Free financial counselling services are available to help small business owners who need information about managing debt or are in financial distress.

Financial challenges are often cited as the biggest cause of anxiety for small business owners. An Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources report Small Business Owners and Mental Health 2020 found that:

“Financial issues are the main stressors for SBOs [Small Business Owners]. Some industries, such as wholesale trade and accommodation and food services are more prone to feeling financial stress. Financial stressors are also likely to be felt at different points in the business cycle, particularly at start-up and pre profit or when the business is established but stressed.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional impacts for some business owners, some of the main sources of financial stress are ongoing factors such as securing or maintaining affordable finance, receiving payments on time, maintaining cashflow and ensuring the ongoing profitability or survival of the business.

What a financial counsellor can assist with

Small Business Financial Counsellors are qualified professionals who assist with independent information, advice, support and referral. Their role is to assist small business owners with options and information when in financial difficulty. Some of the assistance offered includes:

Some of the areas in which a small business financial counsellor may be able to assist include:

  • speaking to creditors such as banks or finance companies, on your behalf about payment arrangements;
  • providing bankruptcy and debt agreement information
  • facilitating access to dispute resolution service
  • providing information about the insolvency process for companies
  • helping you to understand and organise business and financial records
  • developing budgets and money plans for an individual or a high-level cash flow for a business
  • providing information about understanding your rights and accessing legal help
  • providing information about grants and concession frameworks
  • developing strategies to manage short term and long term financial difficulties
  • explaining the relationship between business and personal assets and liabilities and the implications of this in relation to debts.

Small Business Financial Counsellors typically do not offer legal advice, corporate insolvency advice, investment advice, complex business advice or assistance with interpersonal disputes between business parties.

Free financial counselling resources

National financial counselling services

Small Business Debt Helpline

The Small Business Debt Helpline was established by Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) in 2020 with funding from the Australian Government. It was originally established as the Small Business Bushfire Financial Counselling Support Line.

The Small Business Debt Helpline is designed to assist with financial counselling for small businesses and sole traders in financial distress.

Tel: 1800 413 828

National Debt Helpline

The National Debt Helpline assists individuals in financial distress with free, independent and confidential advice from professional financial counsellors.

Tel: 1800 007 007

WA small business financial counselling

The State Government has funded the following providers to help small businesses. Select the provider closest to you or speak to one of the SBDC’s Small Business advisers on 133 140 for a referral.

City of Cockburn

Tel: 9411 3444

Gosnells Community Legal Centre

Tel: 9398 1455

Money Mentors (Byford)

Tel: 9581 1281

Rural financial counselling

Rural West

Rural West offers free, mobile and independent support to regional small businesses and primary production enterprises.

Tel: 1800 612 004

Small business taxation and banking assistance

Curtin Tax clinic

The Curtin Tax Clinic is a student-run clinic. Individuals can receive taxation advice from Curtin taxation students under the supervision of experienced tax practitioners.

Tel: 9266 2575

ECU Tax Clinic

The ECU Tax Clinic is a student-run clinic. Individuals can receive taxation advice from ECU taxation students under the supervision of experienced tax practitioners.

Tel: 6304 6190

Australian Taxation Office

The ATO has a range of options to support individuals including business owners in areas such as developing payment plans if you are having trouble paying your taxes on time.

Tel: 13 72 26

Australian banks

Most Australian banks have dedicated teams who can help you in times of financial hardship. The Australian Banking Association provides a list of the hardship team contact details for most banks in Australia. They have also developed a Financial Assistance Hub with information on ways to navigate periods of financial difficulty and forms of support available from your bank.

More information

For advice on managing the finances of your small business, get in touch with our free business advisory service or access our range of free financial management tools.

You might also like to read more about managing stress and anxiety when you run a business.

Legal and risk
31 July 2023