'No income since March': Vinnies Mandurah in high demand as unemployment reaches record high

With an unprecedented amount of jobs losses in the Peel region, Vinnies Mandurah conference president Jim Mather says the organisation has been inundated with people needing financial support. Photo: Supplied.
With an unprecedented amount of jobs losses in the Peel region, Vinnies Mandurah conference president Jim Mather says the organisation has been inundated with people needing financial support. Photo: Supplied.

Financial insecurity and unemployment was already a significant problem in the Peel region with Vinnies Mandurah constantly helping people get back on their feet.

But, after an increasing number of Peel residents found themselves without a job due to the global pandemic, many more locals have needed to ask for help.

The unprecedented amount of job losses in the Peel region has left Vinnies Mandurah in high demand with people seeking help, who are ineligible for government subsidies, increasing by 75 per cent and one third of its' clients having no income.

Vinnies Mandurah conference president Jim Mather said many of the people needing financial support had fallen through the cracks of government subsidy criteria.

"The main categories of people falling through the cracks is people on visas and people who were in casual work and short term employment," he said.

"As a result of the conditions of government subsidies they can't get any support whatsoever.

"So a lot of these people have had no income since March when most of them got laid off."

With COVID-19 restrictions causing the closure of the office, Vinnies Mandurah have been providing assistance via telephone or email. Photo: Supplied.

With COVID-19 restrictions causing the closure of the office, Vinnies Mandurah have been providing assistance via telephone or email. Photo: Supplied.

While working from home, Vinnies Mandurah was able to adapt quickly to meet higher than usual demand.

"We have had to make significant changes to how we operate but we have been able to continue working during these tough times," Mr Mather said.

"We have still been able to offer help with rent, food and medical issues via telephone or email.

"As well as the usual assistance we provide we have also been able to help people marooned due to travel restrictions, which is a horrible situation no one expects to be in."

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As the state's unemployment rate reaches a record high of 8.1 per cent and organisations such as Vinnies become increasingly busier, the McGowan government has announced a financial counselling boost.

The $6.8 million financial counselling package is set to support Western Australian households and small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

With increases in demand for financial advice, the initiative is expected to create more than 40 jobs for the financial counselling sector and expand services across the state.

A lot of these people have had no income since March when most of them got laid off.

Vinnies Mandurah conference president Jim Mather

Mandurah MP David Templeman said the boost would help support local residents facing unprecedented financial hardship.

"The impacts of COVID-19 on local households and businesses have been profound, with many needing to access financial counselling and other support services for the first time," he said.

"Financial counselling works and we know this funding will help local families and individuals to reduce household stress, help households better manage debt and provide a pathway to financial stability."

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Mr Mathers is unsure whether Vinnies Mandurah is eligible for the financial counselling boost but said the funds would open up more opportunities to help people in need.

"We do have one full time financial counsellor but we could manage a second one," he said.

"The financial counsellor is able to work out if a person is eligible for more benefits then they are currently receiving and they are very good at negotiating with creditors to get debts reduced, waived or managed.

"So this would open up a lot more opportunities to help clients if we are able to receive this funding."

If you're struggling as a result of COVID-19 give Vinnies Mandurah a call at 0427 956 794 or 0428 490 005. They are open for business by phone from 10am till Noon on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.