Two measures provide additional funding in recognition of the impact of the economic downturn on vulnerable individuals and families.
Emergency Relief and Financial Counselling
An additional $80.4 million has been provided for emergency relief and financial counselling with effect from 1 March 2009 until 30 June 2011 in recognition that demand for these services increased in 2008 and that further increases are expected in 2009 due to the impact of the global financial crisis. Funding will provide emergency relief and financial counselling agencies with greater capacity to effectively respond to the needs of individuals and families in temporary financial crisis so they can overcome their immediate crisis and head off greater financial stress.
The additional funding will:
- help service providers to meet increased demand for emergency relief,
- provide more substantial assistance to first time clients and better link clients with budgeting and financial counselling so they can get back on their feet and head off greater financial stress; and
- be used to fill service gaps in high need areas.
Innovative money management initiatives
An additional $50.0m funding over two years will also be provided for money management initiatives such as no interest loans, matched savings and other innovative projects that will help vulnerable individuals and families receiving low incomes, including the unemployed. This support will help people build or rebuild their assets, change money management habits and build self-reliance in the longer-term.
This initiative complements crisis assistance through emergency relief and financial counselling for people most at risk of financial exclusion and disadvantage. It will provide more support for people dealing with financial stress through a suite of financial management initiatives including innovative projects, information and education to help build financial independence.
This funding will provide community and charitable organisations with greater capacity to effectively respond to the needs of individuals and families in crisis and financial stress.
Funding for both measures will be provided under the Commonwealth’s Financial Management Program in 2009-10 and 2010-11.
Service providers have reported increased demand for emergency relief and financial counselling including an increase in the number of first-time clients, including more working families, and clients with increasingly complex needs.
Under the Commonwealth’s Financial Management Program, Emergency Relief, Commonwealth Financial Counselling and Money Management Services are delivered across Australia, generally in areas of disadvantage to provide crisis, financial or other assistance to individuals and families. These services work together to address underlying causes of financial crisis.
The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs began implementing this measure from March 2009, with Money Management Projects to be implemented in the second half of 2009.
Total Government Funding
$80.4m over three years (Doubling Emergency Relief)
$50.0 million over two years (Innovative money management projects)