Decision to revise financial counselling service irks

A City of Stirling officer has criticised the State Government’s handling of financial counselling services. Picture: Andrew Ritchie. d439462
A City of Stirling officer has criticised the State Government’s handling of financial counselling services. Picture: Andrew Ritchie. d439462

State Child Protection Minister Helen Morton last week announced the State Government would provide a revised funding model for the financial counselling service after initially announcing the service would cease entirely as of September.

Ms Morton said she believed there were improvements that could be made to the financial service, which provides counselling and planning to those struggling financially.

�The Government is bringing those elements together and is considering giving responsibility for all financial counselling to the Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC),� Ms Morton said.

Mr Brereton said the State Government had handled the issue poorly and unfairly, cutting the service by more than 60 per cent.

�The decision seems to be based on concerns about the quality and timeliness of services provided,� he said.

�However, this was never conveyed to providers before the budget was cut, there was no opportunity to talk about improvements or redesigning services prior to this announcement.�

Mr Brereton said the DLGC offered to carry out a redesigned $1.8 million service, almost $2.5 million less than the original service.

Community Services opposition spokeswoman Simone McGurk said the State Government needed to provide at least $2.4 million in order for the service to function properly.

�Financial counselling services were already struggling to cope with the volume of calls for assistance, even before the Barnett Government announced the funding cut,� Ms McGurk said.

�There�s a huge demand for financial counselling services that won�t go away just because the State Government cut funding.�

Ms McGurk said the slowdown in the resources industry meant an increasing number of people would need to access the service.