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Support for Australian households

Last updated 29/09/2020

Essential information

  • If you can’t pay your energy bills on time, help is available.

  • The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has set reasonable expectations of energy companies to protect householders and small business customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Protections for households and small businesses during COVID-19 have been extended to 31 October 2020.
  • National Coronavirus Helpline. Call 1800 020 080 if you're seeking information on coronavirus (COVID-19) or help with the COVIDSafe app. The line operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • To get the latest information on COVID-19:
    • Download the 'COVIDSafe' government app in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. This highly secure app enables public health workers to notify people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 more quickly and effectively. The COVIDSafe app is now available in Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Greek, Italian, Korean, Punjabi, Turkish and Vietnamese.  
    • Download the 'Coronavirus Australia' government app in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. This app includes essential information on government actions, a symptom checker, news and contact information.
    • Join the WhatsApp channel on iOS or Android.
  • Information is available in community languages.
  • Being home more and working from home will increase your energy use and costs. We have advice on how to save on your bill by:
    • ensuring you're on the best energy plan for your circumstances
    • getting the rebates and help you're eligible for
    • reducing energy use at home
    • switching energy providers.

Billing and payment help

  1. If you or your business are having trouble paying your bill you should call your electricity or gas provider. Their phone number is on your bill.
  2. Ask about what hardship support they can offer you. They have staff trained to assist.
  3. Ask to go on a payment plan, to pay your bill over a longer time or make small regular payments.
  4. Stay on the plan to protect yourself from disconnection, interest payments and late fees.
  5. Ask if there are government concessions or rebates to help you at home or at work.

Ask current energy retailer if they can offer you a better deal. If they can’t give you more help you can switch providers to save. We step you through how to do this using free comparator sites on our Find the best energy deal page.

Ask your retailer if you are on all of the concessions you may be entitled to. You can also check for all of the government rebates and assistance in your state or territory.

If your energy bill seems wrong, your retailer must review it if requested.

If you're still not satisfied, contact the energy ombudsman in your state or territory. An ombudsman is a free and independent dispute resolution service. Their numbers are listed below.

If you receive a disconnection notice from your retailer, contact them immediately to discuss your options. You should not be disconnected during a protected period, such as a weekend or public holiday. People registered as depending on a life-support system have further protections from disconnection.

Some states and territories and some energy retailers have announced a pause on disconnections during the COVID-19 emergency.

Working from home and energy use

These tips can help you save energy working from home. Detailed information on how to save energy is available for households and businesses.

Heating and cooling

  • Around 40% of home energy use can go on heating and cooling. Close off rooms not in use. Set your heating between 18°C and 20°C and your cooling between 25°C and 27°C.
  • For every degree you increase heating and cooling, you increase energy use between 5% and 10%.
  • Dress comfortably. You may need to look professional from the waist up for virtual meetings, but working from home means you can dress for the season.

Computers

  • Close any applications you’re not using.
  • Don’t use active or animated screensavers.
  • Ensure air vents on computer towers and laptops are kept clear and away from objects.
  • If purchasing new equipment, look for the Energy Rating Label on all computer monitors—the more stars the better.
  • Laptops, ultrabooks and notebooks use less energy than desktop computers and can be battery-operated for extended periods.
  • Reduce screen brightness to the lowest, visibly comfortable setting.
  • Set your monitor to switch off/sleep after 10 minutes of inactivity.
  • Switch off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when you’re not using them as they use a substantial amount of power by constantly searching for a signal.
  • Switch off when you’ve finished using your device, or set a timer.
  • Unplug any USB devices (like mice, keyboards, speakers and flash drives) when not in use.

Mobile phones

  • Delete unwanted apps. The more applications your smartphone has, the faster the power will drain.
  • Reduce screen brightness and turn off live (animated) wallpapers to reduce battery drain.
  • Set your notification alerts to check at 30 minute intervals (or longer) and close applications when you don’t need them. This can also make a big difference to your data usage.
  • Shorten the amount of time for the screen to turn off automatically—try 30 seconds.
  • Switch off Bluetooth and GPS when you’re not using them as they use a substantial amount of power by constantly searching for signal.
  • Switch off chargers at the wall once charging is complete, and avoid charging overnight if you can. 
  • Use aeroplane mode where applicable.

Office equipment

  • ‘Think before you print’ and opt for a printer that prints on both sides of the paper—saving both time and resources.
  • Turn off your printer, copier, scanner and multi-function devices when you're not using them.

More information

COVID-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and support (NDIS) Australian Government

COVID-19 (Australian Taxation Office) Australian Government

COVID-19 health alert (Department of Health) Australian Government

COVID-19 information for people with a disability NDIS Commission

COVID-19 and pets RSPCA 

Eco-friendly alternatives to disposable face masks Sustainability Victoria

Mental health and wellbeing resources 

Government

Looking after your mental health during coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions (Department of Health) Australian Government

Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line (Department of Health) Australian Government - Call 1800 171 866

ACT Mental health and wellbeing during COVID-19 ACT Government

NSW COVID-19 mental wellbeing services NSW Government

NT Mental health Northern Territory Government

Qld COVID-19 and mental health Queensland Government

SA Mental health support - COVID-19 Government of South Australia

Tas Mental health and wellbeing support Tasmanian Government

Vic How to look after your mental health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak Government of Victoria

WA Mental health and COVID-19 Government of Western

Non-government

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-specific programs Orygen - Call 1800 888 320

Connecting young Victorians with enhanced digital mental health care Orygen - Call 1800 888 320

COVID Connect Australian Red Cross - 1800 733 276

COVID-19 Hub People with Disability Australia

COVID-19: If you’re affected by complex mental health issues, we’re here for you SANE Australia - Call 1800 187 263

Coronavirus (COVID-19) mental health resources Phoenix Australia

Coronavirus mental wellbeing support service Beyond Blue - Call 1800 512 348

Coronavirus: Resources for anxiety and stress Black Dog Institute

headspace is still here for you during COVID-19 headspace - Call 1800 650 890

Mental health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak Lifeline - Call 13 1114

Mensline Australia - Call 1300 789 978

ReachOut.com (provides specially targeted information to help any young person who visits the service)

ReachOut.com/Parents (supporting your teen during COVID-19) 

Rural Alive and Well - Call 1300 4357 6283

Staying connected is more important than ever RUOK

Suicide Call Back Service (provides professional 24/7 telephone and online counselling to people who are affected by suicide) - Call 1300 659 467 

Your guide to everything novel coronavirus (COVID-19)! kidshelpline - Call 1800 551 800

Translations

Australian Government Department of Health Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Make mental health a priority (other languages) in Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Croatian, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Macedonian, Nepali, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Serbian, Spanish, Tamil, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese.

Beyond Blue - Managing your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic in languages other than English in Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Assyrian, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Burmese, Chin (Haka), Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Croatian, Dari, Dinka, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hazaragi,  Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Karen, Khmer, Kirundi, Korean, Kurdish, Lao, Macedonian, Malayalam, Maltese, Nepali, Pashto, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Rohingya, Romanian, Russian, Samoan, Serbian, Sinhalese, Slovak, Slovenian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tamil, Thai, Tibetan, Tigrinya, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese.

Financial help and advice

Energy bill help Australian Energy Council

Financial difficulty Australian Banking Association (membership comprises 22 banks from across Australia)

Financial support for customers in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia Energy Networks Australia

Problems paying your bills and fines moneysmart.gov.au 

Rebates and assistance 

Retailers confirm support for energy customers Australian Energy Council (membership comprises 23 major electricity and downstream natural gas businesses, covering 10 million homes and businesses)

Seniors Guide

Your rights as an energy customer  

Jobs and job seekers

Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package Australian Government (payments to ensure services can remain open, and families who need it can access care)

jobactive Australian Government (search for jobs, plus jobseeking hints and tips and more)

Jobs Hub Australian Government (up-to-date list of a selection of businesses and organisations that are currently hiring, and how to contact them)

JobKeeper Payment Australian Government (to keep more Australians in jobs and support businesses affected by the COVID-19)

JobSeeker Payment Australian Government (financial help if you're between 22 and Age Pension age and looking for work) 

Energy and water ombudsman

ACT Energy and water ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal - Call 02 6207 7740

NSW Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW - Call 1800 246 545

NT Ombudsman NT - Call 1800 806 380

Qld Energy & Water Ombudsman - Call 1800 662 837

SA Energy & Water Ombudsman SA - Call 1800 665 565

Tas Ombudsman Tasmania - Call 1800 001 170

Tas Energy Ombudsman Tasmania - Call 1800 001 170

Vic Energy and Water Ombudsman - Call 1800 500 509

WA Energy and Water Ombudsman - Call 1800 754 004

Information in community languages other than English

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Audio files with health messages for COVID-19 in Aboriginal languages Northern Territory Government

The latest must-know updates on Coronavirus for Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (NITV) SBS

YouTube videos on social distancing, proper handwashing techniques and restrictions on gatherings and travel Northern Land Council 

Deaf, deaf/blind and hearing impaired

COVID-19 - Auslan Updates Expression Australia

COVID-19 - coronavirus pandemic deafness forum of Australia

Translated information and resources

Australian Energy Council - Energy bill help Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Hindi, Italian, Pashto, Punjabi, Somali, Sudanese, Turkish, Vietnamese.

Australian Government Department of Health resources about COVID-19 in Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Chin (Haka), Farsi, Greek, Hazaragi, Italian, Korean, Kurdish, Spanish, Vietnamese.

Australian Government Department of Home Affairs translated information and resources about COVID-19​ in Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Assyrian, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Burmese, Chin (Haka), Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Croatian, Dari, Dinka, Dutch, Farsi, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hazaragi, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Karen, Khmer, Kirundi, Korean, Kurdish, Lao, Macedonian, Malayalam, Maltese, Nepali, Pashto, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Rohingya, Romanian, Russian, Samoan, Serbian, Sinhalese, Slovak, Slovenian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tamil, Thai, Tibetan, Tigrinya, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese.

Coronavirus information in your language - SBS in Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Assyrian, Bangla, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Burmese, Cantonese, Chin (Haka), Croatian, Dari, Dinka, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Karen, Khmer, Kirundi, Korean, Kurdish, Lao, Macedonian, Malayalam, Maltese, Mandarin, Nepali, NITV Radio, Pashto, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Rohingya, Romanian, Russian, Samoan, Serbian, Sinhalese, Slovak, Slovenian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tamil, Thai, Tibetan, Tigrinya, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese.

eSafety Commissioner online safety advice and resources in other languages in Arabic, Cambodian, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Dari, Dinka, Filipino, Greek, Hazaragi, Hindi, Italian, Karen, Persian, Punjabi, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese. 

Information on how to save energy and water at home in Arabic, Bosnian, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Croatian, Dari, Dinka, Filipino, Greek, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Karen, Khmer, Kirundi, Korean, Kurmanj, Macedonian, Malay, Persian (Farsi), Punjabi, Russian, Serbian, Shona, Sinhala, Somali, Spanish, Sudanese, Swahili, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese.

Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services videos with tips for fitting face masks and how to make a cloth mask in Albanian, Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Greek, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Spanish, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese.

Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services translated resources about COVID-19 in Amharic, Arabic, Assyrian, Bengali, Burmese, Cantonese, Chaldean, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Croatian, Dari, Dinka, Filipino, French, Greek, Gujarati, Hazaragi, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Karen, Khmer, Korean, Kurmanji, Macedonian, Maltese, Mandarin, Nepali, Oromo, Pashto, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Serbian, Sinhalese, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tamil, Thai, Tigrinya, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese, Zomi.

Victorian Health Translations provides 22,000+ resources in more than 100 languages. 

State and territory government information on COVID-19

ACT Government information

NSW Government information

NT Government information

Qld Government information

SA Government information

Tas Government information

Vic Government information

WA Government information