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Lifeline financial counsellors praise landmark funding decision

Lifeline Community Care Queensland welcomes Treasurer Andrew Fraser’s mini-Budget announcement to commit $3 million over two years to fund generalist financial counselling services in Queensland.

Lifeline Community Care Queensland Executive Director Trevor Carlyon said tomorrow’s landmark decision would give significantly more Queenslanders the opportunity to access financial information, strategies and options suitable to their particular needs.

“Meeting the demand for financial counselling in Queensland has, over the last 5 years, been an enormous challenge for community service providers like ours that specialise in supporting those in financial distress,” said Mr Carlyon.

“During these difficult economic times, the Queensland Government is to be commended for not only listening to the concerns coming from the community, but acting upon those concerns.
“This funding will double the number of appointments available to Queenslanders in financial distress – that’s 14,000 new appointments per year,” said Mr Carlyon.
With 30 years of providing financial counselling support to Queenslanders, Lifeline Community Care Queensland has become an industry specialist in financial counselling.

Lifeline Brisbane Client Services General Manager Julie Aganoff, who has been instrumental and innovative in trouble-shooting ways to fulfil the demand for more financial counsellors, said the funding has come at an opportune time.

“When looking at the big economic challenges Queensland faces, it is essential that people in less financially fortunate positions are considered when identifying strategies to help – this new state government funding is a clear response to that.

“While we’ve seen the demand for financial counselling consistently increase in recent years, for Lifeline financial counsellors, the recent economic downturn was a frightening signpost,” said Ms Aganoff.

“The financial counselling team has been turning away more and more clients each and every day – this has been a disheartening and stressful experience for both parties.

“However, in anticipation of finding a funding source, we have been responding to this dilemma by training prospective financial counsellors through our Diploma of Financial Counselling.

“Additionally – and fortuitously – just last month we launched a Financial First Aid Telephone Counselling Line which is a help and referral service designed for those experiencing financial distress who are unable to secure face-to-face financial counsellors,” she said.

Lifeline Community Care Queensland Financial Counselling Practice Leader Jillian Fletcher said she was thrilled to hear the mini-Budget announcement.

“The financial counselling sector has never received any generalist funding from the state government, so this is heartening and exciting news – and a great relief for financial counsellors and those in other sectors who grapple with the overwhelming challenges of dealing with financial hardship,” said Ms Fletcher.

“Lifeline Community Care Queensland has qualified financial counsellors who are well trained and dedicated to assisting members of the public who are facing financial hardship and consequences relating to their particular set of circumstances.

“We are seeing clients appear from all walks of life, seeking independent and impartial options.

“Financial hardship is not relegated to the lower socio-economic groups – we are seeing an increase in the number of working and middle-class families needing financial counselling support.

“Some are struggling to pay off mortgages with others challenged by rising rents, credit card debt or managing general living expenses like electricity, gas and fuel.

“It is wonderful to know that we – as the lead financial counselling agency in Queensland – can now support so many more vulnerable people across the state in rural, regional and metropolitan areas,” she said.

Lifeline Community Care is part of the UnitingCare group of community service organisations that helps one in five Queensland families and is an agency of the Uniting Church Queensland Synod.

Those in financial distress can call the new Financial First Aid Telephone Counselling Line on 13 11 51 from 4pm to 8pm, Mondays to Thursdays.