Additional financial counselling services in bushfire affected areas

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Noosa and Gympie families and businesses will have additional access to financial advice, as part of a $3.5 million investment by the Morrison Government to support communities affected the recent bushfire season.

Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien said the Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust would receive a total of $20,000 to deliver free financial advice in Gympie and Noosa throughout the recovery period.

"Many people who have been affected by the bushfires are continuing to experience financial hardship, which in many cases has been compounded by the years of drought prior to the fires and the COVID-19 pandemic following it," Mr O'Brien said.

"This funding is great news to help them assess their situation, and plan ahead so they can get back on their feet financially."

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said it was vital families and businesses continued to have access to free financial advice throughout the recovery period.

"Financial counselling organisations in bushfire affected communities are acutely aware of the needs in their respective communities and are able to provide free and confidential support to help people work through their current situation and plan for the future.

"We understand that rebuilding a life after a disaster takes time and this additional funding will improve accessibility to this vital service throughout the recovery."

Financial counsellors can help people manage debt and make decisions about their money, including assessing a person's financial situation, identifying options, advocating and negotiating with third parties such as banks and insurance companies and advising what other support services are available.

The funding will be provided to 22 services operating across 98 bushfire-affected areas based on the level of impact and distribution of Disaster Recovery Payments to ensure it's focussed on the areas of highest need.

It comes on top of $6.5 million which has been distributed in the immediate aftermath of the fires to bolster the National Debt Helpline, services run by the Salvation Army and Anglicare and specialist counselling for small business.

 
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