Relief service fears cash cut

CONCERNED: Sherrill Vivian, Belinda Miles and MP Lisa Chesters.

CONCERNED: Sherrill Vivian, Belinda Miles and MP Lisa Chesters.

A FINANCIAL counselling service in Bendigo fears it could lose its federal government funding.

Bendigo Family and Financial Services voiced concerns, at a morning tea on Friday, that its programs could be axed.

The organisation has provided financial assistance to thousands of people in the community since 2006 but general manager Jenny Elvey said the Coalition's proposed cuts meant the future was uncertain.

News of the possible cuts came in the Commission of Audit report the federal government released last week.

The report recommended 100 per cent cuts to funding of financial services programs across the country.

Bendigo Family and Financial Services provides counselling, emergency relief, small loans and financial management training to those struggling because of lost hours at work, sickness, or unmanageable debt.

"We will be at a very reduced capacity. We will lose half of our programs," Ms Elvey said.

Sherrill Vivian, 62, of Long Gully received assistance from Bendigo Financial and Family Services seven years ago.

"I don't want to see this go because it's wonderful. It's helped me a lot," Ms Vivian said.

Volunteer Ray Tonkin runs the food relief program.

"When you take a food hamper out and put it in the car and the little boy says to his mum, 'look Mum it's real food', that gets to you," he said. 

"It's pretty sad to lose that service. I don't think people realise what we actually do."

Federal Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said she would go to Canberra next week to call on the government to commit to funding financial counselling services in Bendigo.

Ms Chesters has received more than 100 letters from Bendigo Financial and Family Services clients asking for support to retain funding.

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