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Settlement Guide: Will payday loans and the pandemic bring on a 'debt tsunami'?

Concerned woman with bills Source: Getty Images

Australia’s first recession in 29 years has financial counsellors busy taking calls from people who have never faced debt problems, and there are concerns debt amid the pandemic may provoke serious mental health concerns.

The National Debt Helpline’s financial counsellor Sarah Brown-Shaw has spoken to thousands of people in financial crisis before, but the economic hardship caused by COVID-19 is unlike anything she’d seen in previous years.

Many of the international students who would normally be working, prior to Australia’s first recession in nearly 30 years, are now asking for access to basic necessities such as food as they struggle to pay their tuition fee and rent.

Recent consumer data released by the Consumer Policy Research Centres shows that seven in 10 young Australians are now concerned about their financial wellbeing.

While desperate times call for desperate measures, senior solicitor Jen Lewis warns people to avoid pay-day loans at all cost.

Lewis often gets contacted by distressed callers whose bank accounts run out of money for basic living cost after loan repayments are directly debited from their income or Centrelink payment.

Generally, those loans will have really high interest and fees. You are paying back often many times more than the original loan.

Some of the payday loans over $2,000 are often secured on an asset such as a car. 

Click on the audio link inside the picture at the top of the page to listen to this podcast in Punjabi.


If you are under stress and need emotional support, contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636

or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

For free and confidential financial and legal advice, contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

For more information or Good Shepherd’s no interest, no-fee loans, visit its website or call 1300 121 130.

You can access your chosen service provider with the assistance of an interpreter by dialling the translating and interpreting service on 13 14 50.

Listen to SBS Punjabi Monday to Friday at 9 pm. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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