I'm having financial problems
If you or someone you know is struggling with their gambling, it’s likely that you or they are also facing a difficult time financially.
If you are facing problems with money, it’s wise to first speak to a financial counsellor. Financial counsellors are trained professionals who can provide you with advice and help you to get your finances back on track.
If you have already received a court document related to your financial situation it is still wise to speak to a financial counsellor first. If you have been charged with a financial crime, you should also seek legal advice.
Financial counselling is a great way to help you regain control. Financial counsellors are trained professionals who can help you work your way out of money difficulties as a result of gambling.
There are also some other options that can assist you with your financial difficulties.
National Debt Helpline
The National Debt Helpline is a phone-only service that can provide advice, direct you to helpful information and refer you to financial counsellors for people in financial difficulty or who seek financial advice.
Call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 between Monday–Friday from 9:30am–4:30pm.
Financial Rights Legal Centre
The Financial Rights Legal Centre provides consumers with comprehensive legal advice on credit and debt issues, debt collection, debt enforcement in the Local Court, credit reports, insurance and bankruptcy.
Call the Financial Rights Legal Centre on 1800 844 949 for free legal financial advice. Available between Monday–Friday from 10am–1pm. You can also review the Financial Rights Legal Centre’s factsheets for more information.
Mob Strong Debt Help
Run by the Financial Rights Legal Centre, Mob Strong Debt Help is a program designed to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who seek free telephone legal advice. The legal advice ranges from credit, debt, banking and insurance.
Call Mob Strong Debt Help on 1800 808 488 between Monday–Friday from 9:30am–4:30pm for a confidential chat.
Banning yourself from gambling can help
If you are having financial problems due to gambling, a good way to take control is to block, ban or bar yourself (also called self-exclusion) from places you know gambling is an issue for you.
What should I do if I have unpaid fines?
If you have an unpaid fine and are experiencing financial difficulty, a GambleAware financial counsellor can help you by setting up a payment plan or by potentially negotiating a fine reduction.
What if I owe money and can’t pay right away?
Debts are difficult to manage, especially when you are trying to reduce your gambling at the same time. Debts can come from any number of organisations, like banks, household utility providers, and even Centrelink.
It’s important that you try to arrange a payment plan as soon as possible with any creditors, or try to consolidate your debts. A GambleAware financial counsellor can support you with these discussions, help you reduce your gambling and give you a clear path towards clearing your debts.
You can also write to your creditors directly and request documents related to your debt or set up a payment plan. The Financial Rights Legal Centre offers template letters for a variety of situations including dealing with debt collection.
If you don’t pay your debts, your creditor will try and force you to pay them by issuing a Statement of Claim, which is the first step in the debt collection process. If you receive a Statement of Claim and don’t respond to it, the creditor can apply for judgment against you (an order of a Court or Tribunal requiring you to repay money).
If you owe the debt but can’t afford to pay it, you should speak to a financial counsellor as soon as possible. If you dispute the debt, you should consider seeking legal advice about your options.
I owe Centrelink money, what do I do?
Centrelink will start an action to recover overpayments by sending you a letter outlining what your debt is and when it needs to be paid by. This letter is a legal document and needs to be responded to as soon as possible in order to avoid further debt recovery processes.
You should contact a financial counsellor if you need assistance repaying your Centrelink debt. To help you understand why Centrelink has made this decision, you can also request your Centrelink documents online.
You have the right to appeal against a Centrelink decision, but before you do, it’s a good idea to get legal advice and check the time limits that may apply to the appeal process.
I can’t pay my debts. Should I go bankrupt?
Bankruptcy is a legal status you can apply for if you are unable to pay your debts. While it can release you from most debts, provide relief and allow you to make a fresh start, there are also some serious disadvantages.
A GambleAware financial counsellor can explain the advantages and disadvantages of bankruptcy to help you consider your options. To speak to a GambleAware financial counsellor, call us on 1800 858 858.
Gambling and the Bankruptcy Act
The Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth) has a gambling offence you should be aware of before deciding whether to go bankrupt. If you have been gambling for 2 years prior to filing for bankruptcy and if gambling is partly or solely the reason why you are unable to pay your debts, you risk prosecution and a fine or up to a year in prison.
You should also be aware it can be considered an offence for receiving credit which you knew you could not repay.
If you are not sure whether these offences would apply to you, you should seek legal advice before applying for bankruptcy.
If you have received a bankruptcy notice or creditors petition
If you have received a bankruptcy notice or creditors petition, you should speak to a GambleAware financial counsellor or call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007. If you choose to ignore these documents, a creditor could make you bankrupt without your consent.
If a creditor has made you bankrupt
If a creditor has made you bankrupt, you should seek immediate advice from the National Debt Helpline.