The Morrison Government is providing an immediate $100 million funding injection to more than 300 charities and community organisations to support Australians in the wake of the coronavirus economic downturn.
Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston is also announcing a new National Coordination Group to help lead our response to emergency relief across Australia.
The sector-led group will be charged with identifying issues at the local, state and national level and providing advice directly to the Minister on how to meet emerging needs.
"The Government understands this is a trying time for relief providers facing rapidly increasing demand while dealing with challenges in maintaining the workforce and distribution lines needed to operate," Minister Ruston said.
"Many people reaching out to these services may have never needed this type of assistance before so we need to make sure we have the right supports in place to help people through this period and bounce back stronger when it's over.
"I have been in constant communication with the sector which has told me what they need and we are responding."
More than $37 million will be shared among almost 200 existing Commonwealth-funded Emergency Relief organisations to boost support and change service delivery methods to comply with social distancing guidelines.
Providers are increasing telephone support and outreach through home visits to safely drop off items such as vouchers and food parcels.
The Morrison Government is also providing $7 million to the Red Cross over the next six months to deliver emergency relief and some casework support to people facing significant vulnerabilities who are on temporary visas.
Food Relief providers Foodbank Australia, SecondBite and OzHarvest will share in $16 million to secure food supplies, transport options and required workforce.
This will help providers adapt service models to make sure food is getting to where it is needed including to other community organisations as well as hampers and mobile food pantries to homes.
Relieving financial stress
The Government is providing an additional $20 million to current financial counselling services including the National Debt Helpline, Money Support Hubs and Problem Gambling to increase their capacity to assist more Australians through the economic downturn.
Currently 115,000 Australians receive Commonwealth-funded financial counselling support each year and the additional injection will enable about 50,000 more to be supported.
Financial Counselling Australia will work with training providers to develop a short-form financial counselling course, training new financial counsellors which will create new jobs for Australians and bolster the capacity of the National Debt Helpline.
Good Shepherd will use $20 million to offer about 40,000 Australians access to safe, affordable financial products through the No Interest Loans Scheme.
The Scheme provides up to $1500 in immediate financial relief for everyday household products and bills as alternative to other high-risk, high-interest products such as credit cards and payday loans. Higher loan amounts may be available through this package following an assessment of client capacity to repay.
Funds under the first round of the Government's $200 million Community Support Package will be transferred to providers from this week with a small contingency fund also set aside this financial year.
The Government will continue to work with the sector to monitor the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and allocate the further $100 million over the next six months to where it is most needed.
For more information about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the support services available visit australia.gov.au
Details of funded providers are available on the Department of Social Service's service directory serviceproviders.dss.gov.au by searching by service type for 'Financial Crisis and Material Aid – Emergency Relief' or 'Commonwealth Financial Counselling and Financial Capability'.