Coun­selling ser­vice con­cern


Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Footy Finals 2015 - Bryce Luff and Su­sanne Reilly

BEL­MONT VI­TAL fund­ing for fi­nan­cial coun­selling ser­vices has been re­al­lo­cated by the State Gov­ern­ment, but there are con­cerns it is not enough.

In June it was re­vealed the State Gov­ern­ment planned to halt fund­ing to not-for-profit fi­nan­cial coun­sel­lors in metropoli­tan ar­eas and save at least $6 mil­lion over the next four years.

But in a welcome turn-around last week, Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Min­is­ter Tony Simp­son said the Gov­ern­ment had iden­ti­fied funds which could be repri­ori­tised to fi­nan­cial coun­selling ser­vices through to June 30, 2018.

Un­der the new model de­liv­ered by the Depart­ment of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment and Com­mu­ni­ties, metropoli­tan ser­vices will re­ceive $2mil­lion each year.

“With this fund­ing, there will con­tinue to be a mix of face-to­face ser­vices and tele­phone sup­port for vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing fi­nan­cial hard­ship and re­quire as­sis­tance to man­age their sit­u­a­tion,” Mr Simp­son said.

Bel­mont MLA Glenys God­frey has wel­comed the de­ci­sion and said since the an­nounce­ment of changes to fi­nan­cial coun­selling fund­ing in June she had ac­tively lob­bied for fund­ing for Jacaranda Com­mu­nity Cen­tre’s fi­nan­cial coun­selling ser­vices.

“I strongly be­lieve that the face-to-face fi­nan­cial coun­selling ser­vices of­fered by Jacaranda are unique and cru­cial for our com­mu­nity in Bel­mont,” she said.

“Many of the peo­ple who at­tend Jacaranda have lit­er­acy dif­fi­cul­ties or come from a Cul­tur­ally and Lin­guis­ti­cally Di­verse back­ground, so face-to-face is the best way for them to ex­plain their sit­u­a­tion to a coun­sel­lor.”

How­ever, Western Aus­tralian Coun­cil of So­cial Ser­vices chief ex­ec­u­tive Irina Cat­tal­ini was un­sure there would be any im­prove­ments un­der the new ser­vice model, con­sid­er­ing the Gov­ern­ment was yet to prove the pre­vi­ous sys­tem was in­ef­fi­cient.

“We main­tain our call for the State Gov­ern­ment to re­store full fund­ing needed for face-to-face ser­vices, which is closer to $4 mil­lion,” she said.

“The $2m that has been se­cured, while welcome, will not be ad­e­quate to en­sure a sus­tain­able ser­vice sys­tem that meets the needs of vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in fi­nan­cial hard­ship.”

WALGA Pres­i­dent Lynne Craigie backed the de­ci­sion to give re­spon­si­bil­ity for fund­ing to the Depart­ment of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment and Com­mu­ni­ties.

“Peo­ple in the com­mu­nity re­quir­ing these ser­vices are of­ten at a break­ing point in man­ag­ing their fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion and to be de­nied ac­cess to ser­vices for even a few months could be dev­as­tat­ing,” she said.

“It’s im­por­tant the State al­lo­cates the new fund­ing to ser­vices across the metropoli­tan area so ser­vices are easily ac­ces­si­ble.”

Fi­nan­cial Coun­sel­lors’ As­so­ci­a­tion of WA’s Char­lie Brown said the as­so­ci­a­tion would work with Mr Simp­son to en­sure the ser­vice is de­liv­ered smoothly.

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