EIGHTY-one people in the City of Swan were declared bankrupt in the December quarter, according to the Australian Financial Security Authority.
The authority said City of Swan was one of three local government areas with the highest level of insolvency in the Perth metropolitan area.
Last week the McGowan Government announced free financial counselling services would be boosted for Western Australians struggling to pay their bills in high-need areas, which included Ellenbrook and Forrestfield in the City of Kalamunda – both areas are known to have considerable numbers of fly-in fly-out workers.
Department of Communities commissioning and governance acting executive director Jacqui Herring said the department was committed to ensuring people in Ellenbrook and Forrestfield and other suburbs had opportunities to become more financially capable and in charge of their own financial situation.
Ms Herring said UnitingCare West had been contracted to provide services in the Perth north east region which included Ellenbrook, while Anglicare WA was contracted to provide services in the Perth south east region which included Forrestfield.
“Ellenbrook will continue to be serviced by Midland Information, Debt and Legal Advice Service (Midlas), an existing partner within the Financial Counselling Network however this service will transition from part-time to full-time,’’ she said.
“The Foothills Information and Referral Service (FIRS) is a new partner within the Financial Counselling Network and will operate the Forrestfield financial counselling service.
“Jacaranda Community Centre (in Belmont) will provide an Aboriginal financial counselling service, which will include both centre-based and outreach support.
“Alternatively, Aboriginal individuals and families may choose to access any financial counselling services within the metropolitan wide Financial Counselling Network including services available in Forrestfield and Ellenbrook.’’
As part of the extended funding Midlas is recruiting a new financial counsellor to be located in Ellenbrook.
Midlas financial counsellor Siobhan Meerman said Midlas had dealt with 52 cases of bankruptcy in the 2016-17 financial year and 16 in the past six months.
“This generally represents clients who come in saying ‘I think I need to go bankrupt’ but doesn’t tend to catch clients who come in with complex issues and who, after an extended period of trying everything they possibly can to avoid bankruptcy, end up doing it later,’’ she said.
“It also doesn’t catch people looking at Acts of Bankruptcy such as Part IXs, which are still frighteningly perceived as regular debt consolidation loans by some clients.
“It also doesn’t catch clients who are seeking help for bankruptcy but just don’t get an appointment for lack of capacity.’’
Community Services Minister Simone McGurk said the $1.5 million in funding cuts undertaken by the former Barnett government left some of WA’s some suburbs poorly serviced.
“Greater access to financial counselling services is vital if people in difficulty are to get back on track, and recover from financial hardship so we had no hesitation in making an election commitment to reinstate and extend funding,’’ she said.
By Anita McInnes