Practical help in a financial crisis is at hand, with financial counselling

24 04 04 Uc Program

Brisbane has topped the list- but not in a way to be celebrated. According to the Queensland Council of Social Services’ Living Affordability in Queensland report the River City has seen the biggest jump in prices for rent, electricity, insurance and healthcare, nationally, during this cost-of-living crisis.

In Australia, fuel has gone up on average by 13.9 per cent, electricity by 12.7% and rent by 7.8% (ABS- CPI data release 27-09-2023).

Despite government subsidies and other support measures, the QCOSS report highlights that poor financial wellbeing is leading to poor mental health, impacting our lives in more ways than one.

Helping people to take back control of their financial futures

Someone’s financial circumstances can change in an instant: with a job loss, relationship breakdown, illness or other life change. Whether suddenly or over many months, a loss of financial stability can have a domino effect on our daily life and wellbeing, and it can be difficult to know what help is available.

Our Members have a long history of helping people in the community in times of hardship, and Hand Heart Pocket’s Hardship Assistance partnership with UnitingCare enables Members to continue this tradition in a more responsive way.

Anyone in the community can access assistance through the partnership, with UnitingCare providing a fast, personalised and practical response to help people get back on their feet.

What is financial counselling?

Contrary to what most of us think, financial counselling is not just about budgeting and understanding our finances.

A UnitingCare Financial Counsellors’ role is to understand a person’s overall situation and aspirations, empowering them to take control of their financial future.

UnitingCare Financial Counsellors can help with:

– Accessing emergency funds from the State or Australian Government

– Consolidating debts and reduce repayment requirements

– Advocating for a hardship plan or debt forgiveness from financial institutions

– Accessing food vouchers and material basics like free or discounted groceries, cooked meals, school supplies, medical aids and equipment

– Making a recommendation to Hand Heart Pocket for a one-off financial grant, to help overcome a particular financial hurdle.

They can also connect people with help around other challenges in life, like job-readiness, mental health, domestic violence, legal or housing issues.

Offering confidential and non-judgmental assistance

Hand Heart Pocket’s partnership with UnitingCare provides a free, confidential and non-judgmental service. It’s available face-to-face, over the phone or even online, and it services all areas of Queensland. These flexible service options mean that people in rural and remote communities don’t miss out on this valuable service.

Times are tough but help is available

Financial Counsellors at UnitingCare help over 600,000 Queenslanders each year, and more and more people are finding themselves in need.

Anyone referred to UnitingCare through Hand Heart Pocket’s Hardship Assistance program is prioritised for service and will receive a call back from UnitingCare within 72 hours of the referral being made.

The number of sessions provided will be tailored by the UnitingCare financial counsellor to a person’s individual situation.

How do I refer someone facing financial hardship to the HHP Hardship Assistance program?

Most of us will know of someone doing it tough amidst this cost-of-living crisis. It might be a co-worker, neighbour, friend or someone from your local church or cricket club.

Referrals to the Hardship Assistance program can be made by contacting Hand Heart Pocket on (07) 3493 6000 during business hours or on

How do I start a conversation to help someone who may be in financial distress?

It can be difficult to start a conversation about what assistance they might need. Some tips to help with the conversation include:

– Find a time and place where they are likely to feel safe and ready to talk

– Reassure them that they don’t need to share any information they don’t want to.

– If they do share that they’re worried about a financial issue, ask them if they have considered financial counselling, and explain why this could help (see above for the ways that a Financial Counsellor can assist)

– Reassure them that you will keep the conversation confidential.

– If they are receptive, give them a copy of the Hand Heart Pocket Hardship Assistance brochure.

– Give them time to think about it and make their own decisions about what they need.

– For other budget-friendly tips and ways to save, the Queensland Government’s Queensland Savers website can also offer some practical assistance.

What if I am a Freemason Member and I or someone in my family needs help?

– The Hardship Assistance Program is also available to Queensland Freemasons and their families, through the Masonic Fund of Benevolence, which is administered by UGLQ. Members or their families should contact MFOB on (07) 3229 3533 or to arrange a confidential referral.

Find out more about our Hardship Assistance program 

Photo: Image by gpointstudio on Freepik


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