Australian Banks Offer Emergency Relief to Bushfire Victims

The services being offered by ABA member banks to help customers include fee waivers, loan repayment deferrals, and additional financing to help cover cash flow shortages.

The ABA (Australian Banking Association) has announced a package of emergency measures to help communities impacted by “catastrophic” bushfires.

“It’s hard to truly comprehend the grief and devastation that communities and individuals have experienced, through one of the worst bushfire seasons that Australians have ever known,” said ABA acting CEO Vanessa Beggs. “Banks stand ready to support their customers through these very difficult times.”

“Banks have hardship teams that are ready to assist customers affected by natural disasters such as these, offering help which can include deferring loan repayments, waiving fees and consolidating debt to make it more manageable.”

The services being offered by ABA member banks to help customers include:

  • deferral of scheduled loan repayments
  • waiver of fees and charges, including break costs on early redemption of farm management deposits
  • debt consolidation to help make repayments more manageable
  • restructuring of existing loans free of the usual establishment fees
  • deferral of interest payments on a case-by-case basis
  • additional finance to help cover cash flow shortages
  • deferral of upcoming credit card payments
  • higher emergency credit card limits

Member banks include the ANZ, NAB, CBA, Westpac, Macquarie, AMP, Rabobank, Suncorp, ING, Bank of Queensland and ME Bank, among others.

According to SMH, NAB has also set up a AUD 1 million fund to help customers and staff displaced by the bushfires. NAB customers who have lost homes due to the bushfires can access AUD 2000 grants to help cover costs such as temporary accomodation, food and clothing.

Meanwhile, AFCA (Australian Financial Complaints Authority) has established a dedicated online bushfire support information hub to help in the support effort.

The service is provided to explain the financial recovery support AFCA can provide to families and small businesses impacted by the Australian bushfires, covering matters relating to insurance claims, financial complaints resolution, difficulties obtaining hardship assistance and small business support.

“It’s important that we ensure these communities have timely support and relevant information about financial recovery, and can get financial issues addressed quickly,” said AFCA executive general manager Rob Guest.

Feature image credit: Matthew Abbott, The New York Times

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