The Salvation Army has called on the Morrison government to accelerate its reforms proposed by the banking royal commission to help reduce the risk of financial hardship.
Head of the Salvation Army’s Moneycare, Tony Devlin, has said that in lieu of Anti-Poverty Week, it is imperative that the recommendations are “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.
According to Salvation Army research, one-quarter of participants in its Moneycare program experienced extreme housing stress, with 16 per cent experiencing energy stress.
Further, the research found that participants spent at least 50 per cent less on essential items such as food and health compared with average Australian households.
The group stated that law reform around predatory lending and increased funding for financial counselling services is particularly needed.
The Salvation Army survey found that more than 90 per cent 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 added.
“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.”
[Related: NAB to provide $2bn for affordable housing]