Cuts to have big impact

East Metropolitan MLC Amber-Jade Sanderson and financial counsellor Irena Higgs. Picture: Andrew Ritchie   d439949
East Metropolitan MLC Amber-Jade Sanderson and financial counsellor Irena Higgs. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d439949

Ms Higgs said The Salvation Army�s free independent financial counselling service was essential and funding cuts would mean it would have to end.

From September 30 the Salvation Army will lose $121,610 in State Government funding for financial counsellors in Morley and Balga who assist families in need.

Ms Higgs said if the Government invested more in financial counselling as a preventative measure, the dividend would be huge.

�The return on investment for government in terms of avoided costs � such as health or housing or breakdown of relationships � would be significant,� she said.

Salvation Army spokesman Warren Palmer said in the past year more than 1500 people were helped by financial counsellors from the Morley and Balga |services.

�This equates to more than 4000 people assisted in reality, with the whole family benefiting from the financial advice and advocacy,� he said.

Mr Palmer said funding cuts meant that instead of working intensively, their ability to assist families in need would be severely limited to emergency assistance.

�While this meets an immediate need, it does not remove vulnerabilities but actually exposes families to prolonged disadvantage and social depravities,� he said.

�Social depravities and an inability to manage financially has a direct impact with mental illness, depression, relationship breakdown, domestic violence and addictions, playing a significant part in the dysfunction of our community.�

Child Protection Minister Helen Morton said it was critical the department used funding to support its core business � services promoting the safety and wellbeing of at-risk children and families, with the aim to prevent children going into care.

�Currently, just 1 per cent of the people using the financial counselling services are Department for Child Protection and Family Services clients,� she said.

�Figures provided by the financial counselling services show each counsellor sees just 1.3 clients a day for significant interaction. In my view this is inefficient.�

Opposition leader Mark |McGowan said the cuts were a �heartless decision from a government that did not care�.

�This decision will cost the state more in the long run,� he said.

�Now is not the time to be cutting financial counsellors and abandoning West Australians who are doing it tough.�

Mr McGowan said with the State Government�s next round of above inflation increases to electricity and water coming into effect this week, more and more West Australians would be under financial pressure.