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8 June 2020
Moneycare financial counsellor Kristen Hartnett said the service (which has moved to be completely telephone/video-based) had already received calls from people who had lost income or livelihoods and didn’t know where to start in terms of navigating government services and re-adjusting their finances.
“The thing we want to say to people is, ‘You’re not alone’,” Kristen said, “And, ‘it’s ok to ask for help.’”
She said many Australians felt that others were ‘worse-off’ than them, and it stopped them from seeking assistance. She’s also worried that Salvationists, volunteers and staff members felt like Salvation Army services like Moneycare were for community members only.
“The Salvation Army Moneycare Financial Counselling is for anyone in financial distress. Give us a call and have a chat; it’s a confidential service and there are no ‘silly’ questions!”
She said many of the questions financial counsellors had been fielding during the coronavirus pandemic had been around how people could access government financial support, how to speak with landlords and negotiate with banks. “Sometimes just a call to a Moneycare financial counsellor can validate people and give them the confidence that they’re doing the right thing, or pointing them in the right direction,” Kristen said.
Kristen said there were several things people should be prioritising with their finances to set themselves up to get through the COVID-19 crisis:
Kristen said it was healthy at this time for people to be speaking about their finances with each other. “Check in on each other financially. Ask people, ‘How are you going financially?’ It’s a tough question, but we need to be talking about it,” she said.
And for those in the community with a little extra money in their budgets, Kristen said it would be a good time to consider setting up a ‘rainy day fund’, “because that extra money probably won’t last forever and there will be a long way to go before Australia recovers financially from COVID-19.”
People experiencing financial hardship are being urged to seek free and confidential financial guidance: