Service cut ‘hurts most vulnerable’

BALGA Salvation Army has been forced to end all financial counselling services following State Government cuts to the sector earlier this year.

Salvation Army official spokesman Warren Palmer said the service had a consistent waiting list of up to four weeks.

“From a service delivery perspective and meeting the need out there in the community, we are absolutely concerned that people won’t have the same level of access to financial counselling as they did previously,” Mr Palmer said.

The Government cut all funding to financial counselling services in June before re-instating a portion of funding in September.

Mr Palmer said he was concerned for key lower socio-economic areas such as Balga and Mirrabooka.

“What are the options for people now? Where do they go?” he said.

“There may be services available in Joondalup and East Perth and that becomes out of reach for people here.”

According to Mr Palmer, before the funding cuts Salvation Army financial counsellors helped 1500 people in Balga. “With less financial counsellors you either fall into an area which is not covered or you have to go to an area which is far away and you get put on to a waiting list which is far more excessive than what it used to be,” Mr Palmer said.

He said the lack of financial counselling would put people in a continuous cycle of emergency relief without long-term help.

“If they don’t have access to financial counsellors than what we’re doing is sustaining people in crisis management, because were not helping them to get out of that emergency situation,” he said.

“They come back, we give them help again, they come back and nothing ever changes.

“Financial counselling is an opportunity to try to escape from crisis management,” Mr Palmer said.

“With fewer services, we are condemning people to a longer period of crises management.”

See opinion, page 8.