Payment assistance for bills
Under their contract with energy and water retailers, customers are expected to pay their energy and water bills in full and on time.
If you can’t pay a bill, talk to your retailer as soon as possible. Getting help early can stop your debt growing and keep your supply connected.
If necessary, you can give a friend or community worker permission to talk to the retailer for you.
Dealing with payment difficulty
Contact with the retailer
If you’re having trouble paying an electricity or gas bill, contact your retailer immediately to see how they can help you avoid disconnection.
Similarly, contact your water retailer if you can’t pay your water bill. While they can’t disconnect your water, they can severely restrict your water flow.
If you don’t contact them until after you’ve been disconnected or restricted, you might have to pay a fee, a security deposit and the amount owing before they’ll reconnect you.
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Retailers are required to offer payment plans to customers who need time to pay their bill. Payment plans are made up of agreed instalment amounts.
If you and the retailer can’t agree about how much you can afford to pay, contact us.
Programs for financial difficulty
All retailers need to have a policy to help customers in financial difficulty. Most retailers have special hardship programs that help customers stay connected and stay on top of their bills.
Each retailer has its own eligibility criteria for their programs. Contact your retailer to see if you’re eligible.
A financial counsellor can help you manage a short-term financial crisis and stay in control of your finances. They can help by:
- budgeting and organising your finances
- figuring out if you’re eligible for government assistance
- explaining debt recovery, bankruptcy and other options
- putting you in touch with other services, such as legal aid and personal counselling.
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Rebates and concessions
You may be eligible for rebates and concessions to reduce your bill each month.
Read our article on rebates and concessions.
Most retailers offer customers different ways to pay their bill (e.g. BPAY, direct debit, Centrepay, credit card, in person at the post office). However, they might charge you a fee for paying a certain way. Check with your retailer.
All energy and some water retailers offer Centrepay to Centrelink customers. Centrelink deducts an amount from your pension or benefit each fortnight (at least $10) and transfers it to your energy or water account.
You still receive a bill, but only for any amount you still owe at the end of the quarter. Contact Centrelink or your retailer to find out more.
Shortened collection cycle
If your electricity or gas retailer sends you reminder notices or disconnection warnings for not paying 2 bills in a row, they might decide to put you on a ‘shortened collection cycle’.
This means you may not get reminder notices in future about any unpaid bills—just get a disconnection notice without a reminder.
If you don’t pay that bill by the date on the disconnection notice, the retailer might disconnect you.
They must tell you if they’re going to put you on a shortened collection cycle.
You can return to a regular collection cycle by paying 3 bills in a row by the due date.