Financial Counselling Australia has welcomed two key announcements made last night as part of the Federal Budget.
The first measure will secure the ongoing pay of financial counsellors employed by a number of financial counselling agencies and other community organisations.
The Government will provide $132.6 million over three years to services impacted by the end of the Social and Community Services Special Account (SACS). This account was set up to fund the increased wage costs following the 2011 Equal Renumeration Order from Fair Work Australia decision.
The money will now be part of their base funding.
The decision means these organisations are no longer facing an effective funding cut.
Agencies can expect to hear from the Department soon about contract variations to incorporate the SACS supplementation into existing contracts.
The other great news is the provision of $44.4 million over three years from 2021-22 (and $12.9 million per year ongoing) to continue Microfinance, Money Support Hubs and Problem Gambling Financial Counselling measures.
These programs are now in the same category as general financial counselling and emergency relief funding and are classified as ongoing.
The fact these programs are now ongoing shows the Government recognises how important they are to the social, financial and mental well-being of people. At a time when so many people will be doing it tough, and unemployment is forecast to remain high for so long, financial counselling will be more important than ever.
Financial counsellors provide free, independent and non-judgemental assistance to people facing financial hardship. They work in not-for-profit organisations and are different to financial planners or advisors.