I recently met with Tony Devlin, who runs counselling for the Salvation Army, and he made the point that, whereas four years ago 10 per cent of their clientele were people with mortgages, suffering housing stress, it is now in the order of 40 per cent, which helps to explain why the need for this funding is so great. He also made the point that people often come to financial counsellors too late-when the sheriff is at the door or the bank is foreclosing. At that point in time, financial counsellors can do very little to assist people that come to see them.
He also made the point-and others have made this point too-that people who come to financial counsellors are sometimes pensioners or people who are unemployed and yet have six credit cards and debt in the order of $100,000, which is very difficult to explain or for banks to justify. I am glad to see that the green paper on financial services is addressing this point, because I think it is appalling and something that definitely needs to be addressed.
My question to the minister is: how and when will that additional funding be distributed? Please give some detail about how organisations apply and whether it will be distributed only to big organisations like the Smith Family and the Salvation Army or whether smaller, locally based NGOs can also get access to these funds.’