Board-funded Mortgage Wellbeing Service provides a lifeline for struggling homeowners - Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner

Board-funded Mortgage Wellbeing Service provides a lifeline for struggling homeowners

April 20, 2016

A pilot program funded by the Victorian Legal Services Board’s Grants program is providing vital services to home owners in one of the highest mortgage stress areas of Australia.

The Mortgage Wellbeing Service, launched in 2015 by Community West’s Brimbank Melton Community Legal Centre and the Djerriwarrh Health Service, reports it has assisted about 130 clients within the service’s first 12 months of operations. The Service provides free legal, social and financial counselling to people undergoing mortgage stress west of Melbourne, including the suburb of Burnside.

In an article published in the Brimbank and North West Star Weekly, Burnside was identified to be one of 20 suburbs experiencing the highest levels of mortgage stress in Australia. The article quotes a recent report by Moody’s Investor Service as showing that as at November 2015, 3.33% of mortgages in Burnside were delinquent (more than 30 days in arrears), and that this figure had increased by 0.77 % in 12 months.

The Mortgage Wellbeing Service reacted with concern at the figures, and predicted the numbers of households experiencing mortgage stress to increase with any future interest rate rises.

The Board provided $351,000 over two years to Community West and the Djerriwarrh Health Service to establish and run the Mortgage and Wellbeing Service. This initiative formed part of a wider $2.6 million program of integrating legal and health services to assist people in vulnerable situations across Victoria.