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Emergency relief support – Victoria

Financial relief including Extreme Hardship Support Program to meet urgent needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This page is also available in:
Chinese (Simplified) | Farsi | Malay | Nepali | Spanish | Tamil | Urdu | Vietnamese

We understand that many people have been impacted by COVID-19, and that you may need some financial relief to meet your most urgent needs.

Here is some important information to read before you contact us.

What is emergency relief?
Who is this service for?
How do I apply?
Application updates
I need help now
Extra support for people in Victoria
DFFH Extreme Hardship Support Program – FAQ

Extreme Hardship Support Program Flyer is available in:
Chinese (Simplified) | English | Malay | Nepali | Persian | Spanish | Tamil | Urdu | Vietnamese

What is emergency relief?

Emergency relief is to help people meet their basic needs, like food, medicine or shelter.

Australian Red Cross has received Victorian Government funding specifically to support people who do not have access to Commonwealth income support (including Job Seeker and SRSS).

The support is targeted to the most vulnerable temporary and provisional visa holders and undocumented migrants. 

An application can be made every 2 months and will be assessed against eligibility criteria at that time.

Emergency relief payments are not income support. They are limited and we know may not meet all needs that you have.

Who is this service for?

Applicants must meet all of the following:

live in Victoria

be unable to access Commonwealth income support (including Job Seeker and SRSS) 

have zero or very limited income, savings or community support

be a temporary or provisional visa holder, or undocumented migrant

How do I apply?

Before you start your application you will need:

1. Evidence of your current or most recent 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 we 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.

Submitting the above information will help us process your application as quickly as possible. If we need to ask you for missing information, this will delay the outcome.

You must attest that all information provided to Red Cross is true and correct. If this application contains information or documentation believed to be false or misleading, including concealing any relevant circumstances, your application will be declined.

If you need assistance with your online application, please call 1800 855 240 or email us. Our phone line operating hours are 9.30AM to 4.30PM, Monday to Friday. Please do not send any documents via email. To protect everyone’s safety during COVID-19, please do not come to our Red Cross offices.

You can also view our guide for step-by-step instructions for the online application:
English | Nepali | Tamil | Urdu | Persian

Application updates

Update 4/06/2021
We have recently received a large volume of applications and processing is taking longer than normal. If your application is complete; including all required information and supporting documentation, we will provide you an outcome as soon as possible.

Please note that there is no need to contact Red Cross to check on the status of your application, if we require anything further to assess your eligibility, we will contact you to request this.

Update 31/12/2020
Following the closure of the International Student Emergency Relief Fund (ISERF) of 31 December 2020, International Students who are experiencing financial hardship and who meet all other eligibility criteria are welcome to apply for the Extreme Hardship Support Program. 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 are welcome to apply again.

Update 2/10/2020
In October 2020, the Victorian Government doubled the payment from $400 to $800 for a single person. Families may receive more. This depends on the number of people in the family or your personal circumstances.

I need help now

If your health or safety is under threat now, please call 000.

If you can access your savings, or support from home, please do so.

If you require more information about food relief and community support services available during this pandemic please see state and territory resources and emergency relief providers below. 

If you are an international student, please contact your institution or Study Melbourne to see what support they can provide. International students struggling to pay for their food and groceries or in need of other emergency relief can find additional information at Study Melbourne’s community support and food relief website.  

If you are a tourist, on a working holiday visa or someone wanting to return to your home country, please contact your embassy or consulate to understand the support they can provide in the first instance.

If you need information about your visa, extensions, travel and other matters, the Home Affairs COVID-19 and the Border and Staying in Australia webpages have detailed information for temporary visa holders.

Additional resources that may be helpful:

State and territory resources

Department of Social Services emergency relief providers

Extra support for people in Victoria

COVID-19 Disaster Payment for people affected by restrictions

The Commonwealth Government has recently announced a new payment that will help Victorian workers who are unable to earn income due to the current lockdown restrictions. To be eligible you must meet all of the following:

  • be an Australian resident, permanent resident or eligible working visa holder
  • live or work in a Commonwealth declared hotspot
  • unable to work and earn income as a result of a state lockdown
  • the lockdown is for 7 days or more

Please note that temporary visa holders with work rights in Australia are also eligible for this payment. 

Find out more about the COVID-19 Disaster Payment.

COVID-19 health information

  • Practise good hygiene and regularly and thoroughly wash your hands.
  • Maintain physical distancing, keep at least 1.5 metres away from others.

If you need COVID-19 health information in your language, see DHHS COVID-19 translated resources.

If you would like information on about looking after the wellbeing of yourself and others during COVID-19, see information from Red Cross.

COVID-19 Vaccination

The COVID-19 vaccine is free and available to all people in Australia, including people who do not have a permanent visa or a Medicare card.

The vaccine is being delivered in phases. Groups at higher risk of becoming sick with COVID-19 have priority access. You can find out which phase you are in by using the Australian Government Department of Health eligibility checker.

For information about vaccines for COVID-19 visit the Victorian Government's coronavirus website.

For information about COVID-19 vaccine rollout and safety in languages other than English see the Victorian Government’s Translated information about COVID-19 vaccines

If you have questions or concerns, talk to your GP or health provider.

COVID-19 hotline and free testing

If you suspect you may have COVID-19, call the DHHS hotline on 1800 675 398. The hotline is open 24 hours, 7 days. If you need an interpreter, call 131 450 first.

If you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, you should seek advice and get tested. You can get a free test for COVID-19 (coronavirus) regardless of your Medicare or visa status. Find a testing location in your area.

The Victorian Government has expanded the 1800 COVID-19 hotline to help isolated Victorians stay connected. If you’re feeling lonely, give the COVID-19 hotline a call on 1800 675 398 and press ‘3’ to speak to an Australian Red Cross volunteer who can connect you to people in your local community. An interpreting service is available in 160 different languages. 

COVID-19 test isolation payment

If you have to miss work while you self-isolate and wait for COVID-19 test results, or are caring for someone who must self-isolate, you can apply for a $450 COVID-19 Test Isolation Payment. This Victorian Government payment will help to ensure that workers are able to isolate immediately and avoid potential transmission of the virus through workplaces. Find out more about eligibility requirements and apply.

If you are on a temporary or provisional visa or a visa recently expired and need to isolate safely but cannot access the Test Isolation Payment and Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, please call Red Cross on 1800 855 240.

COVID-19 pandemic leave payment

If you can't earn an income because you must self-isolate at home or are caring for someone with coronavirus (COVID-19), there is support for Victorians available. Find out more about eligibility requirements and apply.

Family violence support

If your health or safety is under threat now, call 000 immediately. Crisis and ongoing support is also available from these services:

  • 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) National sexual assault and domestic violence helpline
  • 13 11 14 Lifeline crisis support and suicide prevention
  • 1800 55 1800 Kids Helpline

Red Cross Family and Domestic Violence Financial Assistance Program provides financial assistance to people on temporary visas who are have experienced or are at risk of family and domestic violence. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply for Red Cross Family and Domestic Violence Financial assistance.

Mental health support

If you are facing mental health concerns or have concerns for someone you care for, Lifeline provides 24/7 confidential crisis support and suicide prevention services on 13 11 14. A free interpreting service for people who do not speak English is available. To access this service please call 13 14 50 and ask to talk to Lifeline on 13 11 14 in the language required.

Refugees and people seeking asylum can also access specialist medical and mental health support.

Working in Australia

All workers in Australia have the same rights at work, regardless of where you come from or what visa you have. Your employer must:

  • Pay you correctly for all time worked
  • Provide a safe workplace, including COVID safe 
  • Allowing you to join a union

Red Cross provides support for people who have been affected by labour exploitation, domestic servitude, forced labour, and modern slavery through its Support for Trafficked People’s Program.  More information about the program and these issues (in a range of languages) is available here.