Debt crisis fears from financial counseller cuts

Finucare executive officer Kim Every and Mandurah MLA David Templeman discuss funding cuts.
Finucare executive officer Kim Every and Mandurah MLA David Templeman discuss funding cuts.

FINUCARE financial counsellors are under extreme pressure to help struggling local families and they don’t know how they are going cope after State Government funding cuts.

Executive officer Kim Every said funding cuts in the metropolitan areas would put more strain on the Peel regional service.

She said demand for counselling was huge. On one day last week, there were six calls from people facing bankruptcy.

Mandurah MLA David Templeman described the funding cuts as cruel.

“With cuts being made to all metropolitan services, people then look to the regional services for help,” he said.

“For many people in dire financial difficulty, this is their last hope.

“The local counsellors I have been talking to last week had received calls from people who are suicidal.

“This puts them under a lot of pressure and I don’t think the Barnett Government can see the link between their callous cost of living rises and cuts to services like this.”

Mr Templeman said sometimes people who were struggling financially just needed to know that there was help available.

“Once they know this they can start to feel less stressed and less suicidal,” he said.

“But if they can’t even talk to a financial counsellor about their options, that’s when despair sets in.

“This is a devastating blow for people who are genuinely trying to get their lives back on track.”

Mr Templeman said demand for financial services would only increase as unemployment increased on the back of the resources industry slow down

Child Protection Minister Helen Morton said WA’s population had increased by more than 1300 each week since 2007-08. To meet demand the department’s budget had increased by 82.4 per cent.

“It is critical that the department uses this funding to support its core business,” she said.

“Its focus must be services which primarily promote the safety and wellbeing of at risk children and families, with the aim to prevent children coming into care.

“The department has determined that funding for face to face financial counsellors will end for metropolitan non-government services on September 30 this year, with an extension of a further 12 months for regional services.

“However, the Financial Counsellors Association of Western Australia (FCAWA) helpline will expand and increase its focus on metropolitan clients.”

Ms Morton said the decision to not extend the financial counselling contracts for metropolitan services would save the government at least $6 million over four years.

A protest against the funding cuts to financial counselling services is planned outside Parliament House on Thursday from 9am.