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Australian Financial Security Authority AFSA)

The Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) is a federal agency responsible for handling bankruptcy and the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR). It was created in 1999 under the Bankruptcy Act 1966.

What is the Australian Financial Security Authority?

This agency, which is within the Attorney-General’s portfolio, helps people in extreme financial distress. Under the Act, it has the roles of Inspector-General in Bankruptcy, Official Receiver, and Official Trustee in Bankruptcy. This means the AFSA provides services in bankruptcy, insolvency and trustee regulation. Its functions include to:

  • act as trustee for personal insolvency cases;
  • act as trustee in court orders, particularly in relation to proceeds of crime;
  • act as special trustee for government;
  • provide information on dealing with unmanageable debt;
  • secure personal insolvency records;
  • regulate personal insolvency practitioners;
  • investigate bankruptcy and PPSR offences.

Unmanageable debt

When a person is unable to pay their debts, and has been unable to reach an arrangement with their credit or service provider, the AFSA can offer advice on formal insolvency options and help facilitate them. These include filing for bankruptcy, forming debt agreements, forming personal insolvency agreements, or applying for temporary debt protection.


Bankruptcy is a legal declaration a person cannot pay their debts. It can be voluntary or occur via a sequestration order made by a court on application by a creditor. It normally lasts for 3 years and 1 day. AFSA appoints a trustee to manage the bankruptcy, whose tasks include notifying creditors of the bankruptcy and selling assets to help pay the debts.

Debt agreements

A debt agreement, also known as a Part IX(9), is a legally binding deal between a person and their creditors. It can be an alternative for a person to settle debts without becoming bankrupt. It can provide relief for the person, and creditors can receive more money than they would have had the person become bankrupt.

Personal insolvency agreements

A personal insolvency agreement, also known as a Part X(10), is a legally binding deal between a person and their creditors. The agreement involves the appointment of a trustee to handle the persons property and deal with creditors, and an offer to pay all or some of the debts by instalments or a lump sum.

Temporary debt protection

A person can apply to AFSA for temporary debt protection, which provides a 21-day protection period against unsecured creditors taking action to recover money owed by the person. This allows the person time to seek financial advice, negotiate a payment plan with creditors or consider formal insolvency options.

What is the Personal Properties Securities Register?

This register is a national online noticeboard of security interests, which are debts or other obligations secured by personal property. A person can register a security interest they have over property such as cars, company assets and intellectual property but not over land or fixtures. The register can be searched by a member of the public when they are seeking to, for instance, buy property or lend money to someone. Searches can be made on used vehicles, organisations, individuals, boats, planes, and intellectual property.

A search costs $2 and the searcher receives a certificate stating the result of the search. If a PPSR search has already been done on the property, the result can be obtained for free, but the result will be from when the original search was done, not the current time.

The PPSR was created in 2012 under the Personal Property Securities Act 2009. The PPSR is administered by the Registrar of Personal Property Securities. The registrar is responsible for ensuring the register is managed responsibly, made available and contains reliable information. Day-to-day operations are conducted by the AFSA Service Centre.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Sally Crosswell

This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

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