THE key message from the Financial Counselling and Advice Forum in Baldivis last week was everyone is in the same boat and ‘so much help is available’.
Baldivis MLA Reece Whitby opened the evening.
“People are spending less and there are businesses shutting down in the shopping centre,” he said.
“Many people are experiencing financial difficulties for the first time and they are not wanting to reach out for help.
“Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed, everyone is struggling.
“The most important thing is there is so much help available in this community.
“Ignoring it, hoping it just goes away doesn’t work; that’s when it gets complex, if left and not dealt with.”
Financial Counsellors’ Association of WA runs a national debt helpline.
“We get about 10 140 calls a day from WA alone,” executive officer Bev Jowle said.
“Everyone is feeling the pressure of increased utilities.
“One thing we say is get in early; it’s harder to negotiate your way out when you are in arrears.”
She noted all the attendees were female.
“We’ll talk about sex before we talk about money; there is so much shame about it,” she said.
“With men there is a pride issue. I’m big at telling people to ‘get over yourself, it’s bigger than you’.”
Legal Aid’s civil law director Justin Stevenson said they gave free advice.
“There is a whole lot of things we can do,” he said.
“Normally we have a means test but we are very relaxed.
“Don’t think you can’t come to Legal Aid because of your assets.”