Good News in South Australia: Funding for financial counselling and a consumer credit legal service
Last week’s South Australian budget is good news for people in that State struggling with credit and debt issues.
The budget includes $1 million per annum for additional financial counsellors and $400,000 per annum for a specialist consumer credit legal service for the next four years.
Financial counsellors – who work in community organisations – help people in financial difficulty. They work extremely closely with specialist consumer credit lawyers.
“More financial counsellors will make an enormous difference”, said Anne Crouch, President of the South Australian Financial Counsellors Association. “Financial counselling services in South Australia have been at breaking point. The additional financial counsellors will mean that South Australians in financial difficulty will get much quicker access to services that can help them”.
“People with credit and debt problems can be at a huge disadvantage when negotiating with debt collectors or banks”, said Fiona Guthrie, Executive Director of Financial Counselling Australia, the peak body for financial counsellors. “They may in fact have a legal remedy and certainly have consumer rights, but without access to specialist financial counsellors and credit lawyers may never get the assistance they need”.
The lack of a specialist consumer credit legal service in South Australia has been a huge gap in that State for many years.
“The new community credit legal service will be much more effective if the lawyers have access to a network of financial counsellors”, said Ms Guthrie. “In turn, financial counsellors will refer clients to the legal service where they have identified legal issues. This is a very welcome and sensible package.”
Anyone who is in financial difficulty can contact a free and independent financial counsellor on 1800 007 007.