8th June 2015 – The national peak body for financial counsellors, Financial Counselling Australia, urges the WA Government to reverse funding cuts that will see the closure of ALL state-funded financial counselling services in the Perth metropolitan area.

This sudden and shocking decision was notified to financial counselling agencies, funded  through the WA Department of Child Protection and Family Services, on Friday 5th June. The services are expected to close in just over three months, on 30 September 2015.

“This is a devastating blow for financial counsellors and their clients,” said Fiona Guthrie, the Executive Director of Financial Counselling Australia.

“Financial counsellors help people in financial difficulty get back on track.  Without access to free and independent advice, people will remain trapped in a cycle of debt,” said Ms Guthrie.

“It will be impossible for the telephone financial counselling service in Perth to fill the gap. As well, some clients with complex issues need the assistance that only a face-to-face service can provide.”

Cutting funding for financial counselling doesn’t make sense.  The WA Government would save much more in reduced costs in the health and social services systems – financial counselling gives people the help they need without turning to other frontline services.

A 2014 Cost-Benefit analysis of financial counselling from Adelaide University shows that every $1 invested saves $5.

Financial difficulties are so often related to, or the cause of, other problems. These include family breakdown, deteriorating mental and physical health, and sadly, sometimes family violence.  These costs are also borne by the community, as well as the Government.

It is estimated approximately 50 financial counsellors will lose their jobs.  Some services have been serving their local communities for 20 years or more.

Rural financial counselling services have a 12 month reprieve, but it is unclear what will happen at the end of this time.

FCA will be doing whatever it can to convince the WA Government to reverse this decision.
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