Plea on financial counsellors cuts

Elisia Seeber, SOUND TELEGRAPHSound Telegraph

For the Stainsby brothers, the thought of losing financial counsellors across WA in October is too overwhelming to bear.

Finding out last month they would be left to manage their finances by themselves because of State Government cuts, Terry and Shayne wanted to share how valuable financial counsellors had been in their lives.

Cooloongup resident Shayne Stainsby said he first met his Anglicare WA financial counsellor two years ago and did not know where he would be today without her.

"I went to her because I couldn't live, once you take rent out of the disability pension there isn't a lot left," he said.

"Without her making a financial plan for me so that I have something to follow I would be well and truly in debt again and because I'm dyslexic it makes it very hard for me to fill out papers."

He said in one scenario his employer had wrongly paid him and after making a complaint to the appropriate organisation, he was left with paperwork he could not comprehend.

"If it wasn't for her helping me with these problems, people could say anything they want to say and I wouldn't have anyone to talk on my behalf or help me," Mr Stainsby said.

The 55-year-old said because he had such a good experience with his counsellor, when his younger brother Terry, 53, ran into unexpected financial problems he pointed him in the same direction.

"I was absolutely shocked when I heard they were being cut," he said.

Bertram resident Terry, who is an amputee and on high doses of medication, said he was only part-way through sorting out his finances and the stress of not knowing what would happen was unbearable.

"Because of my medication and injuries I become confused and nervous at times and I don't handle stress well anymore," he said.

"When my counsellor started helping it took the pressure off.

"Who is going to stick up and fight for us now and point us in the right direction now?"

Child Protection and Family Support Minister Helen Morton last month labelled the service model, which has 47 service providers offering assistance, inefficient and top heavy.

She believed an effective service could be delivered and save the State Government $1.5 million a year.

She said she had agreed to work with the sector to improve the service with a single metropolitan-wide model.

A Financial Counselling Helpline will also be funded.

The brothers agreed a phone line would not compare and they were concerned for other vulnerable residents.

"We don't want pity - we just want to be able to live and be happy and not have to worry because we know there is someone to help us," Shayne said.

"I'm sure there are a lot of other people in the same boat."

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