The Salvation Army is encouraging financially stressed Australians to reach out for support early to avoid potentially devastating ongoing debt this Anti-Poverty Week (October 17-23).
New research shows that more than a quarter of Australians are concerned about poverty and hardship in their community and half the country believes housing affordability is an issue.
Sharon Maslen, Salvation Army Moneycare financial manager South Australia, says the Salvation Army sees first-hand the impact on individuals and families experiencing debt or financial stress not reaching out for support early.
“Leaving or ignoring the problem only escalates unnecessary debt and stress,” she says.
Maslen cites the example of how an increase in online shopping throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns has led to an increase in financial options such as buy-now, pay-later (BNPL) schemes.
The Salvation Army found amongst clients with BNPL debt, 48 per cent had more than $1000 accrued, with single parents the most likely users of such schemes.
Recent findings from a financial services comparison provider also found that almost 70 per cent of BNPL users felt financially stressed about their purchases and more than half found that their BNPL payments were causing strain on their loved ones.
“We want to implore Aussies that there are other options available which will not have the same devastating impacts,” Maslen says.
“Please reach out to The Salvation Army and don’t struggle in silence.
“We can talk you through your options and support you on your financial journey to improve your debt.”
The Salvation Army has a range of services available where individuals and families can reach out for financial support.
Moneycare’s services are unique and adaptable to individual circumstances, and can help across the following areas:
- Advocacy with banks and other financial institutions to help with debt relief
- Advocacy with utility providers (electricity etc) to help with affordable repayments
- Letting you know what your rights are and other places you can get help
- Financial counselling and support to get you through the tough times
Furthermore, The Salvos Doorways service is available to support people facing urgent financial need.
As one of the largest providers of emergency relief in Australia, Doorways can provide immediate financial relief for people who need urgent help paying for food and other essential goods.
These services are proven to significantly improve one’s financial situation.
After engagement with Moneycare, those with no difficulty in financial knowledge and behaviour increased to 95 per cent (increase from 75 per cent at intake), and those with no difficulty meeting living expenses increased from 18 per cent to 54 per cent.
The Salvation Army’s services also have shown to improve one’s overall wellbeing, where those with no probable serious mental illness increased from 68 per cent to 87 per cent after engagement with Moneycare.
“This Anti-Poverty Week, The Salvos want to encourage Aussies to have the important questions with your friends and family about money,” Maslen says.
“If you find yourself in need of support, there is no shame in reaching out. The Salvos are here to help, so please, reach out to us early.”
To find out more about The Salvation Army during Anti-Poverty Week, including where you can reach out for support, click here.