The Illawarra Legal Centre is set to expand its financial counselling service to several new outreach locations in 2013.
Financial counselling will be available in Wollongong, Corrimal, Warilla, Kiama, Ulladulla and Nowra.
The Legal Centre is located in Warrawong and currently offers free financial counselling over the phone and by appointment at the centre. The service includes advice and advocacy on financial difficulties faced by clients such as debt recovery, bankruptcy and mortgage stress.
From early next year financial counsellors will be available at these six new outreach locations on a regular basis, making the financial counselling service far more accessible for Illawarra residents.
Illawarra Legal Centre’s principal solicitor, Phillip Dicalfas, said that the service expansion is a result of a change to the way the State government provides its financial counselling funding.
“The financial counselling funding used to be split between several different service providers in the Illawarra,” Mr Dicalfas explained.
The Illawarra Legal Centre will now be the only service funded by NSW Fair Trading to provide financial counselling services in the Illawarra, and Lifeline South Coast Financial Counselling Service will be sub-contracted by the Centre to provide the service in Kiama and the Shoalhaven region.
The financial counselling services will be added to the numerous outreach services already offered by the Centre including a bi-monthly advice service for women at the Illawarra Women’s Health Centre in Warilla and the Children’s Court Assistance Scheme at Port Kembla Children’s Court.
Sharon Callaghan, Community Legal Education Worker at the Centre, says that these types of services focus on preventative work through community education in the hope that legal matters can be resolved before they reach the courts.
“So much of our work is done at a preventative level through education. It is a strong focus of our work and more socially and economically beneficial for individuals and the community,” she said.