Hopes for change of heart on financial counsellors

Hopes for change of heart on financial counsellors

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The state government was considering reinstating some funding for financial counselling services and shifting the responsibility to the Department for Local Government and Communities (DLGC).

In June the state government told the sector it would withdraw its funding for the Perth metro financial counselling service from October because it was not at the core of the Department for Child Protection and Family Support’s (CPFS) services.

The service cost $2.4 million to run annually.

Last week financial counsellors association chief executive Charles Brown said he believed the state government had changed its mind to provide $1.8 million in funding for the service.

Child Protection Minister Helen Morton revealed she was discussing revised funding arrangements with the sector but said no funding decision had been made.

“The government is working with the financial counselling sector to develop a revised metropolitan service delivery model that is efficient, integrated and sustainable,” she said.

“Revised funding and delivery arrangements are intended to commence from October 1 in the metropolitan area.

“Discussions with the sector are likely to be completed by mid-August.”

Ms Morton was also considering giving responsibility for financial counselling to the DLGC.

“It was clear that with 26 providers scattered across the metropolitan area there were efficiencies that could be made,” she said.

“The government is bringing those elements together and is considering giving responsibility for all financial counselling to the DLGC.

“This will allow CPFS to make the savings intended and continue its focus on its core business of protecting children.”

Shadow Minister for Community Services Simone McGurk said any funding for financial counselling services less than the $2.4 million it currently received would be a slap in the face to the industry.

She said any less was not enough funding to carry out an effective service. “Financial counselling services were already struggling to cope with the volume of calls for assistance, even before the Barnett government announced the funding cut,” she said.

“Anything less than $2.4 million will be a slap in the face and shows the government doesn’t care about helping people in need.

“The slowdown in the resources industry means an increasing number of people will need to access these services.”

The decision to not extend financial counselling contracts for metropolitan services meant about 50 counsellors would lose their jobs but it was expected to save $6 million for the state government over four years.

Financial counselling services across the city were shocked the government would pull funding from the service including William Langford community house manager Maria Cavill who said it could result in more domestic violence.