Guide to Australian bushfire bank emergency relief packages

By Katherine O'Chee ·

Australian banks, big and small, have stepped in to help communities across the country devastated by the bushfire emergency.

The Australian Bankers Association (ABA) on Friday announced changes to support home loan, personal loan, credit card and home insurance customers facing financial hardship due to the bushfires. 

Affected customers can have fees and charges waived, loan repayments deferred and existing loans restructured. Various ABA member banks include the big four banks, ING, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Rabobank, Bank of Queensland, and Suncorp.

While a number of lenders released emergency relief packages in November, many have since extended these, in light of the growing bushfire crisis. All of the big four banks have also pledged million-dollar packages to provide further assistance. 

Below is a snapshot of some of the relief packages being offered by the big four banks and other smaller lenders, as well as their contact details should you need financial assistance. 

Big 4 Banks 

ANZ 

ANZ has expanded its bushfire relief package - which previously covered NSW and southern Queensland - to all of its affected customers across Australia. The package offers options like:

  • Suspended loan repayments for up to three months
  • Temporary interest rate relief for credit cards and personal loan customers
  • Waived fees that come with restructuring business loans
  • Waived fees for early term deposit withdrawals 
  • Assistance for ANZ Home and Contents insurance customers - emergency funds, temporary accommodation 

Get in touch: Contact ANZ’s financial hardship team on 1800 149 549 or visit anz.com/hardship. To lodge an insurance claim, you can call 13 16 14 or visit anz.com/insuranceclaims.  

NAB

NAB is offering ongoing relief to customers impacted by bushfires in NSW, Queensland and South Australia, with measures in place such as:

  • Deferred home loan and personal loan repayments
  • Waived costs and charges for withdrawing term deposits early
  • Waived home loan and personal loan application fees

Under NAB’s $1 million Disaster Relief Fund, customers who have lost their homes this bushfire season can also access $2,000 grants to help cover immediate costs such as temporary accommodation, food and clothing. 

Get in touch: Visit your nearest NAB branch, or contact the NAB Assist team on 1300 683 106. 

Commonwealth Bank

CommBank has extended its Emergency Assistance Package for bushfire-affected customers to all volunteer firefighters, who are encouraged to reach out if they have been financially impacted. 

Besides waived fees and loan restructuring, the package also offers emergency accommodation assistance and expedited insurance claims to CommInsure customers whose homes have been damaged. The major bank said it will also consider requests for additional loans, including emergency credit limit raises (subject to credit approval). 

Get in touch: Visit your nearest CommBank branch, or phone the Special Assistance hotline 1300 720 814. If you’re a business customer with a business loan or a line of credit, call 13 26 07 or your dedicated CommBank relationship manager. 

Westpac

Westpac has also extended its Disaster Relief Package for affected Westpac, Bank of Melbourne and St. George customers in NSW and Victoria. These customers can access a range of support, including: 

  • Deferred repayments for up to three months
  • Loan restructuring (while avoiding establishment fees and break costs)
  • Discounted personal loans for customers looking to buy replacement items
  • Waived interest rate reductions for early term deposit withdrawals
  • Assistance for insurance customers in accessing emergency accommodation

Get in touch: Contact Westpac Assist on 1800 067 497 or call your local Bank Manager. 

Smaller lenders

Homestar 

Online home loan lender Homestar has just announced a financial care package for customers who are volunteer firefighters, have damaged property or have lost employment due to the bushfire crisis. This package will include relief from interest charges for three months and a loan repayment holiday for up to 12 months.

Homestar will also be raising funds to support the NSW Rural Fire Service, the VIC Country Fire Authority, The Salvation Army and WIRES Wildlife Rescue. For each loan application that Homestar receives this and next month, it will be donating $250 to one of these charities. All you’ll need to do is talk to one of Homestar’s loan specialists, fill in your application and select the charity of your choice.  

Get in touch: Contact Homestar on 1300 099 382 for more info on its financial care package. 

Rabobank 

Rabobank is offering extended support measures to its customers whose farms and agribusinesses have been impacted by the bushfires - from deferring scheduled loan repayments, to waiving costs associated with withdrawing farm management deposits early, increasing loans for rebuilding operations, and variations to equipment finance. 

Get in touch: Contact your local branch, or phone Rabobank on 1800 025 484. 

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank 

Likewise, Bendigo Bank has an Assistance Package for its bushfire-affected customers, including home loan and business loan relief for up to three months, emergency credit card limit increases, discounted rates on new personal loans, and no rate reductions for early term deposit withdrawals. 

Get in touch: Contact your local Branch Manager, Business Manager or the Mortgage Help Centre on 1300 652 126. To make an insurance claim, call 13 24 80. 

Suncorp

Suncorp is also providing a relief package to support its customers through the bushfire crisis. This package comes with flexible finance options ranging from loan repayment deferrals to early withdrawal fee waivers for term deposits and farm management deposits. Credit cardholders could receive assistance in the form of repayment relief and emergency credit limit increases. 

Get in touch: Contact your relationship manager, or phone Suncorp on 13 11 55. To lodge an insurance claim, call 13 25 24 or visit www.suncorp.com.au. 

Bank of Sydney 

Bank of Sydney is offering support to bushfire-affected customers, with options such as no fees on early term deposit withdrawals, deferred loan repayments for a short period of time, and reduced repayments by temporarily converting their facility from Principal & Interest to Interest-only repayments. 

Get in touch: Contact your local Branch Manager, call 1300 266 546 or visit www.banksyd.com.au/financial-hardship.html

Other ABA member banks offering financial assistance 

If you’re a customer of an ABA member bank not listed above, you can visit this page to find out the contact details of your bank, so that you can seek out the right financial hardship options to help you and your family through the bushfire crisis. 

What’s my next step? 

While this is a stressful and devastating time, it’s important to follow these steps to get your home insurance claim sorted out quickly and get back on your feet: 

  • Contact your home insurer as soon as possible - over the phone, online or through an app. 
  • If your home insurance documents have been damaged, don’t panic! Your insurer will only require the name of the policyholder and your home address. 
  • Take photos and videos of any damage to your home or belongings as proof of loss.
  • Make an inventory of the damage from the furniture to the door frames. 
  • Avoid touching, repairing or moving items on your property, unless it’s a safety risk. 

If you want any further tips on how to successfully submit a home insurance claim, you can check out our comprehensive guide.

Katherine O'Chee
Katherine O'Chee
Money writer

Katherine O’Chee is Mozo’s international money transfer and forex expert and business banking writer. She keeps Mozo’s readers on top of the latest news and writes in-depth features to inform and help Australians make smarter financial decisions. Her work has been published in major media outlets including Sydney Morning Herald, SBS News and Bangkok Post. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) from the University of Sydney.