Work and development orders

People experiencing hardship can apply to resolve their SPER debt by doing relevant courses, attending counselling and treatment programs, or completing unpaid work with an approved hardship partner.

This can be done through a work and development order.

Hardship partners

A hardship partner is an approved community organisation or financial or health practitioner that provides services for people in hardship to resolve their SPER debt.

Different hardship partners can help in different ways. Some offer counselling and treatment programs, while others offer life-skills courses.

Hardship partners are located across the state, so whether or not they can help you will depend on their location and the services they offer.

Who can apply

You may be eligible for a work and development order if you can't pay your debt because of:

  • financial hardship
  • mental illness
  • domestic and family violence
  • homelessness
  • intellectual and cognitive disability
  • substance use disorder.

Our hardship partners can discuss the eligibility criteria and what evidence you need to provide.

Activities you can do

Your hardship partner will develop an activity or treatment plan for you and supervise the activities you do. Rates start at $30 per hour, and you can reduce your debt by up to $1,000 per month.

Educational, vocational and life-skill courses $50 per hour
Financial and other counselling $50 per hour
Medical, mental health and substance-use disorder treatments Rate set by hardship partner
Mentoring programs (for under 25s) Rate set by hardship partner
Unpaid work $30 per hour
Culturally-appropriate programs in rural and remote communities $50 per hour

Some debts, including compensation and restitution, can't be included in a work and development order. You need to pay these debts in full or apply for a payment plan, even if you have a work and development order.

How to apply

If you can’t pay your SPER debt and believe you’re eligible for a work and development order, phone us on 1300 365 635.

If you have ways to pay your debt, you will not be granted an order. Contact us to discuss other options to resolve your debt.


If your work and development order is approved, you must:

  • do the activities or treatment plan as advised by the hardship partner
  • notify your hardship partner if your address or contact details change.

If you don't complete all the requirements of your order, it may be cancelled and you'll have to pay the rest of your debt. This may also make it harder to get another order for debts in the future.

If your circumstances change and you can pay the debt, tell your hardship partner and contact us to pay or apply for a payment plan.

If you're injured while completing your order, let your hardship partner know and they will tell you your entitlements. You won't receive credit towards your SPER debt if you're unable to carry out the activities of your order.

More information

Read the work and development order fact sheet to learn more.