Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Extra assistance for Australians in need

Australian families under financial pressure will have access to more than 50 new financial counsellors and an additional 49 emergency relief providers in disadvantaged communities across Australia.

The allocation of these positions is part of the Australian Government’s $12 million boost over two years to help an extra 14,000 people a year. We are also providing $3.3 million to deliver emergency relief for the first time in 85 regional communities.

In the lead up to Christmas, more and more people are knocking on the doors of community providers for help to put food on the table and pay rent and bills.

In 2006 the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that one in twenty Australians had difficulties paying their bills at Christmas time. In these tough economic times we are expecting an increase in those looking for financial help this Christmas.

This additional funding will help vulnerable people in areas where emergency relief hasn’t previously been available such as Warren in New South Wales, Roebourne in Western Australia and Caloundra in Queensland.

It will also put more financial counsellors on the ground in local communities across Australia from January next year.

Emergency relief providers and financial counselling services work together to help people access a range of support services.

Financial counsellors help people resolve short and long-term financial difficulties. They provide individually tailored financial advice such as helping people to set goals, organise their debts, and participate in community education activities.

Emergency relief services help with people’s immediate needs in times of crisis.

Assistance often includes food parcels and clothing, transport, chemist vouchers, help with accommodation and utility bills, and referrals to other government and non-government organisations.

Around 750 community organisations currently provide financial counselling and/or emergency relief through nearly 1300 outlets across Australia.

As Australia moves through the global downturn into economic recovery, thousands of families are still struggling with financial difficulties.

The Australian Government is continuing to support the economy through the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan.

The new financial counsellors and emergency relief funding boost are part of the Australian Government’s $130 million additional investment in the Financial Management Program to June 2011.