A bad year for bankruptcies

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It was a tough financial year for Australia’s debtors, with the number of personal insolvencies around the country growing over 2017-18 to reach the highest figure in nearly a decade.

In figures released by the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA), the number of personal insolvencies across the country rose for the third consecutive year, increasing by 5.6% in 2017–18 compared to 2016–17.

The 31,859 personal insolvencies in 2017–18 was found to be the largest annual number of personal insolvencies since the record of 36,539 set in 2009–10.

Personal insolvencies state by state

Looking at changing personal insolvency numbers state by state:

  • Northern Territory: +14.3% (record annual level)
  • Western Australia: +12.9% (record annual level)
  • Tasmania: +10.2%
  • New South Wales: +7.1%
  • South Australia: +5.1%
  • Queensland: +2.6%
  • ACT: no change
  • Victoria: -1.5%

Personal insolvencies in 2017-18

State/territory Bankruptcies Debt agreements Personal insolvency agreements Total personal insolvency activity
NSW 4604 4464 50 9118
ACT 186 220 2 408
VIC 3066 2622 34 5722
QLD 5013 4160 62 9235
SA 1138 765 21 1924
NT 158 191 3 352
WA 2064 1918 35 4020
TAS 464 332 3 799
Other* 118 162 1 281
TOTAL 16,811 14,834 214 31,859

Source: AFSA

*State/territory “Other” includes records where no address is stated or where the stated address is not in the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS).

Comparing personal insolvencies by type

AFSA found that in 2017-18:

  • Bankruptcies increased by 3.0%
  • Debt agreements increased by 9.1%
  • Personal insolvency agreements decreased by 12.3%.


The annual rise in bankruptcies from 16,320 in 2016-17 to 16,811 in 2017-18 was found to be the largest since 2008–09 (when there were 27,520 bankruptcies), with the only other rise of 0.2% occurring in 2015–16.

Bankruptcies reached an annual record high of 158 in Northern Territory, following an increase of 31.7%.

Debt agreements

New debt agreements increased for the seventh consecutive year in 2017-18, growing by 14,834 – the highest annual number on record.

Debt agreements increased in 2017–18 compared to 2016–17 in all states and territories, with all states and territories except Tasmania reaching record annual highs. There were 332 debt agreements in Tasmania in 2017–18, just two less than the record level of 334 set in 2012–13.

Personal insolvency agreements

There were only 214 new personal insolvency agreements in 2017–18, down from 244 in 2016–17. Personal insolvency agreements fell to a record annual low in Victoria, decreasing by 33% to just 34.


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