Media Release by Senator the Hon Anne Ruston

Additional financial counselling services in bushfire affected areas

The Morrison Government will provide $3.5 million to increase access to financial counselling services to deliver ongoing support to communities across Australia ravaged during the recent bushfire season.

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said it was vital families and businesses continued to have access to free financial advice throughout recovery period.

“Many Australians continue to experience financial hardship with homes, businesses and workplaces destroyed or damaged by the devastating fires we saw in past year,” Minister Ruston said.

“Financial counselling organisations in bushfire affected communities are acutely aware of the needs in their respective communities and are able to provide free and confidential support to help people work through their current situation and plan for the future.

“We understand that rebuilding a life after disaster takes time and this additional funding will improve accessibility to this vital service throughout the recovery.”

Financial counsellors can help people manage debt and make decisions about their money, including assessing a person’s financial situation, identifying options, advocating and negotiating with third parties such as banks and insurance companies and advising what other support services are available.

The funding will be provided 22 services operating across 98 bushfire-affected areas based on the level of impact and distribution of Disaster Recovery Payments to ensure it’s focussed on the areas of highest need.

It comes on top of $6.5 million which has been distributed in the immediate aftermath of the fires to bolster the National Debt Helpline, services run by the Salvation Army and Anglicare and specialist counselling for small business.