Counsellor Cutbacks to Harm Vulnerable Families

Gaurav Chawla, director of community development at Brockman House, with Bassendean MLA   Dave Kelly.        d432568
Gaurav Chawla, director of community development at Brockman House, with Bassendean MLA Dave Kelly.        d432568

HUNDREDS of families struggling financially around Lockridge and Morley will lose support after more than $243,000 in State Government funding was cut from local services.

Blue Sky Community Group and the Salvation Army Morley Corps will each lose $121,610 from September 30 in State Government funding for financial counsellors assisting families in need.

Blue Sky chief executive Neville Willcock said the funding cut would mean the loss of a full-time counsellor, which would result in more than 420 people missing out on help with their debt.

Mr Willcock said the counsellor would be replaced by a basic existing telephone counselling system that already could not cope and was beneficial for clients paying straightforward bills, but not assisting with complex debt.

“In the course of their working with people, counsellors identify many other issues and are able to refer people to many other support services such as those dealing with depression or drug and alcohol abuse in the family,” he said.

“At the very worst, some people will lose everything – and families have to eat.

“People will be left to themselves to work through their financial problems.”

Bassendean MLA Dave Kelly said the funding cuts were heartless and would lead to more bankruptcies and family break-ups.

“The State Government has put household bills up enormously and now is taking away a vital service when people need it most,” he said.

“Demand for these services will only increase as unemployment increases on the back of the resources industry slowing down.”

East Metropolitan MLC Amber-Jade Sanderson said the impact within Morley could be “enormous” as more people lost fly-in/fly-out jobs and families struggled to keep up with the cost of living.

“I met with the Salvation Army financial counsellors in Morley and they have one person servicing the area, helping about 400 families a year,” she said. “They also run two counsellors at Balga and between the three of them they help 1600 families a year.”