Today Variety – the Children’s Charity announced the launch of a new free financial counselling program that aims to support Australian families of children who are disadvantaged, sick or living with disability.
A 2017/18 study showed that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, disadvantage levels were high – with 774,000 children aged under 15 living below the poverty line – that’s one in six or 17.7% of all children (Poverty in Australia 2020 Report by ACOSS and UNSW).
Raising a child with a disability or illness can be even more expensive and cause financial hardship for many families due to their unique set of financial circumstances, including increased medical costs, specialised education, home modifications and home support. In addition, parents’ ability to maintain a full-time or part-time job can be affected due to the need to take additional time off to care for their child, further contributing to financial stress.
Supported by the AMP Foundation, Variety’s year-long pilot program provides free financial counselling that aims to help families across Australia work through their financial situation and plan for their futures. The service can be accessed both online and over the phone.
“We are excited to partner with the AMP Foundation, who also understand that well-timed, one-on-one support from a financial counsellor can make a world of difference for families experiencing financial hardship,” said Variety Queensland CEO Steve Wakerley.
“Financial counselling is an important service we provide to many of the families we work with who often face financial challenges for a number of reasons such as the costs of raising a child or multiple children with chronic illness or disability, single parent households, inability to work due to being a carer, ineligibility for NDIS funding and loss of income or reliance on government assistance.”
Variety Financial Counsellors can assist with managing debt and household budgets, negotiating with creditors, providing Centrelink guidance, accessing utility grants, and helping families understand their financial rights and responsibilities. They can advocate on behalf of families and can refer them to the right service to access legal advice and dispute resolution.
“This new program presents an opportunity to create real impact for families facing the high costs of raising a child with a disability,” said Executive Officer of Financial Counsellors Association of Queensland Jon O’Mally. “Financial counselling plays a key role in empowering families to secure a sound financial foundation and can improve outcomes on a range of measures, including financial capability and consequently health and wellbeing.”
The financial counselling program is one of many services offered by Variety to support Aussie kids who are sick, disadvantaged or living with disability when they need it most. Other support includes equipment grants, scholarships, experiences like sports days, sports camps and choirs, educational programs and more. Variety is committed to all kids having the ability to reach their full potential, no matter what that potential may be.
The Variety Financial Counsellors are qualified professionals who are independent, non-judgmental and confidential. Families in need with children aged up to 17 years old who wish to access the service can call 1300 012 164. Or go to www.variety.org.au/financialcounselling/