Extreme Hardship Support Program extension into first half of 2021

Noting that many people on temporary visas continue to experience financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Extreme Hardship Support Program will continue to deliver emergency financial assistance, information and referral into the first half of 2021. It is expected to finish sometime before June 2021.

What is Extreme Hardship Support Program?

The Extreme Hardship Support Program provides emergency financial assistance to people who are not eligible for Commonwealth Government income support. It is for people on temporary and provisional visas and undocumented migrants. The program started in July 2020. It assists people with zero or very limited savings, income or community support to pay for food, medicine and bills during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is Victorian Government assistance, delivered by Red Cross. The Brotherhood of St Laurence supports a Network of community organisations to identify and support eligible people to apply. From 1 October 2020 a single person can receive up to $800 for their first application and may be able to apply for another payment after two months if they are still experiencing financial hardship. Families may receive more, based on the number of people in the family and individual circumstances. In October 2020, the Victorian Government doubled the payment from $400 to $800. If you are still experiencing financial hardship after two months, you may be eligible for an additional payment. Each application will be assessed separately.

Eligibility criteria;
To apply, you must:

  • live in Victoria, and
  • not be eligible to receive income from the Commonwealth Government (such as JobKeeper or JobSeeker), and
  • have zero to very limited income, savings or community support, and
  • be a temporary or provisional visa holder, or an undocumented migrant

New changes for international students, following the closure of the International Student Emergency Relief Fund (ISERF) on 31 December 2020;

From 1 January 2021, all international students are experiencing financial hardship and who meet other eligibility criteria can apply, even if you previously received assistance through the International Student Emergency Relief Fund (ISERF). If you are an International Student and continue to experience financial hardship and your application to the Extreme Hardship Support Program was previously declined due to receiving ISERF, you can apply again.

Before you apply you need the following information;

  1. Evidence of your current visa status
    • passport number, visa grant number or Immi card number.
    • If you are uncertain, please leave the visa fields blank or select ‘uncertain’ and Red Cross will call you to discuss. Red Cross does not share personal or visa information with the government
  2. Evidence of financial hardship
    • all adult members of the family must submit all current bank statements dating back one month from the date of application
    • if you have joint accounts or regular transfers to other bank accounts you will need to provide bank statements for those accounts
    • screenshots are acceptable only if they show your name, account number and address

If you do not have a bank account or any of the other details listed above, please call Red Cross on 1800 855 240 to talk about alternatives. Red Cross will not report personal or visa information to the government.

How to apply;

  • Call Red Cross on 1800 855 240. Interpreters are available to assist in any language. The Red Cross website has information in simplified Chinese, Farsi, Malay, Nepalese, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu and Vietnamese.

For more information, please visit DHHS website on https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/financial-support-coronavirus-covid-19 for DHHS FAQs and Community sector fact sheet and information on financial and other available support for Covid-19.To receive program updates, or information sessions on the program eligibility criteria and application process for community members, frontline workers and volunteers, contact Brotherhood of St Laurence on (03) 9422 5650 or email Multicultural Communities Team (MCT) reception on MCT.Reception@bsl.org.au BSL can book interpreters for information sessions with community members if required.