March 16, 2023
Financial counselling organisations have welcomed the NSW Government’s pledge to double funding for financial counselling services, if re-elected.
This would double the NSW Government’s investment in the sector from $9.6 million a year to almost $20 million and will mean around 100 more financial counselling positions and between 10,000 and 15,000 more people being able to access financial counselling.
Financial counsellors are free, community-based professionals that provide advice and support to people experiencing financial stress. There are many reasons people find themselves in financial difficulty: they lose their jobs, they or someone close to them falls ill, their relationship breaks down or bills simply pile up. A financial counsellor can help people find a way through all of that.
Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) CEO Fiona Guthrie said the funding boost recognised that financial counselling can make an enormous difference in a person’s life.
“It is particularly welcome news for NSW which has been through the wringer over the past 15 months and is still dealing with the enormous economic fallout of floods and bushfires, amplified by interest rate rises and general cost-of-living pressures.
“We now call on the Minns Labor Opposition to match the Government’s commitment.
“Adequate funding for financial counselling should be an election issue. Financial counselling is a vital community service and investing in it brings broader benefits. When people are able to address the financial issues that are at the heart of so many other problems, there are positive flow-on effects for them, including in mental and physical health and improved relationships. People are saved from homelessness, can keep the lights on and can put food on the table. All of these save costs in other parts of government.”
Financial Counselling Association of NSW chair Geoff Cornwall said financial counselling services throughout NSW have been run off their feet over the past year in the aftermath of several natural disasters. These have coincided with significant cost-of-living pressures, so the extra funding would go a long way to ensuring people can receive financial counselling sooner to enable them to get on with their lives.
Mr Cornwall said: “Financial counselling agencies are reporting waiting lists of three, four or even more weeks. That is too long for someone to wait for a vital community service. This injection of funding will mean thousands of people in NSW will now get access to financial counselling that would have been denied to them otherwise.”
Financial counsellors are not financial planners or advisors, who help people who have money to invest
Media Contact: Mike Bruce, Director of Community Engagement: 0403 920 189 or email [email protected]