THE Attorney General’s Community Service Law Awards are an opportunity to highlight the work of those who have made a pro bono contribution which benefits the Western Australian community.
The 2020 award was awarded to the Consumer Credit Legal Service (CCLSWA).
Community legal centres do the work very few can.
Their assistance can be life changing.
CCLSWA Managing Solicitor Gemma Mitchell said CCLSWA was delighted and humbled to receive this prestigious award.
We would like to thank our clients who trusted us with their stories, and our dedicated team of staff, volunteers and board members.”
In the 2019-2020 financial year, CCLSWA opened 80 case files to assist people in their disputes with banks and other credit providers.
CCLSWA helped a young professional woman who was in a lot of credit card debt and was also signed up to a very expensive home loan.
Her parents were duped into giving a guarantee.
She had to take on a second job to try and keep on top of her repayments.
The severe stress of this sent her into a debt spiral, on top of this she was in a violent relationship.
She became very unwell.
Unable to work she had to apply for Centrelink.
She was facing repossession of her home and her parents were also likely to lose their family home.
CCLSWA successfully negotiated for her to surrender her property without having to repay any shortfall debt after the property was sold and the bank also waived the debt against her parents meaning they could keep the family home.
In total, CCLSWA achieved waivers of almost $185,000 debt, for the home loan and multiple credit cards, giving her financial freedom to start again.
CCLSWA also assisted an 80-year-old widow, who would have become bankrupt and homeless without our help.
She was given a home loan when aged 70 that she could never have afforded.
She lived in an apartment and owed almost $100,000 in strata fees.
The strata company had commenced bankruptcy proceedings against her.
CCLSWA assisted her to claim a refund of $115,000 in interest, fees and charges from her lender.
We also negotiated for the lender to pay her strata fees to avoid her becoming bankrupt.
She still cannot afford to live in the property and so will have to sell.
However, our help has meant she has time to sell and more control over the sales process.
She may be able to use the equity to find somewhere else to live.
These are just two of the hundreds of people Consumer Credit Legal Service (WA) helps every year.
As a result of the pandemic we have seen unprecedented social support.
These measures have temporarily kept Australian businesses afloat, and many families’ heads above water, through the worst of the pandemic.
However, as many of those measures end or change this month we are expecting a significant increase in demand for our services.
In such circumstances, those doing it tough can become easy prey for payday lenders, “rent-to-buy” schemes, and debt management firms, and are at risk of falling deeper into levels of debt, from which they will find it hard to recover.
With the proposed removing of lending protections for consumers, we predict that we will see many more clients contacting us for advice, but will be receiving very different outcomes.
CONTACT: Consumer Credit Legal Service WA on 08 9221 7066, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cclswa.org.au