The free-call 1800 phone-line opened in late April to provide a single point of contact for anyone state-wide to apply for support from those community services providing food and emergency relief.
During its soft launch, the Access Service which is operated by Anglicare WA on behalf of the Network, has received over 500 calls from across Western Australia. Each caller receives an immediate needs assessment with eligible applicants connected instantly with support.
Emergency relief includes fresh and non-perishable food, supermarket vouchers, financial assistance or material items such as clothing, household products, school equipment or personal items.
Network Principal Officer Celia Dufall said due to the impact of Coronavirus, many Western Australians – some for the first time in their lives - have found themselves without sufficient work or income; they’re struggling to make ends meet but are unsure of the support available to them.
“People have been surprised to learn they may still be eligible for financial or material relief, even if they’re not on a Centrelink payment,” said Ms Dufall.
“Emergency relief is available to anyone who has lost their job or had a reduction in their income, has had to dip into their savings to pay for daily expenses and are now struggling to put food on their table for themselves or their families.
The Access Service is operated by experienced financial support workers from Anglicare WA who work with eligible callers to identify the support they’re eligible for, in their local area.
Anglicare WA Services Director Philippa Boldy said the Access Service was established with the support of the Department of Communities, WACOSS and other service providers to take the difficulty out of finding emergency relief.
“Our Access Service operators help to address your immediate need, but that’s not all,” said Mrs Boldy.
“They also take the time to check if you need assistance from other support services to help you through this difficult time, such as financial counselling, housing assistance, legal support and even mental health support for you or your family members.
“You can make the process even easier by having a form of ID like a Driver’s Licence and Medicare or Centrelink card. If you’re seeking support with overdue bills, have them handy too.”
The Emergency Relief and Food Access Service is open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays, on 1800 979 777 or visit www.financialcounsellingnetwork.org.au.