By Nick Sinis

WITH the end of JobKeeper and another state lockdown, Anglicare Victoria (AV) is reminding the community they can offer vital financial support.

Throughout 2020, AV’s financial counselling service saw a reduction in the number of people seeking support from financial counsellors in the Bass Coast and South Gippsland Shires.

This was attributed to the elevated rates of government support payments from March 2020.

However, since the end of JobKeeper earlier this year and the reduction of the JobSeeker rate, the service has seen a steady increase in the number of people reaching out for help.

The top presenting issues were hardship payment plans and utility support, credit card debts, rate arrears and financial management (help with budgeting).

And with the state’s lockdown commencing in late May, the organisation saw the number of people reaching out for support increase – again.

“We know that people in our local community are struggling financially, and lockdown is further increasing that pressure,” team leader of Financial Counselling at AV Gippsland, Rachel Tobias said.

“AV financial counselling service provides free and personalised support to people in Gippsland.

“We can conduct consolations in flexible ways during lockdown, such as via telephone or video calls.

“Financial counsellors provide support that is not judgemental and confidential. It is more than just budgeting advice; it is advocacy on behalf of clients.”

Counsellors can refer people who need additional support to other relevant services such as emergency relief, mental health support services and family violence support.

To reach out for support, call AV Financial Counselling team on 1800 286 260 or visit anglicarevic.org.au/financialcounselling.

There are AV offices in Wonthaggi, Korumburra and Leongatha.