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FCA welcomes $10 million package for financial counsellors

Financial Counselling Australia welcomes today’s announcement from the Federal Government of $10 million to expand financial counselling services as part of an extra $50 million bushfire assistance package.

Financial counselling is a vital response to natural disasters in the immediate and longer term. The sooner people get support, the quicker they can stabilise their financial situation. In the longer term, financial counselling can help people get their lives back on track.

Financial counsellors provide advice on a huge range of issues. For example, they:

  • go into bat for people to renegotiate mortgages and car payments;
  • can provide advice on whether people should accept cash settlements from insurance companies;
  • can advise people who have lost goods bought through consumer leases; and
  • ensure people know their rights and help them fight their corner.

They can also help sole traders who have personal assets at risk, which is going to be especially important when so many tourist hotspots have been hit hard.  More and more owners of small businesses are seeking help from financial counsellors.

Financial counsellors are trained in negotiation and counselling and offer emotional support at a time when people most need it. Importantly, financial counselling services are free, independent, confidential and non-judgmental.

“We know from experience that it can take two years, and sometimes more, for people to recover from natural disasters. Financial counsellors can provide the advice and support over the long term to ensure that people who are traumatised, and their communities, can recover,” said FCA’s chief executive Fiona Guthrie.

“The extra support announced for the National Debt Helpline is vital, with the service already starting to receive calls from people affected by the bushfires,” Ms Guthrie said. The funding will also support local providers to deliver face-to-face services, including through outreach.

FCA welcomes the contribution of the Victorian Government which, in partnership with the Federal Government, has announced funding for 9.5 financial counselling positions as part it of $14.4 million Case Support Program. Funding for financial counsellors has always been through a national partnership between federal and state governments, so we look forward to hearing what extra funding will be provided by the New South Wales government.

FCA thanks the Federal Government for its timely announcement and the financial counselling sector looks forward to playing its part in helping devastated communities recover.

Media contact: Fiona Guthrie, CEO, Financial Counselling Australia. Ph: 0402 426 835

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