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Bankruptcy no longer the final option!

Friday 19th of August 2005

"Bankruptcy is no longer the final option considered for escaping crippling financial debt - suicide is," says Mrs Faith Boehm, financial counsellor for the Anglican Counselling Service (ACS).


In the last 12 months, Mrs Boehm has conducted 371 sessions of face-to-face and telephone financial counselling to clients throughout the New England and North West of NSW. Clients are seen in ACS offices in Tamworth and Armidale and the service is free. Of these clients, 7% (all male) contemplated suicide as a way out of their crippling financial difficulties.


Fortunately, no suicides occurred as clients were able to be referred for assistance and they were given hope. By liaising with banks and financial institutions, Mrs Boehm has been able to assist most clients to avoid bankruptcy by implementing budgets and agreed structured payment programmes.
Only 9% of clients ended in bankruptcy. Mrs Boehm says, "If possible, it is better to avoid bankruptcy."


The biggest reason for financial debt is "credit card over-commitment" comprising 55% of clients and the major offending age group is the 26 - 45 year olds making up 87% of all age groups seen. Mrs Boehm says, "That a possible reason is the 'I must have it all now' attitude that pervades this group. They must have a good house, good car and all the latest electronic equipment. So they put their mortgage, their car payments, and their food bills all on their credit cards."


Other contributing factors to the credit card over-commitment are the freedom at which credit cards are handed out to consumers and the lack of communication between departments within banks and financial institutions. Mrs Boehm says, "One department of a bank may have started proceedings to recover a credit card debt from a customer whilst another department of the same bank may invite the same customer to increase their credit card limit or apply for another card."


58% of clients were receiving government benefits. Males and females were seeking assistance in equal numbers. More recently, some small businesses have been seeking assistance. Mrs Boehm says, "There is hope in most cases but it will take time. Banks and financial institutions are willing to negotiate for their benefit as well as yours."


For More Information Contact:

Anglican Counselling Service (Diocese of Armidale)
PO Box 3052 Tamworth 2340
Tel: (02) 6762 4380
FAX: (02) 6762 5740
Internet: acsdarm@acsdarm.org.au


Authorised: Rev Brian Kirk, Executive Director

19 August, 2005

Phone contact: (02) 6762 4380

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