This website is for use by legal professionals (lawyers and law practices) only. If the information is used incorrectly, you could risk losing money or your legal rights. If you are a member of the public looking for free advice about your legal problems please visit legalaid.vic.gov.au, or contact our Legal Help advice line on 1300 792 387, Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6 pm. 

If you decide to use or rely on the information or make decisions based on the information in this website (which VLA does not recommend) VLA is not liable to you or any third party in any way for any loss, damage, costs or expenses you or they may suffer or incur as a result.

Services and info for clients about debt and prisoners

Services and info for clients about debt and prisoners.

Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC)

ASIC's Money Smart website for the general public has information about the hardship threshold. The site also has information about finding a financial counsellor.

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Fitzroy Law Handbook

Fitzroy Legal Service's law handbook has information about debts and bankruptcy.

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Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)

From 1 November, 2018, the authority handles complaints that were formerly handled by the Financial Ombudsman Service, Credit and Investments Ombudsman and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal. They work with consumers and small businesses to reach agreements with financial firms about how to resolve their complaints. They can make decisions that are binding on the financial firm. They can also award compensation for loss suffered because of an error or inappropriate conduct by the firm.
They deal with complaints about credit, finance and loans as well as superannuation, investments and insurance.

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Consumer Action Law Centre

This specialist community legal centre can assist the client with debt problems.

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Magistrates' Court

The court site has information about the procedures, costs and forms to use when someone is enforcing a civil debt.

See Magistrates' Court—Enforcement of a Civil Debt.

Australian Financial Security Authority

This site has information about the value of properties that cannot be seized to repay a debt.

See Australian Government—Australian Financial Security Authority—Indexed amounts(opens in a new window).

Financial First Aid

A site developed by Medication and Counselling Victoria. This site provides information for people who are experiencing financial difficulty. It has information about repossession of vehicles, unemployment and financial difficulties, credit card debt, mobile phone bill shock and debt collectors.

See Family mediation and counselling Victoria—Financial first aid(opens in a new window).

Good Shepherd loan scheme

This agency provides no interest loans for people on low incomes if they need money to by necessary whitegoods, furniture, health or dental expenses, education essentials (like textbooks) computers or electrical goods. It cannot be used for paying bills, holidays, rent or cash.

To be eligible, a person needs a pension card or health care card, to have lived for more than 3 months in their current home and to show some capacity to repay the loan.

See Good Shepherd—No interest loan scheme (NILS)(opens in a new window).

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC)

This Australian government agency is responsible for freedom of information, privacy and information policy. A person can make a complaint about the way their personal information is handled.

See OAIC—What can I complain about?(opens in a new window)

See also OAIC—Privacy (Credit Reporting) Code 2014 (version 1.2)(opens in a new window).

National Debt Helpline

This not-for-profit service helps people tackle their debt problems. The lines are staffed by professional financial counsellors. The website has information to support people with particular debt problems, such as: electricity, gas or water, phone or internet bills, housing or cars.

The helpline operates from 9.30 until 4.30 Monday to Friday.

See National Debt Helpline(opens in a new window).

Department of Finance

Discretionary compensation

The Commonwealth Government has the power to provide discretionary financial assistance in cases where they believe that there is a moral responsibility to provide assistance (rather than a legal responsibility).

One avenue of compensation is through the Compensation for Detriment caused by Defective Administration (CDDA Scheme). This scheme may provide compensation where a person has suffered detriment due to the defective actions or inaction by the Commonwealth Government.

Decisions about compensation under this scheme are made by the Minister responsible for the relevant non-Corporate Government agency that is alleged to have been defective. Agencies include: Centrelink, Medicare, Child Support, Federal Police, Australian Tax Office, Department of Health, Department of Education and Training, Department of Home Affairs.

See Department of Finance (Cth)—Scheme for Compensation for Detriment caused by Defective Administration (the CDDA Scheme)(opens in a new window) .

Corrections Victoria

This business unit of Department of Justice and Community Safety is responsible for setting the direction, management and operation of Victoria's corrections system. Corrections Victoria's website, Corrections, prisons and parole has information about the governance of prisons in Victoria.

See Corrections, Prisons & Parole(opens in a new window).

Deputy Commissioner's Instructions

The Deputy Commissioner's Instructions (DCIs) set out detailed guidelines for the management and operation of public prisons and prisoners in Victoria. Private prisons must follow a similar set of Operating Procedures, which, like the Deputy Commissioner's Instructions, put into practice the Standards and Commissioner's Requirements to ensure a consistent system across the entire Victorian Prison network.

See Deputy Commissioner's Instructions(opens in a new window).

Ombudsman Victoria

The ombudsman site has information to explain how prisoners can make a complaint about the prison system. Prisoners can call the Ombudsman directly. To do this the prisoner has to enter their ID, their PIN and then dial '*#06'.

See Victorian Ombudsman—Prisons(opens in a new window).

Prison law org

This site, originally created by the Mental Health Legal Service, has information to support prisoners and their families. The site has a series of fact sheets about going to prison, being searched, classification, visits, prison rules, discipline, medical treatment, drug and alcohol testing, freedom of information, complaints and prisoner rights.

See Prison law.org(opens in a new window).

The Law Handbook

Fitzroy Legal Service's handbook has a chapter to explain the laws that apply to prisoners in Victoria.

See Imprisonment, supervision and prisoner rights(opens in a new window).

Flat Out Inc.

Flat Out is a state-wide advocacy and support service for women who have had contact with the criminal justice and/or prison system in Victoria. They provide individualised support for women (with or without children) to address homelessness, drug and alcohol treatment and a range of other support and advocacy aimed at addressing the underlying causes of criminalisation. The content is undated.

See Flat Out(opens in a new window).

Australian Human Rights Commission

The commission has a fact sheet that has information about some of the human rights issues that prisoners face during and after they are in prison such as the loss of voting rights and discrimination on the basis of a criminal record.

See AHRC—Human Rights and Prisoners(opens in a new window).

Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO)

VACRO aims to help people who have been released from prison to ease the transition back into community life. To do this, they assist with reunification with family and work with offenders to establish a stable base that includes accommodation and employment.

See Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO)(opens in a new window).

See 'helpful resources' for a list of information sheets to support prisoners and their friends and families. There is information in:

Arabic | Chinese | Pasifika | Vietnamese | as well as English.

Updated