Increased funding for financially vulnerable people and communities

The Honourable Amanda Rishworth beamed into the recent annual Financial Counselling Australia conference in Perth a day after the budget announcement with some welcome news for the financial counselling sector.

The Government will invest around $23 million over four years and ongoing, to provide more pre-crisis and early intervention supports, taking the total recent additional investment by the Government to $138 million over five years.

The funding will support:

  • Emergency Relief, which provides immediate financial and/or material aid to people in financial crisis;
  • Food Relief, which helps Emergency Relief organisations access a cost-effective supply of food items for people in need;
  • Financial counselling and capability services, which help vulnerable Australians address their financial problems, make informed choices and build longer-term capability to manage their money; 
  • Financial resilience services, which provide safe and affordable financial services and products, including no interest loans and a matched savings financial education program.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said this investment is a clear illustration of the Government’s ongoing dedication to be responsive in times of crisis, and to support individuals before they get to crisis point.

“We want to ensure Australians who need support have the tools and resources readily at their disposal in order to become financially resilient,” Minister Rishworth said.  

“This funding strengthens the investments we have already made since coming to Government, including the recent boost of $114.8 million over five years and ongoing to respond to sustained high demand for services, including from cost-of-living pressures, unexpected bills and natural disasters.”

ICAN CEO, Aaron Davis said, “the federal government’s investment is welcomed as we’re seeing unprecedented demand for our financial counselling and capability services. Recent flooding events and consumer remediation activities have stretched our financial counselling service. Our team is crying out for more financial counsellors to lighten the load.”

The Government’s recent investments respond to findings from a comprehensive review of the Financial Wellbeing and Capability Activity, which considered improvements to ensure services better meet individual and community needs.

Minister Rishworth said five-year grants recognises longer-term grant agreements provide the sector with much needed certainty, which ultimately benefits the Australians assisted by these services.

“Guaranteeing this funding supports our incredible community sector organisations to plan, innovate and attract and retain staff so they can continue to deliver each and every day to those in need,” Minister Rishworth said. 

ICAN CEO, Aaron Davis welcomed the announcement of greater certainty and stability for providers through new five-year grant agreements, when new grants commence in 2025.