Belmont: Jacaranda hopes funding for financial counselling buys breathing space

Jacaranda staff and volunteers.
Picture: Jon Hewson    d473911
Jacaranda staff and volunteers. Picture: Jon Hewson d473911

WITH $7.4 million committed by the State Government in the new Budget to financial counselling, the team at Jacaranda in Belmont are hopeful it means a turning point for locals.

The funds are set to be delivered over four years, giving more people immediate access to support in times of hardship.

Jacaranda CEO and financial counsellor Lyndsey Fitzgerald said it was extremely good news for her staff and volunteers.

The organisation has been running an unfunded financial counselling service since 2015, when it lost $256,000 after the then Department of Local Government and Communities introduced a consortium model.

In the past financial year, Jacaranda saw 771 clients on its unfunded program.

“If you were behind with your power |bill, would you know what to do?” Mrs Fitzgerald said.

“We’re trained to get the rights of the clients. The clients don’t get their rights when there aren’t the services available, or we can’t extend it enough because of the money.

“The number of clients coming through is enormous. We’ve taken the money out of our bank account to keep going and we can’t keep it running much longer.”

Community Services Minister Simone McGurk said financial counselling services in the metro region were forced to turn away more than 3000 requests for assistance in the second half of 2016.

“This was entirely due to $1.5 million in funding cuts implemented by the previous government, leaving some of WA’s most vulnerable people at a further disadvantage,” Ms McGurk said.

“Turning people away from access to appropriate financial counselling assistance has serious social consequences.”

Along with reducing waiting lists, the funding is set to prioritise families experiencing domestic violence.

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