The cuts to state government financial counselling services in the 2010 State Budget coincided with a period of increasing cost of living pressures and hardship for vulnerable and disadvantaged South Australians. It is expected that these cost of living pressures will see an increase in need for financial counselling services.
This report collates and reports service provision data from six community organisations that provide financial counselling services in South Australia. Because the data sets are not strictly comparable between agencies, it has not been possible to present a single state-wide figure on demand for financial services.
Three out of the four agencies with comparable data from 2010 to 2011 showed a substantial growth in financial counselling clients/appointments. The only agency to record a drop in numbers has seen an intensification of service provision and has still been forced to close its books due to the level of demand.
Perhaps more alarming than simply the increase in the numbers of people needing financial counselling is that, at the current level of resourcing, the community sector is unable to meet the need for financial counselling services. In fact, the figures reveal a system in crisis. Large numbers of vulnerable people are being turned away, bounced from agency to agency and/or kept waiting for weeks while their debt and stress burdens increase.