- Cancer Information
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- Cancer and your finances
- Reducing debts and expenses
- Utility bills
Utilities include services like electricity, gas, water, phone and internet. If you need help paying for your utilities, you have some options.
Learn more about:
- Applying for hardship programs
- Checking if you can get a rebate or concession
- Asking about payment vouchers and grants
- Registering for an energy efficiency program
Apply for hardship programs
Most utility providers are required by law to offer flexible payment options to customers who are having trouble paying their bills. How a hardship program works will vary from provider to provider. You may be able to set up a payment plan that will allow you to pay later (defer the payment) or pay several smaller amounts over a set period (pay by instalments). Details are usually available on the company’s website, or call them and ask them to send you a copy of their hardship policy.
Once you register with a hardship program and are regularly paying something off your bill, your utility provider cannot disconnect your supply.
- To find out more about registering with a hardship program, contact your service provider.
- If you need help resolving a dispute about phones or the internet, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman may be able to help. Call them on 1800 062 058.
- If you need help resolving a dispute about water or energy, contact your state’s energy and water ombudsman. In NSW visit the Energy and Water Ombudsman or call 1800 246 545.
- For more information, see our Dealing with debts and Help with bills fact sheets.
Check if you can get a rebate or concession
Rebates and concessions can reduce the amount you owe on your utility bills. They are usually available to customers on low incomes, people receiving certain Centrelink payments, and some concession card holders. Special rebates may be available to customers who are medically unable to regulate their body temperature, or who need to use certain essential medical equipment (such as an oxygen concentrator) at home.
Contact your provider to apply for a rebate or concession on your electricity, gas or water bill.
Ask about payment vouchers and grants
In most states and territories, customers in financial hardship can receive payment assistance vouchers or grants to put towards their utility bills. These may be distributed through community welfare agencies such as the Salvation Army, or directly by the relevant state or territory government department.
Get in touch with a participating community organisation or the relevant government department – for contact details, see the list of rebates and vouchers at moneysmart.gov.au (search for “utility bills”).
Register for an energy efficiency program
You can try to reduce your power and water bills by changing how and when you use energy. Some states and territories offer free energy and water efficiency assessments to help customers find ways to reduce their usage. They may also assist with energy-saving or water-saving repairs and alterations, such as offering a reduced fee for a plumber to fix your leaking taps.
Visit energy.gov.au for energy-saving tips and to find assistance in your state or territory. Download the Light Bulb Saver app from the App Store or Google Play to see how much money you can save by using energy-efficient alternatives.
I was embarrassed to ask for help, but it was a bad time for me to get sick. Getting help paying my water rates was much appreciated. I’m now on the mend and the future looks good.George
Podcast: Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis
Rania Tannous, Head of Legal, Corporate, Legal and Governance, AMP; Patricia Troll, Senior Legal Counsel, AMP Financial Services Legal, Legal and Governance, AMP; Lynette Brailey, Program Coordinator, Financial Assistance Service, Cancer Council NSW; Stephen Bray, Financial Planner, FM Financial, TAS; Angela Daly, Senior Social Worker, Cancer Services, The Adem Crosby Centre, Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, QLD; Sandra Hodge, Consumer; Sandi Johnson, Consumer; Antony Mitchell, Financial Counsellor, Financial Counselling Program, Cancer Council VIC; Lucy Pollerd, Social Worker, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Heather Richards, Consumer; Deb Roffe, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA.
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