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Salvos call for action on reforms to help financially vulnerable Australians

16 October 2019

The Salvation Army calls on Government and business to take immediate action on the reform agenda set by the Banking Royal Commission and the Senate Inquiry into Credit and Financial Services targeted at Australians at risk of financial hardship.

The Salvation Army is shining a light on a slew of predatory and unfair practices that persist almost 10 months after the Royal Commission and Senate Inquiry reports were handed down.

Head of The Salvation Army’s Moneycare, Tony Devlin, says the arrival of Anti-Poverty Week underlines the need for the recommendations to be pressed into action. “It is still far too easy for the very people who can least afford it - those who are already struggling with debt - to get even further into financial trouble and debt when confronted with changed circumstances,” Mr Devlin said.

Salvation Army research paints a similarly gloomy picture, revealing that one quarter of participants in The Salvation Army’s Moneycare program experience extreme housing stress, with 16% experiencing energy stress. Participants spent at least 50% less on essential items such as food and health compared to average Australian households.

Law reform around predatory lending and increased funding for financial counselling services is particularly needed. The case for increased financial counselling services is strengthened by survey figures showing that more than 90 percent of participants in Moneycare’s financial counselling programs reported improved ability to handle their own financial situations and to resolve their financial difficulties.

“The vulnerable and desperate don’t need a pay day loan or a ‘buy now, pay later scheme,” Mr Devlin said. What is needed is financial counselling such as that offered by Moneycare which is holistic in its approach, which focuses on working with the person as a whole and builds long-term financial capability and resilience.”

Anyone in need of assistance is encouraged to contact The Salvation Army’s free and confidential Moneycare financial counselling service. For more information, please call 1800 007 007 (National Debt Hotline) or visit salvationarmy.org.au/moneycare.

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