City of Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts says the State Government’s decision to cut millions from financial crisis services will have a detrimental effect on vulnerable families and does not make sense.
At a meeting on Friday 5 June the Department of Child Protection and Family Support announced that all financial counselling services in the Perth metropolitan area would be cut from 1 October 2015.
“This funding cut comes at a time when more families than ever are struggling to make ends meet,” Mayor Roberts said.
“Many Western Australians need help negotiating payments for critical things including mortgage and rental costs, utilities such as water and heating, in addition to credit card and personal loan debts.
“Financial counsellors provide much needed help for no charge, across a wide range of legal and financial matters.”
Mayor Roberts said financial hardship could be experienced by anyone due to a change in personal circumstances.
“People can find themselves in financial difficulties for many reasons, including marriage and relationship breakdowns, illness, retirement, low income and job loss,” she said.
“Within the City of Wanneroo we have a high number of fly-in, fly-out workers and we are all aware that there have been a number of recent job losses in the mining industry—people are suddenly finding themselves in financial difficulties.
“The City’s financial counselling services provide invaluable support to help people review their financial situation and suggest ways in which to manage their finances.”
Mayor Roberts said the need for financial counselling services within the City was high given that monthly appointments are fully booked within the first week of each month.
“The State funding cuts will result in the loss of two full time City of Wanneroo financial counsellors, leaving approximately 60 clients without access to services each month,” she said.
“In all, more than 50 financial counsellors in Western Australia will no longer be funded to deliver this vital service to our community.
“I am extremely disappointed that the State Government has made this decision that will cost the government much more in the long term when people find themselves unemployed, with ill health, bankrupt or homeless.
“As a result the City of Wanneroo will once again need to step in to consider other options to continue this much needed service.”
As highlighted in a Cost Benefit Analysis by the University of Adelaide – for every $1 invested in financial counselling there is a direct saving to the government of $5.
“While not included in the cost benefit analysis, financial counselling services provide a range of personal, social and economic benefits which cannot be measured by direct monetary values but are significant nonetheless,” Mayor Roberts said.
The Salvation Army report ‘I wish I had known sooner’ also clearly shows the positive impact financial counselling services have in the lives of Western Australians.