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Financial counselling services thrown $7.75m donation

All four major banks, alongside a handful of non-major and non-banks, are part of a group of organisations to donate $7.75 million towards financial counselling services.

The Financial Counselling Foundation will receive a $7.75 million boost following a donation from the banking, finance, insurance, energy, telecommunications, and online gambling sectors. 

All four major banks, as well as the Bank of Queensland, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Group, Macquarie Bank Limited, and Suncorp Group, have thrown their contributions into the mix.

In addition to non-bank lenders are Latitude Financial, Liberty Financial, MyState Bank Limited, and Pepper Money.

The charity provides free and independent advice and support to people with money and debt problems.

A portion of the donation will be used to support the extension of 10 family violence financial counsellors for a further two years as well as supporting those at risk of homelessness and First Nations communities.

Speaking on behalf of the contributors in the banking sector, Australian Banking Association chief executive Anna Bligh said the funding will provide significant assistance.

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“The important work carried out by the Financial Counselling Foundation, and the groups they have determined to receive these grants, is to be highly commended,” Ms Bligh said.

“They are making a real, positive impact on the lives of some of society’s most vulnerable people.” 

The Financial Counselling Foundation’s chairperson George Brouwer said the funding will help support a series of important initiatives. 

“The $7.75 million will enable the Foundation to provide additional support to existing grants that are expiring and to implement new projects identified as worthy through our priority assessment and grants-based process,” Mr Brouwer said. 

“Our current funding priorities include projects to support victims of family violence, tenants at risk of homelessness, First Nations communities and people in prison.” 

The extension of 10 family violence financial counsellors will be overseen by the Family Violence Financial Counselling Agency who are located nationally.

The donation will also allow the Foundation to look at new initiatives, Mr Brouwer said.

“As a result of the contribution, the Financial Counselling Foundation can consider the possibility of a national initiative, in response to research completed by Thriving Communities Partnership, to fund financial counsellors to work within the prison environment and with different cohorts,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Finance Brokers Association of Australia (FBAA) managing director Peter White has been urging brokers to learn how to identify signs of elder financial abuse among their clients, with research suggesting that hundreds of thousands of Australians have been victims of financial abuse.

[Related: NAB cracks down on financial abuse]

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