Cut Backs in Financial Counselling: City of Stirling

City of Stirling financial counsellor John Harte. Picture: Andrew Ritchie         d439462
City of Stirling financial counsellor John Harte. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        d439462

THE State Government’s cut to financial counselling contracts has been labelled shortsighted by City of Stirling community services manger Chris Brereton.

The City stands to lose $278,000 in State funding for financial counsellors, which it has provided for struggling individuals and families for more than 30 years.

The State Government will save close to $9 million a year after announcing the funding cut earlier this month.

Mr Brereton said the State was targeting a vulnerable minority.

“In a time when there is increased financial stress, people losing jobs, particularly in the mining sector, it seems shortsighted to remove a highly valued service that maintains the very fabric of our community, families and children,” he said.

Mr Brereton said the cuts would have an immediate impact on the mental health of service users.

“This is an easy option for government as the people most affected by the removal of the service have no collective voice,” he said. “The Government needs financial counselling itself, as the short-term savings, will certainly result in increased costs on other systems and personal costs to thousands of families across the metropolitan area.”

Stirling Mayor Giovanni Italiano said he was shocked by the decision.

“Families in financial stress experience family violence, breakdown and some people will develop mental health related illness as they will see no way out,” he said.

Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said funding needed to focus on support services that promoted the safety and wellbeing of at-risk children and families.

“I have asked the department to develop a metropolitan-wide model, which could comprise face-to-face counselling, a telephone helpline and web chat services,” she said.