Budget cuts hit valuable service

Midlas (Midland Information Debt & Legal Advice Service) provides an information and referral service but lost funding for 3.5 staff in the State Budget.

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

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said it was a cruel cut that would affect people who could least afford it.

Mr McGowan said increases in household bills had driven many West Australians to breaking point.

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

East Metropolitan MLC Alanna Clohesy said the Midland service saw more than 1000 people last year for financial counselling.

�This cut means, services such as Midlas will no longer have a counsellor on site to assist people struggling with bills or other financial problems to get their lives back on track,� Ms Clohesy said.

�There are many people across the East Metropolitan region, especially people living in the City of Swan and the Shire of Mundaring, who rely on this advice and assistance when they�ve fallen into trouble.

�Financial counsellors are simply too important to take away and this cut will have a devastating impact.�

Duncan Edgar, the sole employee left at the Forrestfield office and soon to lose his job, said most of his clients were from the mining industry, which had taken a hit recently.

Mr McGowan said he was unable to say at this stage if a Labor Government would reinstate the funding after the 2017 State Election.

Mental Health and Disability Services Minister Helen Morton said the increase in WA�s population meant 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,� Mrs Morton said.

�Regional financial services will continue for another 12 months.�

Mrs Morton said the Financial Counsellors Association of Western Australia (FCAWA) would extend and increase its focus on metropolitan clients.

�FCAWA is currently piloting a web chat option for clients,� she said.

�Vulnerable families and individuals experiencing hardship will still be able to access support in relation to their financial situation, including Hardship Utility Grants, social services and emergency relief, and no-interest loans for those on low incomes for essential household goods and services.�