More Australians will be able to receive confidential, free, expert advice from financial counsellors online through the National Debt Helpline.
Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston today announced that the Morrison Government is providing an additional $2 million to expand the National Debt Helpline online chat function around the country.
“We want to make sure that the support services Australians rely on are as accessible and easy to use as possible,” Minister Ruston said.
“The National Debt Helpline has been successfully trialling an online chat function since January last year and during that time more than 16,000 chats were initiated between Australians in need of advice and financial counsellors.
“The chat function will not only be expanded in existing areas but it will also allow people in South Australia and Queensland to use this function for the first time, cementing the service across the country for the next three years.”
The funding comes on top of the $40 million a year the Morrison Government is investing in the National Debt Helpline and related Commonwealth Financial Counselling services. Since the beginning of the pandemic the Government also provided an additional $20 million to ensure these financial counselling services continued to support Australians during the pandemic.
“The online chat function allows someone to talk to a financial counsellor for advice on a full range of financial issues such as developing a realistic payment plan for debts and can also provide referrals to other services including the National Gambling Helpline,” Minister Ruston said.
“The nation-wide chat rollout will be especially beneficial for Australians living in rural and remote parts of the country who may otherwise have to travel long distances for a face to face appointment.”
Financial Counselling Australia CEO Fiona Guthrie welcomed this funding announcement and thanked the Government for its continued support of the sector.
“We know that financial counselling can make a huge difference for people feeling overwhelmed by bills and debt. That is why it is so important that people can access our services in ways that suit them,” Ms Guthrie said.
“Adding online chat will dramatically increase access to financial counselling as many people prefer to interact with services in this way, particularly younger people. The chat service provides additional choice and will complement the existing phone and face to face services.”
People experiencing financial stress can contact a financial counsellor on the National Debt Helpline by ringing 1800 007 007. The chat facility is accessible through the website at www.ndh.org.au