Armadale: new HUGS service launched to help those struggling with bills

Standing L to R - Hon.Simone McGurk & Ian Carter (CEO Anglicare WA) Sitting - Celia Dufall (HUGS Principal Officer).
Standing L to R - Hon.Simone McGurk & Ian Carter (CEO Anglicare WA) Sitting - Celia Dufall (HUGS Principal Officer).

A NEW service for residents experiencing financial hardship was officially opened in Armadale on Wednesday.

Community Services minister Simone McGurk, Armadale mayor Henry Zelones, Armadale MLA Tony Buti and other dignitaries were at the launch of the Hardship Utility Grant Scheme (HUGS) Service Centre, which is run by the Financial Counselling Network (FCN) and offers over-the-phone support for those having trouble paying their bills.

The FCN is a partnership of 15 organisations, including Anglicare WA and UnitingCare West, aiming to reduce the impact that financial hardship can have on locals.

Anglicare WA chief executive Ian Carter said a team of 20 financial support workers would help those referred for HUGS assistance and he expected the centre would receive more than 23,000 calls a year.

“People have complex reasons for falling into financial hardship, so taking a holistic, people-centred approach to dealing with their issues will better connect them with other services to help them move towards financial stability,” he said.

“As our economy continues to tighten and the cost of essential utilities increases, we expect more people to experience utility stress.

“This service is here for those people, to help them work through and hopefully resolve their issues.”

The centre is based at Armadale Lotteries House and operates from 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday.