Thousands left voiceless as financial counsellors cut off from translator service

Some of the most marginalised and vulnerable people throughout Australia were cut off from essential support services, when the Federal government abolished funding for Emergency Relief and Financial Counselling services to access the national Translator and Interpreter Service [TIS], late last year.

Sayeema was attacked by her partner in an act of brutal family violence.  When she was stabbed multiple times by her husband, and left to face medical bills, an uncertain future, a mortgage, and insurance difficulties, she sought help from a financial counselling agency.  South East Community Links then had government funding to access an interpreter for Sayeema.  Without access to interpreters, women like Sayeema would be left voiceless, and with nowhere to turn.

Watch Sayeema’s story:

The Federal Government is no longer providing free access to interpreters for thousands of people, including family violence victim like Sayeema, who are now unable to communicate with community service providers without language interpreters.  Non-profit Financial Counselling services like South East Community Links, who assisted Sayeema, were advised by the Federal Department of Social Service (DSS) that they must find the money for interpreters elsewhere. This will diminish the level of support they can provide.

The Financial and Consumer Rights Council [FCRC] believes that the impact this will have on clients from culturally and linguistically diverse communities is potentially devastating

In multicultural Springvale, community support agencies, local government representatives, local Labor MP Alan Griffin and Julian Hill, the Labor Candidate for Bruce, met to discuss the impact of these cuts on their services.

The forum launched a postcard campaign asking Minister Christian Porter to commit to funding interpreters, ensuring equal access to critical services for all Australians.

“This is yet another attack by the Abbott-Turnbull Government on the most vulnerable, coming on top of already cruel cuts to emergency relief funding. Cutting access to interpreters is forcing services to dip into emergency relief funds,” said Julian Hill, Labor’s Candidate for the Bruce Federal Electorate.

“Cutting access to interpreters unfairly impacts on our community as Dandenong. Springvale and Noble Park have agreater need for interpreters than most other areas. The Liberal government should apologise and reverse this cut immediately”, said Julian Hill.

“Organisations cannot help people without access to a telephone interpreter.  The loss of this funding will severely impact large numbers of vulnerable clients with language barriers, preventing access to critical services to help manage and mitigate financial problems and build stability. Intervention at this stage will result in less pressure on social security, the health and justice systems which see the consequences of chronic financial hardship,”  said Rita Battaglin, Acting EO at FCRC.

FCRC is the peak body for Financial Counsellors in Victoria.
Financial counsellors provide information, support and advocacy to people in financial difficulty.