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LENDERS SUPPORT HOME OWNERS IMPACTED BY THE BUSHFIRE CRISIS

Banks and non-bank lenders rally to support home owners who have been impacted by the Australian bushfires.

Of course, the biggest news right now is the bushfires. The devastation across the country has been horrific with at least 27 people having lost their lives, destruction of homes now in the thousands, and the decimation of our precious wildlife and bushland. Fires are still burning in several states and impacting air quality across the nation.

Air quality in Canberra was “the worst in the world” on Sunday 5/01/2020. Mum and I went to get some groceries and opted to wear a mask rather than breathe in the thick smoke that was blanketing the city. We feel blessed that the ACT remains fire-free.

It is heartening to see that many celebrities and ordinary Australians are donating to the bushfire relief effort. Even the banks have jumped on board with the major banks announcing million-dollar donation packages to support affected individuals and communities including supporting frontline organisations like the fire services.

In this article I’m only going to talk about relief packages specifically targeting home owners.

ANZ bushfire relief package

ANZ’s existing financial relief package of $1 million includes the ability to suspend repayments on loans for up to three months, as well as temporary interest rate relief for credit card and personal loan customers in extreme financial distress. If you are an ANZ customer and have been impacted by the fires, you can contact a dedicated hotline on 1800 149 549.

CBA bushfire relief package

CBA also pledged to donate $1 million towards bushfire disaster relief efforts including loan restructuring and waiving of selected fees and charges to customers affected by the bushfires. You can contact the CBA to discuss your individual circumstances by either phoning 1300 720 814 or visiting their nearest Commonwealth Bank branch.

NAB bushfire relief package

On 7/01/2020, NAB extended its contribution to the bushfire recovery effort to $5 million. The package includes up to a three-year deferral of interest and repayments for existing NAB loans where individual circumstances warrant, and a commitment not to foreclose upon, or force the sale of existing loans for up to three years.

If you are a NAB customers and have lost your home, you can immediately access a $2000 grant to assist with your urgent needs such as food, clothing and temporary accommodation.  These funds will be deposited directly into your account as early as next business day.

The best way to get assistance is to visit your nearest open NAB branch or call NAB Assist on 1300 683 106 (8am-8pm Mon-Fri, or 9am-1pm on Saturdays AEST/AEDT).

Westpac bushfire fund

Westpac Group has established a $1.5 million Bushfire Fund. $500,000 in grants is available to immediately support customers whose properties have been destroyed or damaged. Grants of up to $2000 can be accessed to help cover temporary accommodation, food and clothing. If you are a Westpac customer, you can contact Westpac on 1300 369 989 if you need assistance. Claims can be lodged 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling this number.

Macquarie disaster relief assistance

Macquarie can offer customers the following immediate financial relief:

  • Home loans – a one month relief period for customers to assess their situation or we can offer an immediate deferral of three months payments. Call 1300 363 330.
  • Credit Cards – a three month moratorium, including 0% interest and no fees. Call 1800 674 922

You can also visit the Macquarie bank website for more information.

Contact details for other lenders offering financial assistance

Adelaide Bank: 1300 650 259 Bushfire assistance

Bankwest: 1300 769 173, Experiencing financial hardship

ING: 1300 349 166, Financial Hardship

ME Bank: 1300 500 520, ME Bank financial hardship

Resimac (non-bank lender):  Financial hardship assistance

St. George Bank: 1800 629 795, St. George Assist

Virgin Money: Disaster relief – emergency assistance

Government Assistance

If you’ve been affected by fires, you may also be eligible for government assistance. For more on this, you can visit the below websites:

  • Disaster Assist: disasterassist.gov.au/Pages/home.aspx
  • Emergency Relief: dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/communities-and-vulnerable-people/programs-services/emergency-relief