Frustrating funding wait for Bendigo Family & Financial Service

WORRIED: General manager Jenny Elvey. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

WORRIED: General manager Jenny Elvey. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

THE future of Bendigo Family & Financial Service remains uncertain.

General manager Jenny Elvey said the service was about two months away from learning whether many of its services would continue to be funded by the federal government.

"We have put in tenders for all the programs we run, but the results won’t be known until October or November," Ms Elvey said.

"Until then we will just go along as usual, but it’s all an unknown.

"There are a few of us service providers affected; we are not the only ones."

Bendigo Family & Financial Service has faced an agonising wait since a Commission of Audit report released in the lead-up to the Federal Budget recommended 100 per cent cuts to funding of financial services programs across Australia.

Ms Elvey admitted the situation had been frustrating for the service's nine, mostly part-time, staff and band of industry-trained volunteers.

“It’s indecisive for our staff and clients, who don’t know how long we will be here,” she said.

"I have no gut feeling on this at all, the government has been very tight-lipped about it.

"If we don’t get funding, the program will still be here but we will have to scale back some programs.”

The service was given a boost this week - it was awarded nearly $10,000 through the Community Sector Banking’s social investments grants program.

Ms Elvey said the grant would help establish a debt consolidation project, providing low-income earners with access to safe credit without the burden of fees and interest charges.

"Every little bit helps," she said.

Community Sector Banking chief executive and managing director Greg Peel said the grants aimed to help not-for-profit organisations create opportunities for disadvantaged people, empowering them with the important knowledge and skills of financial management which are so often overlooked.

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

It was established in 2006 to help break the cycle of generational poverty in Bendigo.

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