Several lenders have confirmed that they are offering bushfire disaster relief to WA customers impacted by the ongoing bushfires in Perth Hills and surrounding areas. According to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES), parts of WA are still at “high” or “very high” fire risk.
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), National Australia Bank (NAB) and Westpac have all confirmed that they are offering relief packages.
Westpac has also confirmed that St.George Bank will also offer disaster relief packages to its WA customers.
Additionally, CBA, Westpac, St.George and ANZ have reminded WA insurance customers that they may be “eligible to receive access to emergency funds and temporary accommodation”.
- Pausing payments for up to three months on home loans, credit cards, personal loans and some business loans (we may still charge you interest during that period)
- Temporary interest rate reductions on lending for customers experiencing extreme financial distress
- Waiving fees for restructuring business loans
- Waiving fees for accessing term deposits early
ANZ’s general manager WA, Kathleen Jahour, said: “These fires have already destroyed dozens of homes and safety remains the number one priority for those in the path of these fires, including the brave firefighters who put so much on the line to protect us.
“At the appropriate time, when people shift their focus to recovering and rebuilding, we hope these relief measures help our customers as they deal with this devastating experience.”
ANZ customers affected by bushfires in a disaster-declared area are encouraged to visit their local branch if they are able, or to contact their relationship manager to discuss the impact on their business or personal circumstances.
CBA has said that it is providing Emergency Assistance for customers and businesses in Perth’s North-East and surrounding areas affected by bushfires.
As part of its Emergency Assistance, the bank has said it can discuss a range of options to help impacted customers manage their finances at this time, including:
- Customised payment arrangements for home loan, credit card or personal loans;
- Waiving fees and charges;
- Temporary overdrafts, additional loans or emergency credit limit increases (subject to credit approval);
- Waiving fees and notice periods for early access to term deposits;
- Expediting home and contents insurance claims for CommInsure customers; and
- Other individual support options.
In addition, the Commonwealth Bank Group, including Bankwest, will donate $50,000 to the Lord Mayor’s Distress Relief Fund to help support local communities affected by the bushfires
CBA’s retail banking services group executive, Angus Sullivan, said: “Our thoughts are with everyone impacted, and we thank the emergency services who are working tirelessly to protect the Perth community.”
NAB has also offered to provide financial relief, including:
- Suspending home and personal loan repayments and waiving application fees and charges;
- Waiving fees and charges for withdrawing term deposits early;
- Supporting business banking customers to restructure existing bank facilities;
- Providing credit card relief; and
- Providing access to complimentary, professional and confidential counselling.
NAB state business bank executive WA, Jeff Pontifex, said it has been a difficult time for the communities in Gidgegannup and the Perth Hills.
“We know this has impacted a lot of people – we are here to help and the number one priority is to stay safe,” Mr Pontifex said.
“We are here to support all NAB customers, colleagues and the wider community. Anyone who needs assistance or advice can contact us so we can discuss their circumstances and work out the best way to help.”
Westpac’s Disaster Relief Package has announced a range of options for affected customers, including:
- Home loan customers may apply to defer repayments for up to three months;
- Credit card customers may request an emergency credit limit increase and can apply to defer repayments for up to 90 days;
- Business customers may request loan restructuring with no fees incurred;
- Customers wishing to purchase replacement goods may apply for a personal loan at a discounted interest rate with no establishment fee; and
- Waived interest rate adjustments for customers wishing to withdraw term deposits.
Allan Maitland, Westpac’s head of retail WA, said the package will ensure immediate access to financial support for those who need it.
“We know that bushfires can have a significant emotional and financial toll on families and communities,” Mr Maitland said.
“We want impacted customers to know help is available if they require financial assistance during this challenging time, including home loan repayment deferrals and emergency credit card support.
“We urge any impacted customers to contact our Westpac Assist team as soon as possible to discuss their needs,” he added.
Similarly, some of St.George's general disaster relief package include:
- Deferred repayments for up to three months;
- Defer repayments on credit cards for up to 90 days;
- Customers wishing to purchase replacement goods may apply for a personal loan at a discounted interest rate with no establishment fee;
- Customers experiencing severe hardship may also be offered a halt on all interest accrual on unsecured credit products for a period of up to three months;
- Affected businesses with existing loans can request loan restructuring without incurring the usual bank establishment fees;
- Interest rate adjustment waivers for affected customers wishing to withdraw term deposits.
Customers who need support are being urged to visit their bank’s branches, contact its helplines or visit the disaster relief package page of their lender's website.
The move comes after several lenders offered South Australian customers affected by the bushfires in Lucindale on 11 January 2021 similar assistance.
[Related: Loan repayment deferrals phasing out]