Utility Literacy Program

The Utilities Literacy Program aims to reduce financial hardship associated with utilities related to cost of living pressures. The program has 3 strategies: community education, financial counselling services and up skilling the community sector workforce.

Community Education - faciliated by Uniting Communities & UnitingCare Wesley Country SA. Providing community based education to assist community members to gain information about utilities debt and usage. These sessions provide information about concessions, payment plans, reading & understanding energy bills & contracts, how much appliances cost to run & energy efficiency strategies for managing energy consumption. In addition, participants learn about accessing other programs that can support them, including No Interest Loans for new energy efficient appliances, financial counsellors, Energy Saver Program and more. Participants are encouraged to bring along their bills so that they can receive assistance on the day. Check the events calendar for an Energy Expo near you!

Financial Counselling Services - These services are provided by The Salvation Army. Qualified Financial Counsellors located across the state are motivated to support and assist people in financial difficulty through an appointment based service. The team will work with people on a personal level to help address underlying issues that are impacting on individuals and their families. No matter how simple or complex the situation, the team can provide information, options, advise of rights and responsibilities, and strategies to manage their financial situation, especially the utility bills! The Financial Counsellors can provide advocacy services, negotiate with creditors, explain and provide information in a way that will increase the clients understanding, knowledge and most importantly keep them informed, supported and in control of the decision making processes. Financial Counsellors can also be accessed through the Utility Literacy Helpline Service from Monday to Thursdays between the hours of 9.30am and 8pm and Fridays 9.30am and 4.30pm (except Public Holidays). To access information, support, referrals, or an appointment, call the Utility Literacy Helpline on the number provided.

Workforce Upskilling - Through 2014 and 2015, UnitingCare Wesley Bowden (UCWB) will present 2-day training workshops, tailored for those people who support financially vulnerable members of the community - such as Community Workers, Emergency Relief Workers, and workers with CALD and Aboriginal communities. Workshops will be presented across the state. On completion, workshop graduates will be much better able to help their clients to take control of their energy and water expenses. They will be better equipped to spot billing errors, and to offer advice to clients about the likely causes of large bills. Graduates will be supported by the program to mid-2016, so that they can create Utilities Power Points, confidently providing assistance and advice to those who struggle to afford electricity, gas and water bills. Contact Heather Merran at UCWB on 08 8245 7175 for the latest on this initiative.

The Utilities Literacy Program is funded by the SA Government.

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Financial Counselling Services

A Financial Counsellor is a person who can assist you with a range of services relating to personal finances. It is free, independent and confidential.

A Financial Counsellor can look at your overall financial situation and provide you with your options and are able to advocate and negotiate on your behalf.

A financial Counsellor doesn't give financial advice, planning or financial assistance.

In South Australia the financial Counselling service is operated by a range of service providers that have qualified Financial Counsellors who are motivated to supporting and assisting people in financial difficulty through an appointment based service (see locations below for providers). They are part of the National Debt Helpline 1800 007 007 and can arrange for a face to face meeting in a location near you or a phone meeting with an experienced trained counsellor.

The Helpline Service is available from Monday to Thursday between the hours of 9.30am - 8pm and Fridays 9.30am - 4.30pm (closed public holidays).

These include providing information and assistance about:

- Financial rights and responsibilities

- Budgeting and money management

- Negotiating with creditors and others

- Debts and the debt recovery processes

- Insolvency and bankruptcy options

- Hardship applications if your situation has changed.

Qualified financial counsellors will help you:

- Ensure you are receiving all your concessions and entitlements

- Manage your money

- Deal with a summons

- Prioritise bills and debts

- Deal with debt issues

- Negotiate with creditors

- Work out a budget or a payment plan

- By referring you to agencies who can help you make informed choices.

Appointments are essential

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