Not-for-profit employment, training and apprenticeships provider VERTO is today encouraging private tenants and residents of regional NSW facing financial distress to access its free financial counselling service as the cost of living rises.
As a recent report from the Australian National University highlights, a quarter of Australians are under financial stress, and the need for support services is growing.
According to VERTO CEO Ron Maxwell, financial counselling is among the most beneficial services to those facing financial stress. However, it's a service many people don't realise they can access.
"A financial counsellor is trained to help people navigate this difficult time on every level, with advice and support that can be life-changing. It's a free, confidential service, and is not means-tested. It's open to anyone in the community facing financial difficulties," he said.
Mr Maxwell added that while VERTO has seen an increase in uptake of its financial counselling service, many more could benefit.
"With the announcement last week that the RBA has again increased interest rates, individuals and families are continuing to feel mounting financial pressures. Rents are rising rapidly, too, with sharp increases of up to 15% in some areas. Here in the Central West, Forbes has risen by 14.3%, Orange by 8.3% and Cowra by 7.7%.
"An increase in housing costs can be untenable for anyone, and it can be devastating for those already facing financial or employment challenges."
Mr Maxwell encouraged those facing difficulties to reach out for support.
"If you are struggling to pay bills, losing sleep over money, behind on rent or mortgage payments, constantly borrowing from one source to pay another or running out of money before payday, our financial counselling service can help you."
VERTO's free, confidential service is run by professional and certified financial counsellors trained to support people through difficult times. Among the services available, a financial counsellor can create money plans, negotiate with creditors, identify priority debts and assist with access to dispute resolution services.
"If you are struggling with the cost of living, you are certainly not alone, and support is out there, so please get in touch. It won't cost you a cent, but it could make a big difference to almost every aspect of your life," he concluded.
VERTO is a community-owned, not-for-profit organisation delivering a range of apprenticeship, community support, employment and training services to assist individuals, employers and industries. We can be found in over 40 locations across the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria. For more information, visit verto.org.au.