Learn more about our financial counselling and emergency relief programsJune 24, 2021
Throughout Australia, housing prices are on a sharp increase. In fact, the Commonwealth Bank forecasts that housing prices will continue to go up by 16% over the next two years due to the housing market boom. With this information, you’d think that Australia’s economy is booming too, right? After all, housing sales are driving housing costs up, so this means that people have the means to purchase new houses and cars.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. It may surprise you that there are currently record numbers of Australians seeking emergency relief services and financial counselling. Why is this? And what are the benefits of financial counselling and the driving factors leading people to explore this option?
Why Australians access emergency relief services through CatholicCare
The three biggest drivers behind the rise in referrals for access to emergency relief services through CatholicCare are the impacts of COVID, the increased cost of living and Australia’s current housing situation.
Currently, the unemployment rate in Australia is sitting at 5.1%, and this is an improvement over the 7% previously. However, Australians are still out of work, and COVID resulted in a lack of employment opportunities.
Additionally, there have been changes to the way Australians work, with many choosing to relocate from the city to more regional areas. In turn, the demand for rental properties in these regional areas skyrocketed and low-income households found themselves priced out.
Another factor that drove the need for increased access to emergency relief services was the fact that a lot of clients received the COVID related income supplements throughout 2020. Many of them adjusted their budgets to reflect the increase in income, but these supplement have now ended. Because of this, some of our clients who were eligible for this help suddenly found that they couldn’t afford the expenses they had locked in, and this led to financial vulnerability.
There were also government initiatives that allowed people to temporarily suspend their rent payments. These clients then accrued arrears they had to pay, which put a further strain on their already maxed-out budgets.
As a result, the number of applications for emergency help increased.
How CatholicCare’s emergency relief services benefit clients
CatholicCare currently has several ways in which our emergency relief services benefit eligible applicants. These benefits include but are not limited to:
- Issuing vouchers to help with urgent prescription medications, transport, food and material belongings
- Making rent-in-advance or bond payments to help clients secure affordable accommodation
- Paying removalist costs to assist applicants to move their belongings to a new tenancy
- Purchasing whitegoods
- Paying various bills, including phone and utility bills
- Offering food hampers
- Offering support and referrals for other services.
Financial counselling through CatholicCare
Another service CatholicCare has seen an increase in interest in is financial counselling. One reason for this is that many people aged between 55 and 65 lost their jobs at the start of the pandemic and are now having difficulty finding a new one. There’s also been an increase in single women who left violent relationships during the pandemic. People doubled their income due to the JobKeeper and JobSeeker, and now they have to adjust to living on less money again. Some scenarios where we have helped include:
- Helping a client navigate which payments she can access and create a workable budget for to help her plan to leave her violent partner with her two young children
- Working with clients to help them access housing support
- Contacting creditors on behalf of client’s and negotiating to settle debts
As a result, our clients get a huge burden lifted off of their shoulders. They get the information they need to make informed decisions about their financial future. In turn, they can start to improve their situation, gain access to valuable services and get on the road to being debt-free.
CatholicCare’s emergency relief and financial counselling programs are free and independent services that cater to people in all income categories. Even if you think you don’t qualify or your situation ‘isn’t bad enough’, we encourage you to reach out for a quick chat. We’re happy to answer your questions. Call 1800 324 924 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.