What would happen to your credit commitments if you found yourself: unemployed or having to reduce your working hours, suffering from illness or injury, in a relationship breakdown, with a death in your family, or natural disaster? Would you be able to make your loan, credit card or mortgage repayments? Financial hardship can happen to anyone at anytime, and the Midland Information Debt and Legal Advocacy Service Inc (MIDLAS) have trained, independent financial counsellors to help you work through your options when hardship occurs.

MIDLAS welcomes the recent announcement by the Australian Bankers’ Association Inc (ABA) that the banking industry has committed to a financial hardship package that will support and aid bank customers who are experiencing temporary financial difficulties. Steven Münchenberg, Chief Executive of the ABA, said: “Our research tells us that only one in four bank customers know that the banks offer hardship assistance. We would like to change that.” The financial hardship package introduces a range of initiatives that improve the bank hardship policies and practices ensuring consumers are treated fairly, and with respect and understanding. New industry guidelines on financial hardship will provide practical guidelines on supporting customers’ individual circumstances by allowing for flexibility. So if you are having temporary financial difficulties take action and contact your bank.

A MIDLAS financial counsellor can help you prepare the information that you need for your hardship request. Working through a budget will let you, and your bank, know exactly what you can afford and will assist the bank to offer you the best arrangement for your circumstances. The financial hardship package means that banks have now committed to providing bank staff with more training around hardship. A recent ‘Rank the Banks’ survey by financial counsellor’s ranked the banks out of 10 for their services for clients in hardship, banks generally scored between 4 and 6. The financial hardship package guidelines and bank staff training will mean that consumers and financial counsellors will see an increase in consistency and fairness to consumers in hardship.

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