Last updated 31 March 2020
Information for individuals
This page contains information and resources for Bluestone customers who are worried about their finances as a result of COVID-19.
Accessing financial relief
We understand that the current situation is putting considerable financial pressure on many Australian families. If you have been impacted, there are a number of things you can do to ease the burden.
In these extraordinary times, the Australian state and federal governments are developing extraordinary measures to support families and businesses over the coming months. At the same time, many businesses are doing everything they can to protect their employees and customers.
Below are a number of resources you can use to understand the options available to you, and access financial relief when you need it.
Australian government measures
As of 31 March, the Australian Government has announced a number of economic measures to respond to the current outbreak, totalling more than $319 billion in stimulus and support.
Additional measures to address specific vulnerable populations continue to be announced regularly, but thus far, individuals and households have gained access to a wide range of initiatives, which include:
This payment entitles you to $1500 per fortnight for 6 months to keep you connected to your employer while they are experiencing a significant drop in turnover due to the pandemic. As long as your employer is eligible for this payment, you can receive this wage supplement regardless of whether you continue to work, or are stood down temporarily. This money is paid directly to employers, but must be passed on in full to you, even if your regular wage is below this threshold. You don’t have to do anything to receive this payment from your employer, but if you are eligible, your employer will notify you if they intend to claim this payment on your behalf.
More information about the JobKeeper Payment can be found in this fact sheet by the Treasury
Financial support for individuals who are unemployed and looking for work, or temporarily unable to work due to illness or injury. Maximum income limits for you and your partner apply for this payment, and the basic rate you are entitled to can range from $1 to $612 per fortnight, depending on income tests, and whether or not you have children. As long as you are eligible for this payment, you will also be entitled to an ongoing Coronavirus supplement of $550 per fortnight for the next 6 months.
You can find information on how to apply for JobSeeker Payments here.
Recipients of a wide range of government support payments and concession card holders will automatically receive a $750 deposit in their bank account on 31 March and 13 July. Eligibility criteria for each payment vary slightly, and can be found in this fact sheet by the Treasury. You don’t have to take additional action to receive this payment if you are eligible.
If you were made redundant, are currently unemployed, receive a government support payment like the JobSeeker Payment or Parenting Payment, or had your working hours or sole trader income reduced by at least 20%, you may be eligible to access some of your superannuation. From 20 April, you can apply for a tax-free release of up to $10,000 of your super before 1 July, and a further $10,000 between 1 July and 24 September. You can apply to participate in this scheme directly to the ATO via this link.
The government has temporarily halved minimum superannuation drawdown rates for account-based pensions and similar products for the 2020 and 2021 financial years. In line with the current low interest rate environment, the government also reduced social security deeming rates, which will be between 0.25% and 2.25%. You do not have to take any additional action to take advantage of these benefits as a retiree.
The full range of economic measures continues to grow and evolve. You can find the latest information via the links below.
Treasury support for individuals and households - Details about the stimulus payments for individuals and households to support growth, including income payments and temporary early release of superannuation.
Services Australia - Information about the payments and streamlined claims available for job seekers and students affected by coronavirus.
State and Territory support packages
In addition to support from the federal government, the states and territories have each announced a number of additional economic support measures. Details can be found via the links below:
How Bluestone can help
If you are experiencing financial difficulty, there are a number of ways we can help.
Accessing Redraw Facilities
If you usually repay more than the minimum repayment amount of your home loan, you may have funds built up in your redraw facility. You can use these funds to cover future repayments without impacting your interest rate or future repayment obligations.
A financial hardship arrangement is a temporary agreement between you and Bluestone in case you can no longer afford to repay your home loan. There are many reasons you may qualify for financial hardship, for example:
Bluestone has a long history of supporting customers experiencing financial hardship, and we have a range of options to support customers impacted by COVID-19. Some of these options may include:
Don’t worry, a hardship arrangement with Bluestone will not impact your credit score.
A Bluestone Hardship team member will be able to discuss the above options and your personal situation with you, and make an assessment based on information you have provided. Once a hardship arrangement is in place, we may conduct reviews during the assistance period.
We understand that financial hardship can be distressing for our customers, and want to assure you that we are here to assist you, free of judgement. If you are experiencing difficulty, we encourage you to reach out as soon as you can. The sooner you speak to us, the sooner we can help - and the more options may be available to you.
However, please note that our team is currently experiencing a very high volume of enquiries. If you are currently not directly impacted, we ask that you hold off on contacting us so we can better assist our customers in immediate need.
If you would like to discuss the options available to you, please press the button below to get in touch.
Understanding your situation
If you or your family have lost all or part of your income, make sure you have a realistic and accurate overview of your situation. As mentioned above, there are many potential avenues for support available to you, but which ones are suitable for your specific needs will depend on many factors.
Some questions to ask yourself include:
How to stay safe online
Spread of Misinformation and Fake News
Amid rapidly changing situations and continued lack of clear scientific data about the virus, fake news, conspiracy theories, rumours and misinformation have become very common - particularly on social media and WhatsApp.
Trusting inaccurate stories online can have serious consequences. It may exacerbate political, racial, and cultural divides. It can also risk your health and heighten your risk of infection, if you follow health advice that is ineffective or even dangerous.
The best way to protect yourself from inaccurate information and news stories is to only rely on official updates from trusted sources, such as Australian and international health bodies, and government sources.
Below are a number of resources that may help you:
WHO coronavirus mythbusters - Use this list of mythbusters about COVID-19 by WHO to prevent relying on protection measures that are proven to be ineffective.
How to read the news like a scientist - An article by the World Economic Forum with tips on how to assess the information you come across for accuracy and reliability
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has reported a significant rise in scams related to COVID-19. These scams include phishing emails, text messages and phone calls impersonating legitimate businesses and government bodies. There is also a rise of fake businesses claiming to sell products that can cure, treat, or prevent COVID-19.
If you believe you have been the victim of a phishing attack related to Bluestone, or you believe your Bluestone loan account may have been compromised, please contact us as soon as possible by calling 13BLUE(2583) or emailing email@example.com.
For more information about current scams, and tips on how to protect yourself, visit the links below:
ScamWatch COVID-19 alert - Information by the ACCC about current scams relating to the outbreak.
Stay smart online - Information and resources from the Australian government about protecting yourself online.
MoneySmart banking and credit scams - Information from ASIC's MoneySmart website about how to protect yourself from banking and credit scams.