3rd May 2016 – Financial counsellors welcome with relief the May budget announcement that $7.1 million in funding for 50 problem gambling positions will be continued.
On behalf of the State and Territory financial counselling associations and financial counselling agencies around Australia, we thank the Government for their continued support for the valuable work of financial counsellors.
Financial counsellors specialising in problem gambling have been on tender hooks for the past six months, not knowing if they would still have jobs.
But worse, the whole sector has been worried that services which are demonstrably helping problem gamblers recover from financial ruin would be closed.
With the exponential growth in online gambling, and continued problems with poker machine addictions, there is a growing need for highly trained specialist problem gambling financial counsellors. Ubiquitous advertising by online sports betting companies is clearly contributing to more problem gambling.
FCA recently released data collected from agencies funded to provide problem gambling financial counselling. The survey and case studies show that financial counselling makes a positive difference for many clients. The majority of clients improved their financial position. Many clients also experience positive changes in physical and mental health.
While this funding announcement is welcome, we note that the funding is only for 12 months until June 2017. All funding contracts for financial counselling services as a whole – problem gambling and generalist financial counselling – will now all expire in June 2017. The sector will therefore continue to face funding uncertainty. There has to be a better way.