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Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

Government holds housing stress forum in Calwell

Tanya Plibersek, and Member for Calwell, Maria Vamvakinou, tonight held the latest of the Australian Government’s housing stress forums in the Melbourne outer north-western suburb of Roxburgh Park.

Tonight’s forum was the first to be held in Victoria, following others in Bankstown and Cabramatta West (Sydney), and North Lakes (Brisbane).

“The Rudd Government understands that working families are doing it tough and these housing forums provide a great opportunity for local people to get advice from experts who understand their situation,” Ms Plibersek said.

“I encourage anyone who is worried about their capacity to pay their mortgage or struggling to pay the rent to come along and get information from financial experts.

“The one message which has come through in previous forums is that if you get into trouble – act early.”

The panel of experts on hand to answer questions from the floor includes Phillip Field – Commonwealth Ombudsman Banking and Finance, Dr Elizabeth Lanyon – Consumer Affairs Victoria, Tom Munro – Legal Aid Victoria and Garry Rothman – Broadmeadows Uniting Care.

In the May Budget, the Government doubled the amount of funding for financial counsellors as part of a $2.2 billion housing package.

“It is important for people to know that there is a lot of help available for homeowners – whether it’s through the Ombudsman’s office, Consumer Affairs, Legal Aid or NGOs such as Uniting Care.

“This is a great way for people to get some important tips to help pay the mortgage and keep their head above water and I congratulate Ms Vamvakinou for her initiative in holding this important community event.”

Ms Vamvakinou said: “Despite recent cuts in interest rates there are still plenty of people doing it tough in my electorate.

“The big mistake many people continue to make is to wait until it’s too late to get help and that’s why it’s important to get all of the information you can to help inform your decision making.

“Our housing affordability problem has taken a decade to develop and it won’t be fixed overnight.”