29th January 2014 –  Financial Counselling Australia has today released a “Funding Snapshot”, documenting total funding for financial counselling from State, Territory and the Federal Governments.

The document is in “draft” form. It was very difficult to obtain accurate figures about funding levels. Publicly available data is often hard to find, hard to analyse or has not been kept up to date.  However, at a global level, the figures are adequate for drawing broad conclusions. FCA would welcome comments from stakeholders about the data or its presentation.

The “Funding Snapshot” is an important contribution to informed public debate about funding levels for financial counselling in Australia.

“There are 2.5 million Australians living in households of high financial stress”, said Fiona Guthrie, Executive Director of FCA “yet only 950 financial counsellors. That translates into one financial counsellor for every 2,600 people in financial stress.”

The Executive Summary from the Funding Snapshot is attached.

Financial counsellors: community-based professionals providing information, support and advocacy for people in financial difficulty.

Anyone who is in financial difficulty can contact a free and independent financial counsellor on 1800 007 007 or visit www.debtselfhelp.org.au

For further comment please contact:  Fiona Guthrie 0402 426 835

Overall Funding Levels for Direct Service Delivery: State and Federal Governments

  • Total funding from governments in Australia for financial counselling service delivery is $43 million per annum.
  • As a whole, the States and Territories provide a slightly greater share of funding at $23 million per annum, accounting for 54% of total annual funding to the sector.  Federal Government funding is $20 million per annum, accounting for 46% of total funds.

Federal Government Funding

  • Funding from the Federal Government has increased significantly between 2008 and the present. At the start of 2008 it was $2.5 million per annum (and had been at that level since 1990). Total funding is now $20 million per annum.
  • Some jurisdictions are more heavily reliant on Federal Government funding than others.  There are four jurisdictions where the Federal Government provides more than 50% of total funding: Queensland (100%), Northern Territory (90%); South Australia (56%) and ACT (53%).

State and Territory Government Funding

  • There is a wide disparity in funding levels between the States and Territories. The Western Australian Government has the highest investment at $8 million per annum. The Victorian Government invests almost $7 million per annum and the New South Wales Government $6 million per annum.
  • The Queensland Government is the only jurisdiction in Australia that does not fund a dedicated financial counselling program.

Per Capita Funding

  • On a per capita basis by State, the Western Australian Government invests the highest amount ($3.25), followed by Victoria ($1.20). The highest per capita expenditure by the Federal Government is in the Northern Territory ($8.11).

Peak Body Funding

  • Three states receive some funding to undertake their peak body role: Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales. South Australia will have some funding from 2014. FCA is also funded.

Funding Certainty

  • Ongoing funding for the financial counselling sector continues to be uncertain.  Leaving aside Queensland, state funding at present is relatively stable, but all Federal Government contracts expire at 30 June 2014.