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Counselling Service Under Threat

Monday 31st of May 2004

Family Relationship Counselling and Education services provided by the Anglican Counselling Service (ACS) for the New England and North-West of NSW are currently under threat.


In current funding negotiations with the Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS), ACS has been asked to cut its services in relationship counselling by over 50% to the region for the next 12 months.


The promise of the 2004 Budget was “more help for families… to help raise children, to help balance work and family responsibilities...” But the Federal Government is asking non-government organizations such as ACS to reduce its help to families.


For two years, ACS has been trying to convince the Federal Government that the New England and North West of NSW is under-resourced and under-serviced in regard to Commonwealth funded Family Relationships Support services.


The current FaCS review of the Family Relationships Services Programme has found that family relationship support services that do exist are having a positive impact on families. However, the review has also found that there are high levels of demand evidenced by long waiting lists especially in relation to family relationship counselling and for children in separated families.


It further identified in the discussion paper the needs of “difficult to reach” families in rural and remote areas, indigenous families and families with low incomes. In 2002-2003, 73% of ACS clients were on low incomes.


Despite these findings from the Federal Government’s own review, and submissions from the sector and ACS, rather than increase funding to meet the demand, ACS has been asked to reduce its client target numbers.


A reduction in relationship counselling services may impact on the number of centres that ACS can operate, increased waiting lists, increased pressure on Mental and Community Health services, an increase in family relationship difficulties especially for those who can least afford to find help, see more family conflict and, more children and women feeling unsafe.


The reduction in relationship counselling may see a reduction in early intervention and prevention services that can assist in building both individual and community capacity in the region.


The reduction in ACS services may see a reduction in counselling expertise available within the region.


As a not-for-profit organization, ACS provides a service in relationship counselling to families, children and adults at all income levels and from different walks of life. To provide this service, ACS relies largely on Federal Government funding.


ACS urges the Federal Government to examine its own evidence from the current review of the Family Relationships Services Programme, the data collected over the many years that the programme has operated so that funding is increased to real levels to meet the needs of the New England and North-West of NSW.


The reduction in client numbers is a reduction in service, is a reduction in “help for families”.


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

31 May, 2004

Phone contact: (02) 6762 4380

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