The McGowan Labor Government will invest more than $6.8 million to further expand financial counselling services to help get Western Australians, impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, back on track.
As part of the WA Recovery Plan in response to COVID-19, Premier Mark McGowan and Community Services Minister Simone McGurk today announced the relief package with an additional $3.7 million in funding to expand existing financial counselling services.
The funds will help to meet the existing and anticipated increase in demand for financial counselling advice arising from COVID-19 economic impacts.
The initiative is expected to create more than 40 FTE jobs for the financial counselling sector.
In a first for the State, the package includes funding for financial counsellors with specific expertise in small business debt.
The State Government will also work closely with the Financial Counsellors’ Association of WA to increase the number of skilled financial counsellors.
To make this possible, $1.5 million in new funding has been made available for traineeships and diploma scholarships, to grow the financial counselling workforce.
A further $180,000 will go to improving the skills of existing financial counsellors.
This funding will help respond to both the unmet demand for financial counselling and increasingly complex client issues.
A further $1.5 million will deliver financial counselling services in regional areas for a further two years.
As stated by Premier Mark McGowan:
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it unprecedented closures of businesses and job losses.
“It has affected people who have never had to put their hand out for help before.
“Our expansion of financial counselling will ensure that families and individuals who are experiencing financial hardship now are able to access services with little or no delay.
“My Government reinstated this important service which was cut by the previous government.
“I’m pleased we were able to deliver on this election commitment and are now able to go one step further and ensure the service is more readily available to Western Australians.
“We’ve been able to do this and make important investments into critical community programs because of our responsible financial management – even before the pandemic hit.
“This funding will also help Western Australians on the recovery journey and to prepare for when the support being paid to them by the Commonwealth dries up in September.”
As stated by Community Services Minister Simone McGurk:
“The widespread economic instability associated with COVID-19 is putting many WA families under financial pressure.
“In the coming months, families facing mortgage stress, growing household debt and unemployment will have their situation compounded by the end of the JobKeeper and boosted JobSeeker payments.
“We anticipate there will be significant increased demand for financial counselling, and individuals and families need to be able to access these services quickly and easily.
“We know financial counselling works – it can reduce household stress, help households better manage debt and provide a pathway to financial stability.
“This funding boost will ensure that the sector is in a position to help those in need of support.
“The support for small businesses will be particularly important as we work together to rebuild the WA economy.”