Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Funding boost to help vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians

Joint Media Release with:

  • Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

  • Julie Collins MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Community Services

Front-line community organisations will be able to provide additional support to vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians with a $171.9 million funding boost in the 2011-12 Budget.

These additional resources will fund emergency relief and financial counselling services, and innovative projects such as low-interest loans and matched savings schemes.

The Gillard Government recognises that we have a patchwork economy. That is why it is critical to make room in a responsible Budget to support the most disadvantaged in our community.

Emergency relief and financial counselling

The Gillard Government is investing an extra $83.3 million over the next four years in emergency relief services to provide vulnerable families and individuals with life essentials such as food and clothing, pharmacy and transport vouchers, and help with accommodation and utility bills.

This ongoing investment recognises that the demand for emergency relief services remains high across Australia. In 2009-10, 1.1 million Australians were assisted by 705 organisations in more than 1,340 emergency relief service locations nationally.

The emergency relief funding also includes $1 million a year to continue to support Foodbank Australia to deliver food and grocery supplies to not-for-profit organisations that help families and individuals in need.

Seventy-seven full-time financial counselling positions established during the global financial crisis will continue to be funded, with an extra $28.0 million over the next four years.

Commonwealth financial counsellors deliver free, confidential and professional counselling for people experiencing financial difficulties.

The Government will also continue to provide funding to the national peak financial counselling organisation, the Australian Financial Counsellors and Credit Reform Association.

This new funding for emergency relief and financial counselling across Australia is in addition to our investment of $15.7 million to 31 December 2012 in emergency relief and financial counselling services in disaster-affected areas in Queensland, Victoria and NSW which was announced on 16 April this year.

Together, these measures represent a 60 per cent increase on base funding for emergency relief.

Innovative money management

The Government is also providing $60.6 million over four years for innovative projects such as no- and low-interest loan schemes, matched savings schemes, and financial literacy projects for Indigenous Australians.

These projects help people on low incomes meet unexpected household expenses, develop long-term savings habits and build their understanding of financial products.

They include:

  • Saver Plus – a matched savings and financial education program targeted at people on low incomes to save for educational expenses, run by the Brotherhood of St Laurence in partnership with ANZ.
  • NILS(R) and StepUP loans – zero- and lowinterest loans to help people on low incomes make household purchases such as buying a new washing machine, run by Good Shepherd Youth and Family Services in partnership with NAB.
  • MoneyMob talkabout – a financial education program for Indigenous Australians living in remote Indigenous communities.

The Government will continue to work closely with community organisations across the country to ensure the most vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians are supported to develop financial security.