Sussex Street Community Law Service Financial counselling continues to run a critical service from the CVSO Building in Canning Vale and covers the areas of Canning Vale, Willetton, Parkwood, Lynwood, Kenwick, Huntingdale and Harrisdale. Three shires are covered by the service; namely the City of Canning, Gosnells and Armadale and the service sees an even mix of clientele from all shires.
The service reopened in February 2021 and has showed steady growth in numbers, clients and referral sources through this time.
This period saw a steady increase in new clients, however the financial counsellor (FC) continued to manage a consistently high caseload of more than 50 clients throughout the entire period (financial year ending 2022).
Referrals from the FC's own referral sources were steady throughout and a number of important pathways established. Also, several clients were referred to the service by family and friends due to the level of help they received. The number of clients referred from NILS loans gently increased, part being due to the new NILS car loan that became available at the start of the year. As a side note, it is also noticeable that appointments made in school holiday periods reduced due to the demographic of the ‘typical client’ for the service of a middle-aged family with dependents of school age.
The service has noticed the following over this period:
Rental increases by landlords are often higher than 25 %.
Clients are having little option but to pay the rental increase or face finding a cheaper rental, which are often in high demand and small availability. Most opt for the former, which means they are forced to cut back on living expenses, food or incur payday loans, high interest high fee loans to cover day to day living expenses.
Number of debts to utility providers increases.
The service has also seen an increased number of high utility bills accumulated over a period of time. Debts are increasing as payments to cover the usage have not been actively chased, leading to high debts for all utility bills. With the increased costs commencing in July 2022, the FC forecasts that debts will continue to grow as householders pay what they can afford and not cover the weekly usage, which is worrying.
Dependance on pay day debt facilities increases.
Unregulated multiple payday debt with Afterpay, Openpay, Zip, My Pay No, Before Pay etc. becoming more and more common in people’s debt levels. The inflexibility of many of these ’lenders’ to not consider payment moratoriums or arrangements and a reluctance to negotiate has increased the stress for the client. Debt collection agencies are also becoming much more aggressive in contact with the client and negotiations with both the client and FC.
People are having hours reduced at work and therefore earning less.
As Covid has spread throughout the state these last few months, an increased number of people, who are on casual income or who are in part-time employment but have had hours reduced, have sought help due to many of their employers businesses being impacted. This is a worrying trend that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Cost of living is increasing.
With the high increase in cost-of-living expenses, interest rates rapidly increasing and rental amounts jumping significantly, the FC fears that more families already on the borderline seeking help, will increase dramatically over the coming months. Mortgage repayments will increase for those on variable rate loans but the biggest issues could see those that are on low-fixed rate loans struggle to find the additional amount to repay after the expiry of the fixed rate period. The FC forecasts that an increase in this type of client/situation will occur over the coming months.
84 new clients received assistance in the reporting period, 65% of which were females.
Client ages were predominantly between the ages of 30 and 55 (70 %).
65% were of Australian background but the service saw clients from other backgrounds/ancestry including Chile, Germany, India, Holland, Scotland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Many of the clients were referred to other services, including 35% to domestic violence services, 85% to emergency relief, 62% to health services/counselling and 30% to parenting groups for support.
Increasing referral sources making it easier for people to find us.
The Canning Vale office established a number of referral sources through word of mouth with organisations such as Ruah in the southeast corridor, Valued Lives in Belmont and Anglicare Housing Stability Project.
Consistent referrals from NILS
NILS loans consistent with regular referrals were received.
Debt Waiver amounts now total $731,843.31 .
Enhancing community education links
Community education link was established through Victoria Park Community Centre and will encompass Nardine Women's Health Refuge and Women's Health Midland. This will result in regular help, support and assistance for people at these services.
Extended financial counselling availability
Increased availability times for appointments: FC is available from 7 am to 4 pm for face-to-face appointments and out of these hours for telephone appointments.
To make an appointment
Call (08) 6253 9500
Monday to Friday
9:30 am - 4:30 pm
For other ways to get in touch, visit out contact us page.