Cuts to the coronavirus supplement and 'buy now, pay later' schemes mean financial support workers are bracing themselves for an influx in people seeking help in the coming months.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a financial blow to many in the community, and financial services have already seen the impacts.
Cathy Wood, from Anglicare Victoria's new financial wellness service, said utility bills had increased because people had been home more, international students who had lost work had exhausted their savings, and hardship freezes on mortgages and other debts were coming to an end but people had not yet been able to get back on top.
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Ms Wood said there were people seeking help who had never been in financial hardship before, and many were not financially literate because they never had to be.
Bendigo Family and Financial Services general manager Jenny Elvey said higher utility costs were an issue her agency had seen people presenting with, as well as problems meeting the cost of rent, and people presenting with more complex issues.
"That hopelessness, that feeling is still in the air," Ms Elvey said.
Anglicare Victoria's community services manager for the region, Tracey Grinter, said the financial wellness program had already received close to 140 references, but she expected that to increase come January when the federal government's coronavirus supplement for those receiving welfare payments was due to drop further, from $250 to $150 a fortnight.
Ms Grinter said Christmas and back to school costs were also expected to drive more people into financial hardship.
Of particular concern to Ms Wood and Ms Elvey are 'buy now, pay later' schemes over the Christmas period.
Ms Elvey said she expected to see the fallout from people using these to buy gifts over Christmas in January and February, when their repayments were due.
People who find themselves facing financial difficulties are urged to seek help, and seek it early.
Ms Grinter said the earlier someone sought assistance, the more options they had available to them and the easier it was to address their problems - advice echoed by Ms Elvey.
Ms Wood said that while people could feel ashamed at having to seek help, support was confidential and no one was judging them.
"Accept the help, because that's what it's there for," she said.
And with the festive period approaching, Ms Elvey urges people to focus on what is really important: friends and family.
"A gift of friendship is more important than a gift of dollars," Ms Elvey said.
To contact Anglicare Victoria's financial wellness workers, call 1800 244 323 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Bendigo Family and Financial Services can be reached on 5441 5277. The National Debt Helpline is available on 1800 007 007.