Study level

  • Vacation research experience scheme


Faculty of Business and Law

School of Law

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Catherine Brown
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Business & Law
Ms Nicola Howell
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Business & Law


In response to the economic and health disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many jurisdictions implemented measures to assist people suffering financial hardship. These included direct payments from government, but also financial hardship measures in credit, debt, utilities, housing and insolvency law, policy and practice. Of necessity, many of these measures were introduced with limited or very short consultation, and some have now ended or begun to be wound back.

On a smaller scale, financial hardship measures have been commonly introduced in response to disruptions caused by natural disasters in Australia. Again, these have taken the form of direct payments from government and financial hardship measures in credit, debt, utilities and housing law, policy and practice. For example, the Australian Banking Association regularly publishes the support that it can offer to businesses and households in the event of a natural disaster.

To date, there has been little assessment of the effectiveness of these types of measures in the short or long-term. The Australian Government has recently consulted on ‘The bankruptcy system and the impacts of coronavirus’ (Discussion Paper, February 2021), but has not yet published a response to this consultation. Responses to financial hardship by banks will be considered in the recently announced review of the Code of Banking Practice (see Review Consultation Note, July 2021), with the review due to be completed by the end of 2021.

This project will evaluate financial hardship responses to COVID and to natural disasters in Australia and other comparable jurisdictions to inform current and future law reform. It will identify measures that should be adopted on a more permanent basis to ensure that effective financial hardship measures can be quickly and easily implemented in the event of future large scale economic, health and social disruptions.

Research activities

Research activities during this project may include:

  • a literature review
  • participating in writing a scholarly paper
  • comparative analysis of laws from other jurisdictions.

This project is expected to run for 20 hours a week, for 6 weeks.


This project is a continuation and expansion of a project funded by the Consumer Policy and Regulation Research Program in 2020-2021. The research activities will be aimed at updating that work and a publication is expected.

This project is supported by the Australian Centre for Health Law Research.


For more information on how to apply, visit our Vacation Research Experience Scheme guide.