Help at hand for struggling families

FAMILIES on the Northern Rivers struggling to make ends meet can get financial help through NSW Fair Trading, Lismore MP Thomas George has said.

Mr George said the State Government funded financial counselling services and a successful no interest loans scheme, but people often did not know they could access them.

This funding supports 65 dedicated services, including the Consumer Credit Legal Centre Hotline 1800 808 488 as well as a state-wide training program and administrative support for counsellors.

Mr George said more than 40,000 people sought advice from financial counselling services across NSW in 2010.

"I am pleased Lismore Financial Counselling Service and Murwillumbah Financial Counselling Service have received $149,584 and $64,711 respectively," Mr George said.

"I am well aware of the imperative facilities provided to the community through these services, particularly in the past couple of years during the worldwide financial crisis and many natural disasters. 

"I can attest to the value of the free, face-to-face financial counselling provided to an ever-increasing number of people who are suffering severe economic hardship.”

The service provided through financial counsellors was free.

“Early intervention is the key and with good advice and support, people can alleviate their financial stress and with it, much of the emotional and physical stress that ensues,” he said.

Mr George said the Government was investing $1.78 million annually to help struggling NSW families access no interest loans.

“Funding for NILS supports 58 NILS services across the state and includes a dedicated NSW NILS telephone Hotline on 1800 509 994,” he said.

“Since Fair Trading began funding NILS in late 2008, more than 6000 loans worth more than $5 million have been provided.”

The No Interest Loan Scheme offers loans of up to $1200 to low income families to cover essential household or medical goods and services, such as washing machines, refrigerators, computers for children, and other essential items that support family stability and success.

“It is a vital safety net for many people who would normally turn to credit cards with high interest rates and fees, setting them on an endless spiral of unmanageable debt,” he said.

Call 13 32 20 or go to www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au to access services such as financial counselling. Go to www.nilsnsw.org.au to access the No Interest Loan Scheme.



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