History has been created at VERTO, with an important new financial counselling service launched for the first time in the not-for-profit organisation’s 35-year history.

Thanks to a three-year financial grant from the Financial Counselling Foundation, Kylie Holford has been appointed to provide a range of free and independent financial counselling support to private tenants experiencing financial hardship across NSW.

“Over the past five years, so many NSW communities have experienced the worst drought in history, were then ravaged by bushfires and floods, and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic hit,” said Kylie, who has more than seven years’ experience working as a financial counsellor in the Central West.

“Many people were already finding the increasing cost of living and minimal wage increases very challenging before these natural disasters.

“The financial counselling sector will see more and more people presenting to our services in need of assistance to move forward and rebuild their financial resilience.”

“I am very passionate about the promotion and expansion of the financial counselling sector and, of course, helping people, often when they need it the most.”

VERTO CEO Ron Maxwell said Ms Holford’s role would help those in need with budgeting and money plans, debt management, service referrals, advice and information on credit and bankruptcy, and the ability to advocate and negotiate with creditors, alongside providing emotional support.

“At VERTO, we pride ourselves on positively impacting the lives of individuals and communities,” he said.

“Being able to provide independent financial counselling to our clients will have life-changing results for many. It complements the important free services we already offer in our local communities, most notably tenancy support service to private renters who are struggling financially,” he said.

“Statistics from VERTO’s Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Service (TAAS) released last week revealed that 61 per cent of tenants who engaged with the service in the last year have experienced a rent increase.

“This includes a 550 per cent rise in the number of Bathurst tenants reporting a rental increase from the previous year and a 228 per cent rise in Orange tenants reporting increases.

“As these statistics highlight, there is a real need for financial counselling support in our local communities.”

VERTO’s financial counsellor is being funded by the Financial Counselling Foundation. The foundation aims to increase access to free and independent financial counselling by funding areas of clear, growing need that are not funded by governments.