National Hardship Register created to help those in serious debt

The new National Hardship Register has been created to help those struggling to pay off debt.

If you’re one of the many Australians who has trouble repaying your debts, then you’ll be glad to know that you may qualify to be listed on a new national register that will get the debt collectors off your case.

Debt collectors and financial advisors have created the National Hardship Register to help those who cannot repay their debts.

Debt collectors will no longer call on people listed on the register, and these same people may even have their debts waived after three years of being listed.

Consumers with grim financial circumstances who cannot pay off their debts can be included on the register after a face-to-face meeting with, and assessment by, a financial advisor.

Only unsecured debts – phone and utilities bills, and credit card debts – may be waived after being listed on the register for three years. Secured debts, such as mortgages and car loans, will not be renounced. 

Once a consumer is listed on the register, debt collectors will stop chasing outstanding payments.

The register, although available to anyone struggling to repay serious debt, is primarily a boon for people on low incomes, pensions, disability support and with serious mental health or physical conditions who are having real trouble repaying their debts.

Chief Executive Officer of Financial Counselling Australia, Fiona Guthrie, says the register is a much better alternative for those struggling to pay their debts than entering into voluntary bankruptcy or unrealistic repayment schemes.

Consumers are advised to speak with a financial advisor or visit the National Hardship Register to find out if they qualify.

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    COMMENTS

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    BrianP
    24th Feb 2016
    11:06am
    This is a small part of a much bigger problem. What about seniors trapped in a mortgage with low incomes or old and disabled on low or no income?

    What about low income victims of banks who have lost their homes? Also low income people of any age stuck in the rent trap?

    What we really need is a dedicated task force set up to include government, social services and people with experience of low income struggles to look at improving problems caused by the ever widening gap between rich and poor. And give this task force the power to change and influence government policy. Time to stop our way of life going down the slippery slope.
    Mygasheater
    24th Feb 2016
    11:56am
    Has anyone informed poor Clive Palmer of the register? The poor man has had his private jet sold.
    Anonymous
    24th Feb 2016
    5:53pm
    I think YOU need help, gasman. He is ANYTHING but poor.
    roy
    24th Feb 2016
    8:16pm
    Vote independent.
    jackie
    24th Feb 2016
    12:09pm
    People need to stop living beyond their means and learn to go without instead of wanting it all now.
    roy
    24th Feb 2016
    8:19pm
    No, I want to keep up with the Jones at whatever cost.
    Anonymous
    24th Feb 2016
    11:23pm
    Good idea. Extend yourself to or beyond the limit if necessary. It is very important to keep up appearances.
    Sundays
    24th Feb 2016
    12:35pm
    Unfortunately, there is little acknowledgement that debt is often caused by mental illness eg gambling, drug, alcohol and shopping addictions. While the register is a good idea, the underlying problems also need treatment.
    Yer man
    24th Feb 2016
    2:48pm
    Got a text message from debt collectors asking me to contact them urgently . They sent me a reference number and a contact number. When I phoned them I gave them the ref. number. The guy at the other end asked me for my full name and date of birth . I asked him to tell me who I was. Turns out it was not my name and unfortunately not my date of birth. May have been a new mobile number that I had got, which may have been recycled. So beware!. Don't give them any info. Ask them what they know .

    24th Feb 2016
    4:15pm
    If you owe the money pay the bloody debt otherwise you are a scumbag
    Yer man
    24th Feb 2016
    5:49pm
    Robbo why don't you read the passage again . I was warning unsuspecting folk who get an unsolicited text from a debt collecting agency as to what to do. So if I am still a scumbag you must be a solAR SOUL.
    In simple language that you might understand IT WAS NOT ME WHO WAS IN DEBT.THEY HAD GOT THE WRONG PERSON! "
    Anonymous
    24th Feb 2016
    11:24pm
    Yeah, right. That's yer story.
    Yer man
    25th Feb 2016
    2:36pm
    Now now Fast Eddie . Behave yerself or I'll send an Irish setter to bite yer bum which, like some of your comments, will be full of c--p .Anyhow mate ,would I tell you a lie ???
    Katz
    25th Feb 2016
    6:11am
    Everyone is so quick with their judgements!!!! I hope for your sakes you never find yourselves needing assistance.
    I'm sure that many others, like myself, have no other options.
    I was in a high paying job, paid my credit card balance in full every month, owned my own home etc
    Without warning I was struck down with a debilitating health condition that has destroyed my quality of life. My health will continue to deteriorate until modern medicine finds a way of stopping it.
    I didn't seek financial assistance because I hoped I would get better, go back to work and continue enjoying life as I had before. In the last six years I have used all of my savings until I had no other option but to pay bills and buy food with my credit card, again believing that one day I could return to work and pay them off.
    Even though three specialists have provided our wonderful government with detailed reports, the government has ignored them and decided I can work 0 - 7 hours per week and therefore do not qualify for a disability pension. I get $250 a week, that doesn't even cover rent let alone food and bills. I would love nothing more than to have my health back and return to work!!!

    I refuse to go bankrupt because I do believe in paying my debts. To get the creditors off of my back for up to three years would be a blessing, I would also try my hardest to find a way to make payments in that time.
    I have lost my home, sold most of my possessions to survive, used all of my savings, maxed out my credit card but most of all I have lost my pride and dignity!! All of your narrow minded judgemental opinions make me feel even worse. Yes there are bludgers out there but there are also people with genuine circumstances that have forced them into this position. I have never blushed in my life!
    So before you judge anyone at all, go and walk a mile in their shoes, learn about what goes on in the world before you think everyone should be perfect like you.
    margie
    25th Feb 2016
    11:27am
    Of course there are some situations not the fault of the debtor (illness, job loss etc) but what about those that deliberately look for any means to avoid a debt? I had a bathroom renovation which was a shoddy piece of work with the workman refusing to fix the faults. Had been paying as he went along and each time I commented on work that didn't look right he said it would be fixed, long story short, I realised I was being taken for a ride and took him to VCAT where he was ordered to pay back the money I had paid, well you guessed it he instantly went on the dole and while waiting on the court case he went on a cruise, spending like a drunken sailor. I was forced to dip into my super fund to have the repairs done. This bloke works cash in hand now with a lawn mowing business and also collects Centrelink. I have contacted Centrelink to no avail. Seems as though the victim pays and everyone rushes to make it easy for the 'sods' who just go on with their lives with no repurcussions at all.
    Katz
    25th Feb 2016
    4:05pm
    Your story Margie is one of those that if Centrelink continues to ignore your information you can go to your ombudsman and make a complaint against Centrelink.
    I would suggest you get a friend to hire him to mow their lawn, have camera set up showing him doing the job and then accepting the money, ensuring that the camera clearly records the amount of money given. Hard evidence can not be ignored, especially if presented to the Ombudsman.
    I really can understand your anger and frustration.
    To reassure you on a situation like yours, people like him would not qualify to go on the NHR.
    Katz
    25th Feb 2016
    4:08pm
    The article above is very generalised, I have read the process and eligibility requirements, it only applies, as said in the article to people with unsecured debts such as credit cards etc. Not all collection agencies have agreed to support the NHR so depending who the debtor uses for collections people may still not get assistance from the NHR. Applicants also have to meet a set criteria, they can only be referred by a not for profit financial advisor, investigations will be made as to the sum of their assets, the NHR only applies to people who have very few personal belongings eg they have nothing to sell to pay their debt. They will also be monitored in the following three years for any changes in their income or assets. If their situation improves in any way they will be removed from the register and forced to pay their debts.