The COVID-19 crisis spares no sector of the community but some sectors are particularly vulnerable – and that may be medically, economically or socially.
Already, as the pandemic plays out globally, we are seeing a divergence in how sectors of the community are affected.
“We expect there will be more families pushed into extremely difficult financial situations because of this global pandemic and that many families will need our support for a long time to come.” - Dr Lisa O’Brien
According to Conny Lenneberg, Executive Director of The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL), the disadvantaged often bear the greatest burden: “many people in our community are already experiencing financial difficulty and will certainly be hit much harder by the unfolding coronavirus crisis”.
Charity groups are confronting this reality every day. And even when the acute crisis passes, they are concerned chronic problems will remain.
Dr Lisa O’Brien, CEO of The Smith Family says “we want to make sure this crisis does not have a prolonged impact on the thousands of children in our schools and on the families we support”.
“We expect there will be more families pushed into extremely difficult financial situations because of this global pandemic and that many families will need our support for a long time to come.”
As a long-time partner of BSL and The Smith Family, along with many other community support organisations, ANZ donated $A1.5 million to BSL, The Smith Family and the Financial Counselling Foundation with each receiving $A500,000 to support the financial wellbeing of vulnerable Australians.
The organisations will use the funds for education, employment, aged care and financial counselling programs targeted at disadvantaged people further affected by COVID-19.
ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott says “many Australians who were already doing it tough before COVID-19 will need additional help to get through this crisis. Our charity partners are experts in their respective fields and are best placed to make sure these funds are distributed where they will make the biggest difference.”
The donations are designed to help those charity partners respond more effectively to the greatest hardships.
As the crisis and its economic impact continue, financial wellbeing will come more and more to the fore, according to George Brouwer, Chair of the Financial Counselling Foundation.
“Financial Counsellors will continue to play a critical role alongside government, the community and financial institutions like ANZ to support those hit the hardest,” he says.
Brouwer says people facing hardship should seek assistance from financial counsellors by calling the National Debt Hotline on 1800 007 007.
ANZ is also encouraging employees to support its community partners during this time through its workplace giving program, where ANZ will double match employee donations.
ANZ customers seeking hardship assistance should visit anz.com.au/covid-19/.
Karly Dwyer is a contributor for ANZ News