��Cruel cut� for Forrestfield financial counselling

Mark McGowan, Duncan Edgar, FIRS deputy chairman Mark Gray and East Metro MLC Samantha Rowe.
Mark McGowan, Duncan Edgar, FIRS deputy chairman Mark Gray and East Metro MLC Samantha Rowe.

FORRESTFIELD staff at a financial counselling service have been unable to manage their workloads since the demand for services has outweighed staffing levels.

Opposition leader Mark McGowan said the service was inundated with calls for help from people struggling with utility bills, rent or who had simply fallen on hard times.

“It’s a cruel cut that will impact on the people who least can afford it,” Mr |McGowan said.

Midland and Forrestfield services are just two of many across the state that will no longer be funded from September 30.

Mr McGowan said increases to household bills had driven many West Australians to breaking point and the Government was now taking away a service that could help them get their lives back on track.

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

“This can’t wait until the next election… the decision must be reversed now.”

East Metropolitan MLC Samantha Rowe said vulnerable people were struggling to balance their household budgets and cope with massive increases in living costs.

“There are many people in the Forrestfield area who rely on this advice and assistance when they’ve fallen into financial trouble. These organisations are taking record numbers of clients,” she said.

The sole employee left at the Forrestfield office, Duncan Edgar, said most of his clients were from the mining industry.

Mr McGowan said he was unable to say at this stage if a Labor government would continue the funding after the 2017 state election.

Mental Health and Disability Services Minister Helen Morton said the increase in WA’s population meant the demand for services had risen by 82.4 per cent, which represented $23.7 million on the previous financial year.

“We have to focus on core services and direct funding to promote the safety and wellbeing of at-risk children and families, with the aim to prevent children coming into care,” she said.

“Regional financial services will continue for another 12 months.”

Mrs Morton said the Financial Counsellors Association of WA would extend and increase its focus on metropolitan clients.

See page 2