For many years, demand for financial counselling services has far exceeded the available funding for the service. UnitingCare West (UCW) provides financial counselling and emergency relief services at three sites in the metropolitan area. For every person who is able to get into a counselling appointment, more than three other people are turned away.
The service was originally established as Creditcare by Wesley Mission and in more recent years has been supported by Uniting Church in the City. Governments recognised the need for the service and added funding that enabled the service to expand.
On 5 June 2015, the WA Government announced that funding to metropolitan financial counsellors who were providing face-to-face services would cease from 30 September 2015. This is a devastating decision for those people who need affordable, effective, financial support to get back on their feet. UnitingCare West is working actively with a number of other organisations to find a solution to this funding crisis. Your involvement by writing letters of support for the service to your member of parliament or sending messages of support to UCW financial counsellors via the UCW website, http://www.unitingcarewest.org.au, would be valued.
Financial counsellors are skilled and valued members of staff who work intensively with people to ensure that they have a way forward out of difficult financial positions. As a result of the work of UCW financial counsellors, one family who experienced significant financial difficulty due to sudden and serious health issues were able to remain in their own home and renegotiate their financial obligations to a point that they have been able to move forward. Others have been able to remain connected to electricity and water as a result of negotiating payment plans. Without the availability of these financial counselling services, the future of many of those in need in WA may not be so positive.
Effective and timely intervention provided through financial counselling services has been shown over and over to avert crisis and make positive and life-enhancing differences to people who are most in need, which in turn strengthens the communities in which they live. Other financial counselling services, such as FinUCAre, a congregational community service of Mandurah Uniting Church will also be affected by the funding cuts.
To stay up-to-date on progress regarding Government funding negotiation follow the UnitingCare West Facebook page at www.facebook.com/unitingcarewest or sign up to the Uniting Church in WA’s e-newsletter, News and Notes, at http://unitingchurchwa.org.au/.