Boosting support for Australians in financial distress

The Albanese Labor Government is committed to responding to cost of living and unexpected bills in Australian households and maintaining our capacity to respond to natural disasters by boosting support for the Financial Wellbeing and Capability grant programs.

The Government is today announcing an additional $114.8 million to strengthen support for Australians experiencing financial hardship.

The additional, ongoing funding, provided through Financial Wellbeing and Capability grant programs, will help address demand for critical frontline services over the next five years, and ensure certainty and stability for a number of organisations including those delivering emergency relief and financial counselling.

It will help more Australian households, including working families and people experiencing financial distress for the first-time, to pay and manage unexpected bills or expenses such as high electricity bills, rent, fuel and medicines.

It will also maintain our ability to provide targeted and responsive support in times of crisis and natural disasters.

The boost, which will be received by eligible organisations over the next month, reinstates funding cut under the previous Abbott Coalition Government in the 2014 Budget.

As part of the former government’s Commission of Audit – established from October 2013 to June 2014 – savings of around $20 million per annum were taken from the Financial Wellbeing and Capability grant programs.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said that cost of living pressures, bill shock and extreme weather events have created greater demand for financial wellbeing and capability services than ever before and boosting funding meant the sector would be able to provide more.

“Our Government will always stand up for Australians doing it tough, unlike the Coalition. We acknowledge that some households in our community are doing it particularly tough due to natural disasters and bill shock,” Minister Rishworth said.

“We are seeing higher and more people with complex issues needing support, as many different kinds of Australian families and households grapple with the ongoing challenges of the last five years.

“This is why we’re providing a $114.8 million funding boost over the next five years, to assist frontline services to meet this demand, and to make it easier for those struggling to pay their bills, to access assistance and support.

The funding boost will provide existing financial wellbeing and capability services with the flexibility and security to respond to unexpected economic stressors including natural disasters impacting Australian families and communities.

Further improvements to Financial Wellbeing and Capability programs are being explored as part of a review undertaken by the Government this year, to ensure services continue to address the complex and changing needs of people and communities and deliver the best outcomes for people accessing services.

More information on Financial Wellbeing and Capability programs, including what supports are available and how people can access them, can be found on the Department of Social Services website.