This week, the Fix Pension Poverty team met up with Clancy Peachy, the Financial Counsellor for the Murwillumbah and Tweed Financial Counselling Service, based out of the Murwillumbah Community Centre with outreach services in Pottsville and Tweed Heads.
Clancy described her work in this way: “We support any member of the community who is experiencing financial hardship, specifically when they are dealing with unmanageable credit and debt issue. We also help with budgeting and financial literacy skills. It’s a not-for-profit service.”
According to Clancy there is a massive range of individuals from early 20s to 80s who typically come to her for assistance. Clancy explains that people who come to her the ones who could be experiencing a ‘relationship breakdown’ making it difficult for them to make ends meet.
“We talk all the time about there not being a typical client. It really varies. For older clients, one of the biggest issues people face before they see us is relationship breakdown. They’ve had loans and bills for a long time that have been fine on two incomes, but that changes and debt can lead to housing stress, and reliance debt and credit until people can’t cope anymore so they come and see us.”
“The rental situation here is pretty bleak here in Murwillumbah. It’s not cheap. The issues are the same all over the area that I work, maybe more young people down in Tweed, but otherwise very similar.
She feel that financial literacy is a ‘big issue’ in Murwillumbah and generally, and that low incomes. It’s also hard for older people in particular to get back in the workforce if they’ve left for some reason, and there aren’t enough jobs to go around.
“There’s a lot of payday loan places taking advantage of people. Or not knowing what’s around, just trying to replace a broken fridge or lounges without knowing there about NILS (subsidised loans) and getting sold a product that they can’t afford, under a payment contract which leads them to pay much more than actual product if it was bought upfront. The only way people can then cope is by going without. Without food, without heat or cooling. Trying to save money by going without.”
Murwillumbah and Tweed Financial Counselling Service and The Murwillumbah Community Centre are playing an important role in helping people in the areas of Tweed and Northern River areas when they need help. More information about their services are available on this website www.mccentre.org.au
The Fix Pension Poverty campaign is a partnership between The Benevolent Society and National Seniors, working to address the poverty being experienced by too many people on the Age Pension. We are calling on the Australian Government to:
- Increasing Rent Assistance for people on the Age Pension who are struggling to afford private rents
- Addressing out of pocket health costs by providing affordable dental care for people receiving the Age Pension
- Keeping people on the Age Pension connected to communications as more essential services are transferred online and the National Broadband Network increases costs
- Setting the rate of the Age Pension independently and based on evidence, rather than the politicking of the day
You can sign up to follow the activities of the Fix Pension Poverty campaign by following this link.