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Financial hardship happens when you are unable to meet repayment obligations for a service that you're using. Basically, you're finding it hard to pay one or more of your bills.

When people sign up to a plan or service, they're usually confident they'll be able to pay the bill. Unfortunately later, due to an unexpected event or circumstance, they are unable to pay anymore. In other cases, there are those that are unable to afford the bill from the beginning. These situations are all covered by the term 'financial hardship'.

If you find yourself unable to pay you will need to tell your telephone, mobile or internet provider you are experiencing "financial hardship". The company's customer service representative can then offer you the help you need.


Financial Counselling Australia – get in touch with a Financial Counsellor.

Debt self help tools – try this handy tool kit.

Centrelink emergency payments

Emergency information – The ABC is Australia's official emergency broadcaster and has links to survival planning and other prevention strategies.

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) – The TIO is a fast, free and fair service that helps resolve telephone and internet complaints.

Financial Rights Legal Centre – some fantastic information to help you find the best help when in debt and how to avoid dodgy credit solutions.

National Children's and Youth Law Centre – a free legal service for people under the age of 25.


The TIO, Australian telcos and financial counsellors have worked together to develop best practice guidelines to assist telcos to help customers who are experiencing financial hardship.

The second edition of the guide, Responding to Customers in Financial Hardship: Principles and Practices for Telecommunications Providers, was published in May 2017.




This page contains information about the people and services that can help you if you are struggling to pay a bill. You can get help from your service provider, a financial counsellor, and a range of other free services.

If you find yourself in a position where you cannot pay a bill:

  • Do not ignore the bill. Contact your service provider to discuss your options. You can agree on a payment plan or come to another arrangement.

  • Ask your service provider to waive late payment and other penalty fees.

  • Your provider can disconnect, suspend, or restrict your services if you do not pay. In most cases, they must warn you in writing at least twice, and at least five days before your service is disconnected.

  • If your service is disconnected, suspended, or restricted, you can ask your service provider to review the decision.

  • If you cannot reach an agreement with your provider about a payment plan, you should contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).