Financial Inclusion

On this page:
Financial Counselling
No Interest Loan Scheme
Discounts on Fridges and TVs (HEAP)
Emergency Relief Assistance
Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) Vouchers 

 

Financial counselling

Financial Counsellors assist people experiencing financial difficulty by providing information and support to help deal with their problems, manage their debts and alleviate the stress of financial hardship. 

If you have any problems understanding your finances; or feel stressed because of overdue bills, please call us. This includes electricity and gas bills; rental arrears; mortgage payments; loans to banks, credit unions and payday lenders; as well as car or other personal loans. 

Our financial counsellors can help guide you on saving money or sorting out problems with your bank. They can also advocate on your behalf with banks, lending institutions and creditors. 

This is a FREE service provided by Metro Assist. Sessions can be held face-to-face or via telephone appointment. 

 

Financial Counselling is available for anyone: 

• Having difficulties managing and spending their money

• Behind on any rental or mortgage repayments

• Who has received legal notice regarding debts obtained.

• Struggling to pay credit card or short-term loans

• Who wants to manage their money better and set budget goals

 

How do I make an appointment to see a Financial Counsellor?

All referrals will be taken by our receptionists. Reception will complete the referral form on behalf of the clients and will book the client in to see a Financial Counsellor. 

Please call our reception on (02) 9789 3744.

 

No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS)

The No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) is a community-based loans program. The NILS program offers low-income earners, safe and affordable access to a number of loans up to $1500. The loans are interest free, there are no fees, and repayments are arranged over 12 to 18 months.

NILS cannot be used for cash, rent arrears, holidays, bills or debt consolidation. The loan funds are paid to the store or service provider.

 

What items can I apply for within the NILS?

• Furniture and whitegoods (stoves, fridges, washing machines)

• Educational necessities such as computers and textbooks

• Some medical and dental services

• Car repairs

• Other items on request

 

To be eligible for the NILS you need to:

• Have a health care card/pension card or earn less than $45,000 a year (after tax)

• Have lived in your current premises for more than three months

• Show that you are able to repay the loan in the allotted time period.

 

How do I make an appointment for NILS?

All referrals will be taken at reception. Reception will complete the referral/ intake form on behalf of the clients and will make a booking with a NILS team member. They will advise the client to seek quotes that you will need to bring along to your appointment.

 

Please call our reception on (02) 9789 3744.

 

Home Energy Action Program (HEAP)

The Home Energy Action Program (HEAP) can help you can get a 40-50% discount on a new fridge or TV.  Together with the Office of Environment and Heritage and the Good Guys, we offer discounts on selected new energy-efficient fridges and TVs to replace old models. This discount is available to low-income earners or those who receive income support from Centrelink. 

 

To be eligible for HEAP discounts you must:

• Hold a Centrelink Health Care Card or a Pension Card

• Have lived for at least three months in the Marrickville, Canterbury, Bankstown, Strathfield or Burwood local government areas

• Show that you can repay the loan in the allotted time

 

For more information on HEAP, please call our reception on (02) 9789 3744.

 

Emergency Relief Assistance

Metro Assist provides relief assistance to help people address immediate basic needs in times of financial distress or hardship. This assistance is a first point of contact for individuals with complex needs, allowing for referral to more intensive support from our financial counselling team. All financial support is made by vouchers, not in cash and is provided on a short-term, case-by-case basis.

Referral onto our financial counselling service provides clients with a wrap-around approach that can lead to better outcomes and assist individuals to avoid potential dependence on emergency relief assistance.

Our service is only available to the residents of Canterbury Bankstown, Inner West, Canada Bay, Georges River, Bayside and any of the COVID hotspot local government areas in Sydney.

If you live in other parts of the Sydney you can find the emergency relief providers from the Department of Social Services directory or we can help you find your local emergency relief providers in your area.

 

Who can access emergency assistance?

• Low-income earners or those recieving no payments at all

• People experiencing domestic and family violence

 People experiencing homelessness

• People experiencing financial hardship

 

What we can provide: 

• Food voucher (e-vouchers or voucher can be sent via mail)

• Opal cards (online top-up or via mail)

• Chemist bill payments (directly paid to supplier upon receipt of invoice) 

• Part-payment of utility account (1/3 of the overall bill, provided online)

• Part payment of Telstra home phone and internet (sent via mail)

• Budgeting assistance 

• Referrals to other services that help to address underlying causes of financial crisis

 

What documents do I need to bring to be approved for relief assistance?

• Current ID that show your address such as driver licences, council rate or utility bills

• Recent bank statement (three months minimum requirement)

• Current Centrelink statement if applicable

• If seeking medical assistance, you will need to provide the tax invoice, medical bill or pharmaceutical invoice

• If seeking payment for a utility bill, you will need to provide original bill that matches the support amount you are requesting

 

How do I make an appointment for relief assistance?

All referrals will be taken at reception. Reception will complete the referral/ intake form on behalf of the clients and a support worker will contact client.

Please call our reception on (02) 9789 3744.

If you are unable to get an appointment with us, you can access other relief support services. To find other service providers, click here. 

 

Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) Vouchers

If you're having difficulty paying your current household energy bill due to a short-term financial crisis or emergency, Metro Assist may be able to provide EAPA vouchers to help. EAPA vouchers are sent electronically to your energy retailer to help pay your home electricity or gas account. Applying for EAPA vouchers involves an eligibility assessment by Metro Assist staff and is assessed on a case-by-case basis for approval. EAPA voucher limits apply and vouchers cannot be used to put your energy account into credit, on closed accounts, or if your account has already been paid.

Please note that EAPA assistance is a short-term support and reoccurring clients will be asked to see our financial counselling service to provide long-term financial budgeting support.

 

To be eligible for EAPA vouchers, you must: 

• Have an electricity or natural gas account for a NSW residential address. This must be your primary place of residence and the account must be active at the time of your assessment

• Be the electricity or natural gas account holder (the account and bill must be in your name)

• Be experiencing a short-term financial crisis or emergency that has caused you financial hardship and impacted your ability to pay your current residential energy bill (in part or in full). 

 

You are not eligible if you:

• Use liquid petroleum gas (LPG) bottles for your gas supply; however, you may be eligible for a gas rebate

• Are residing in embedded networks (e.g. some strata plans, retirement villages and residential parks)

• Have already paid your energy bill

• Have a business account

• Have closed your energy account

 

What documents do I need to be approved for an EAPA voucher?

You need to provide two proof of identity documents – the names on the two documents must match and also match the name on the supply address on the electricity or natural gas account. You must also provide your personal and contact details (name, date of birth, address, email and phone number) and a copy of your current electricity and/or gas bill.

This bill must include your:

• First and last name (your account and bill must be in your name)

• Energy retailer's name

• Energy account number

• National Meter Identifier (NMI) number for electricity bills, or

• Delivery Point Identifier (DPI)/Meter Installation Registration Number (MIRN) for gas bills

• Confirmation that you are currently on a hardship plan with your retailer (if applicable)

• Evidence of financial crisis, such as an employment termination notice or medical expenses (optional). 

 

How do I make an appointment for EAPA assistance?

All referrals will be taken at reception. Reception will complete the referral/ intake form on behalf of the clients and a support worker will contact the client.

Please call our reception on (02) 9789 3744.


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