Western Australia Minister for Child Protection Robyn McSweeney
Expansion Of Financial Counselling Services Under Hardship Utility Grants Scheme
Victor P Taffa
Minister for Child Protection Robyn McSweeney today announced the expansion of existing financial counselling services worth $1 Million to June 2012, to assist vulnerable Western Australian families and individuals under the Hardship Utility Grant Scheme (HUGS).
Since August 2008, approximately 14,340 HUGS grants worth $4.89 Million have been made to support families and individuals to maintain essential electricity, gas and water services with access to free financial counselling services to assist in the better management of future household expenses.
“Expanding financial counselling services is vital as it helps individuals and families better manage and balance their current and future household expenses.” Mrs. McSweeney said.
“Most people applying for a HUGS grant that have a long history of financial hardship find that following counselling they are better equipped to manage their expenses. They may then not need to access future additional grants.”
“The expansion of counselling services is happening in areas of most need in our Metropolitan Areas where it is easier for people to access.” Mrs. McSweeney said.
The Minister said the expanded financial services will be located at:
- Anglicare WA in the Mirrabooka, Balga, Girrawheen areas and the Fremantle, Rockingham, Kwinana areas;
- City of Wanneroo in the Merriwa, Clarkson, Quinns Rocks areas;
- Jacaranda Community Centre Inc in the Gosnells, Cannington, foothills areas;
- Midland Information Debt and Legal Advocacy Service in Midland.
“The Department for Child Protection has previously expanded its financial counselling services in 2009-10, in both the Metropolitan Area, Fitzroy Crossing, Merredin/Moora, Bunbury and the Peel Region.” the Minister said.
“Up until the end of June 2011, people who have also shown a genuine commitment to working with financial counselling services to resolve their financial difficulties will have an opportunity to apply for an extra HUGS grant.”
Mrs. McSweeney added the scheme had been expanded under its Exceptional Hardship Criteria to also cater to families and individuals experiencing marital/relationship breakups or major unexpected expenses such as medical treatments or funeral costs that may impact on being able to pay utility costs.
Individuals or families experiencing difficulty in paying their utility costs should contact their providers in the first instance to assess their eligibility. Current utility providers able to provide HUGS grants and make referrals to financial counselling services are Synergy, Horizon Power, Water Corporation, Alinta, Busselton Water, and Aqwest (Bunbury).