Minister Defends Cuts to Financial Counsellors

STATE Government funding for financial counsellors will end for the majority of metropolitan non-government services on September 30, Child Protection Minister Helen Morton says.

Ms Morton said it was critical the department used its funding to support its core business – services that primarily promote the safety and wellbeing of at-risk children and families, with the aim to prevent children coming into care.

“The Government will continue to fund $881,000 for the sector to provide a single |metropolitan-wide model, which could comprise face-to- face counselling, a telephone helpline and web chat services,” she said.

“The department and the sector is working together to develop the model.”

Ms Morton said there were other services for people experiencing financial hardship, including seven Commonwealth-funded metropolitan financial counselling services for people on Centrelink income management.

She said there were also no- interest loans for families and individuals on low incomes, Centrelink income support for essential household goods and services, and the Hardship Utility Grant Scheme funding, which can be accessed by contacting the relevant utility.

East Metropolitan MLC Amber-Jade Sanderson said financial counselling services were vital for keeping people in their homes, off the public housing list and out of acute services.

“Financial stress is a major factor in family violence, abuse and suicide,” Ms Sanderson said. “There is a four-to-six week waiting list so these services are used.”

Ms Sanderson and Bas-sendean MLA Dave Kelly said the decrease in State Government funding was compounded by federal cuts last year.