25.
Austin CAMHS North East Metro (0-18 years)
Providing information, assessment, and referral for mental health for young people aged 0-18 years. Crisis supports available.
Haven Home Safe
Haven; Home, Safe Australia’s only fully integrated homeless and affordable rental housing provider with homelessness support and low-income assistance.
A secular Melbourne-based organisation that delivers homelessness services and housing supports. If you are at risk of, or experiencing homelessness please speak to a housing support worker for advice
Aboriginal Housing Victoria
Aboriginal Victorians are able to secure appropriate, affordable housing as a pathway to better lives and stronger communities. Its housing services are targeted to those most in need of support.
Housing Choices Australia
Manages a Housing Information and Referral Service for people with disabilities who are homeless or at risk of being homeless. This service provides information about accessing public housing, rooming houses, co-operatives, community housing, housing associations, private rental, and other support services.
Office of Housing (DHS) – North West Region
Housing Vic is managed by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness or family violence, there are number of options available to support you with accommodation.
Promote and protect the rights and interests of all residential tenants in Victoria by providing legal service and assistance, legal representation at VCAT and other Courts, community education through publications, online materials, and training sessions as well as advocacy through various channels.
The Salvation Army St Kilda Crisis Centre
The Crisis Services Programs respond to individuals and families who have difficulty gaining access to mainstream community services. The aim is to provide a broad range of information for people seeking welfare assistance, advice and general referral and support.
Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency Co-operative Ltd
Provide family and child welfare, family aid and strengthening and reunification services within the Aboriginal community. In so doing, the purpose is to strengthen the safety, wellbeing, and cultural connectedness of Aboriginal children, individual and families in their community.
Aboriginal Housing Victoria
To secure appropriate, affordable housing as a pathway to better lives and stronger communities. Its housing services are targeted to those most in need of support.
Bubup Wilam is an Aboriginal Child and Family Centre that provides Aboriginal children, families, and the community with access to an integrated range of services and programs, including early intervention and prevention programs, early year’s education, and health and wellbeing services.
Connecting Home is a service for the Stolen Generations working across South East Australia, that works using different programs such as aged care, disability and case management to support survivors on their journey of healing through walking with individuals and families on this journey and using goal setting principles.
Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS)
VAHS addresses the specific medical needs of Victorian indigenous communities and provides a comprehensive range of medical, dental and social services for the community.
Victoria Legal Aid (VLA)
VLA is an organisation that provides information, legal advice, and education with a focus on the prevention and early resolution of legal problems.
Whittlesea Community Connections – Community Legal Service
Whittlesea Community Connections Community Legal Service provides free legal help to people who live, work or study in the City of Whittlesea and surrounding communities. The aim is to make people more aware of the law so that they can make more informed decisions.
Womens Legal Service Victoria
Women’s Legal Service Victoria is a not-for-profit organisation that has been providing free legal services to women since 1982. We work with women experiencing disadvantage to address legal issues arising from relationship breakdown or violence.
Mens Legal Service
Offers cost-effective legal services available to men at turning points in the lives of men and their families. The primary focus is on assisting fathers to continue to be available and involved in the lives of their children after family law events.
Women’s Information & Referral Exchange (WIRE)
Women’s Information and Referral Exchange Inc - now extended its service to respond to the needs of non-binary and gender diverse people as well. The only Victoria-wide free generalist information, support and referral service run by women and non-binary people for women, non-binary, and gender-diverse people.
Women’s Legal Service Victoria
Women’s Legal Service Victoria is a not-for-profit organisation that has been providing free legal services to women since 1982. We work with women experiencing disadvantage to address legal issues arising from relationship breakdown or violence.
COVID – 19 Hotline
If you suspect you may have coronavirus (COVID-19) or are needing any COVID-19 support please call the dedicated hotline – open 24 hours, 7 days 1800 675 398 www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus