Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

New funding for national 1800 number to provide financial counselling services across Australia

Access to financial counselling services will be made easier with new funding so all Australians can access financial counselling over the phone through a national 1800 number.

The Gillard Government will invest an additional $2.2 million over three years to enhance access to the 1800 007 007 number so people can ring anywhere in the country to speak directly to a qualified financial counsellor.

Speaking at the Financial Counselling Australia conference in Sydney today, the Parliamentary Secretary for Community Services, Julie Collins, said the funding would provide a consistent national referral service.

“A call to 1800 007 007 will provide immediate access to a financial counsellor making it easier for people to deal quickly with simple matters and this funding will also expand the reach of financial counselling services to people who may not be able to use face-to-face services,” Ms Collins said.

“This investment will mean people can ring 1800 007 007 from anywhere in the country and speak directly to a qualified financial counsellor.

“This builds on the Gillard Government’s commitment in the Budget of an additional $28 million over four years to provide secure, ongoing funding for the 77 full-time equivalent financial counselling positions established during the global financial crisis,” Ms Collins said.

“Every day, financial counsellors help people in financial difficulty to get debt under control and manage the family budget. In the last six months, 2,600 people have called the 1800 number for help and calls are expected to continue increasing over coming years.

“We will continue to invest in the services to make it easier for people in financial difficulty to get free confidential assistance from a financial counsellor.”

Ms Collins congratulated Financial Counselling Australia on the excellent work it does to help vulnerable Australians get back on their feet.

“We will also be providing $240,000 each year so that Financial Counselling Australia can continue to advocate for and represent the financial counselling sector.

“This ongoing investment recognises that demand for financial counselling services remains high across Australia,” Ms Collins said.