Anglicare Victoria’s financial counselling services operate from multiple locations across the state and provide free support to any Victorians having a hard time with money – be that debt, job loss, insurance claims, or fines. Our dedicated professionals offer confidential financial information, advice and advocacy, as well as emotional support, for better decision-making.
Few face the kind of burden felt by those whose lives were disrupted by this year’s summer bushfires. Evacuation, trauma and the destruction of homes and livelihoods gave way to a complex and lengthy recovery period – and then the isolation of COVID-19 restrictions set in. Anglicare Victoria was active from the beginning of the crises with emergency relief support and a successful bushfire appeal that raised over $241,000 as of 30 June 2020. We continued to offer support throughout the pandemic with our dedicated financial counselling services.
“You helped me when no one else would, and you have made the sun shine again (for me). Even though there are hard days ahead, they are nothing like when we met. You are a true guardian angel, and my heart fills with joy when I think about you.” – Client message to Anglicare Victoria financial counsellor.
Still picking up the pieces
Operating out of several bushfire recovery hubs in Gippsland and north-east Victoria, Anglicare Victoria supported more than 340 families in the first six months of 2020. Some clients escaped with only their lives. Others were still nursing fresh burns. About a quarter had lost everything on their property.
Due to the severity of the fires, local communities in the north-east corridor of Victoria and Gippsland, lost access to clean drinking water. Anglicare Victoria played an integral role in ensuring that residents had water and that it was distributed to those who needed it most.
While dealing with loss and trauma, it can be tough to ask for help or know where to start.
Our financial counsellors helped clients to navigate the complex, and at times chaotic, bushfire support system, which includes emergency relief, welfare, support services, grants and insurance claims.
“Our financial counsellors do a lot of mental health support and just checking in. That’s a big part of the role.” – Tracey Grinter, Program Manager, Community Services
Changed forever Anglicare Victoria’s financial counselling teams rapidly adjusted to the new paradigm of socially-distanced support. The teams tailored the service to create a faster, more accessible model. They created welcome packs, intake packs and fact sheets to reduce the need for phone calls. Communication transitioned to online channels, consent and creditor contact forms were put online. Video calls allowed services to be delivered directly into people’s homes, at times convenient for clients. The innovation to service delivery has been so effective that the teams have been able to serve more clients than previously possible.
“We had a three-to-six-month waiting list at the start of the pandemic. With the changes in service delivery, we’ve been able to get through the entire waitlist.” – Tracey Grinter, Program Manager, Community Services
A couple had their farm destroyed and lost access to running water. Waiting over eight weeks for their insurance claim approval. This caused a great deal of frustration, and stress to the couple, but they were unsure how to resolve the issue. When they were referred, Anglicare Victoria’s financial counsellors lodged, and then elevated, a complaint. Six days later the couple had water supplied to the house, and three weeks later they were approved for significant funds under bushfire reparations.