The case study client supported by Financial Capability (FC) worker Ros during the reporting period initially came for assistance to do a WANILS (WA No Interest Loans Scheme) application. She was a middle-aged woman on a disability support pension requesting assistance with her WANILS loan application to buy a new electric trike. Having an appropriate mobility device was an integral part of her need to remain connected with her community and to help her maintain her independence because she has cognitive, mental health and mobility issues.
It became evident during the appointment that the client did not have a good understanding, or the skills needed to gather the information required for the loan application (including identification documents, copies of bills and invoices, access to bank statements etc). She did not use any banking apps or do any online bill payments and did not receive any bills, apart from Synergy, via the post. The client had relied on using non-bank auto tellers to give her an account balance. If money wasn’t available, she could not make a withdrawal for food and other necessities. The auto teller checks and withdrawals cost $2.50 every enquiry and or transaction (typically $7.50 to take out cash of $20). The client, by necessity, had become very resourceful in connecting in with other community organisations to help her get by (eg visits 3 times a week to the local church for meals, accessing free pet care programs for people with disabilities).
As part of building the clients financial literacy skills, FC Ros encouraged the client to self-advocate and collect as much information as possible by breaking down into manageable tasks, for example visiting the bank to collect 3 months of statements; Centrelink office to organise Centrelink income statement, new Medicare and concession cards; and a call to the bike shop to organise a quote for the new electric trike.
We worked closely to do her budget and the client was surprised at how much money was disappearing unknowingly from her bank account as she lived very frugally and could not understand why there never seemed to be any money in the bank. The capability worker pointed out some anomalies and advised the client of her rights regarding unauthorised direct deductions that were happening. The client decided to challenge the bank and a telecoms provider. The bank was very quick to identify and agree: to reimburse the client $560 for a foreign ongoing scam deduction; set the client up with an appropriate Basic Bank account (no fees or charges); and reimbursed $800 as a goodwill gesture for overdrawn fees and other charges. The client and FC Ros called and set up Centrepey for Kleenheat to cover consumption plus arrears. We checked Synergy (is still in credit), and redid her budget based on the changes. It was clear the client had capacity to repay her NILS loan and also have surplus to commence a savings program (which she was very excited about).
The capability worker acted as advocate for the client to get the NILS application over the line. The clients existing mobility device broke down and was irreparable, so acquiring the new trike became a matter of urgency. Because we did not have all the documents required, FC Ros worked closely with the WANILS team and wrote two letters of support to Good Sheppard explaining the client’s situation and the importance of the trike for her social connectivity, mental wellbeing and to provide her basic needs (travel to and from church for meals). Good Sheppard immediately approved the loan and the client had the trike delivered within two days. The client was very tearful and grateful to be back on the streets. She also received refunds – scam $560 and bank fees $800. The client said she had never had so much money in her account in her life. She now has a payment arrangement in place via Centrepay with Kleenheat, for rent, WANILS and Synergy.
The client said this is the first time she has had more than $600 in her bank in longer than she can remember.
The client has gained skills to self-advocate. She collected bank and Centrelink statements and arranged to have new Medicare and concession cards delivered. She said she would like to share these skills with the people she shares her meals with at the community church. The capability worker gave the client a spending diary and explained what it was for. The client has commented how useful this has been and how she can’t believe how quickly money disappears on small things.
The client said this is the first time she has had more than $600 in her bank in longer than she can remember. She explained that she was one of five children who lived with their single mother growing up. She said they had always lived hand to mouth and relied on charity. She explained she had never been taught how to manage money. The client is very excited about her new financial skills. She now has more confidence approaching Centrelink and her bank. She already has a Foodbank voucher and uses meal support venues in the community (church groups). She agrees and is enthusiastic to commence ongoing financial capability support to improve her financial knowledge and ability to manage her money and is looking toward having a savings buffer and setting some financial goals.
FC Ros spent a lot of time with this client, however working together, we have achieved some excellent outcomes which are really meaningful to her. She has her mobility back, has money in the bank, has payment arrangements in place covering her basic needs and is learning useful skills to help her in the future.