Survey: Community financial counselling improves wellbeing
New research shows community based financial counselling services not only improve the bottom line of Australians under financial stress, they are also good for their health.
The I Wish I’d Known Sooner! report, commissioned by the Salvation Army and completed by Swinburne University, was released in Melbourne today by the Member for La Trobe, Laura Smyth MP, on behalf of the Minister for Community Services, Julie Collins.
It surveyed over a month 225 Australians under financial stress who were accessing Australian Government funded financial counselling services.
“The research shows the power of counselling to transform people’s lives,” Ms Collins said.
“The survey shows financial counselling services play a critical role in building the financial capability of vulnerable Australians and giving them the skills to recover from debt.
“It gives vulnerable Australians the right tools and support to be financially independent.”
The survey found:
- 68 per cent of respondents felt their financial situation had improved after receiving financial counselling
- 75 per cent reported improved skills in prioritising debt
- 74 per cent felt better able to budget
“An interesting result was that 68 per cent of people said they were less stressed about the future after starting financial counselling,” Ms Collins said.
“And 63 per cent reported their mental and emotional wellbeing had improved as a result of financial counselling.”
Ms Smyth said the research also showed that seeking financial counselling sooner improves the chances of relief from financial stress.
“Around 72 per cent of those who sought help within the first year were more likely to report their financial difficulties had been resolved,” Ms Smyth said.
“It underlines the importance of accessing these services early to prevent stress from building.
“Even in a country like Australia that is doing well economically compared to other parts of the world, thousands in our community find themselves in financial distress.
“The Australian Government is committed to helping disadvantaged Australians overcome social exclusion and financial stress – we are a strong supporter of financial counselling and management services,” Ms Smyth said.
Ms Collins said the Australian Government is investing $56 million over four years into Commonwealth Financial Counselling services.
“This investment will allow organisations like the Salvation Army to continue their great work counselling vulnerable Australians in communities across the country,” Ms Collins said.
“This is just one part of our much larger investment of $465 million over four years for the Financial Management Program.”
Currently, close to 100 community and local government organisations are receiving Australian Government funding to deliver Commonwealth Financial Counselling.