Back to school expenses can put a big strain on finances. Crystal Smith, our Financial Capability worker, has prepared some information about planning and budgeting for back to school.

What do you need to start the school year? Here is a helpful idea for planning your costs.

ItemsEstimate costTick off what I have bought or can reuse

Above is a sample budget. It is really important to remember that the problem for anyone on a low income is not usually a budgeting problem – but the problem created by not getting enough money to live on. However, working out where the money goes can be helpful.

If you need assistance with any issues relating to money, please contact Crystal at KNC.


Worried About Fines?

Lost your licence because of unpaid fines?

Has a child or young person in your care got fines?

Sometimes we can try not to think about fines, or sometimes we might forget or not realise we have been fined until we try to renew our licence or registration.

If fines go to State Debt Recovery interest will be added and you can end up owing a LOT more than the original fine.

Did you know if you have a child and they are received fines, and have not been in a financial position to pay these, they will be sent to state debt recovery which then fees will be added making the fines higher?  Sometimes a young person goes to sign up for their Learners and realises they can’t because of unpaid fines. This can be a bit of a shock!

Here’s What You and your child/young person can do…

Sign up for a Work Development Order- if they are eligible

Apply to have your fines written off if you have serious Financial, Medical or Domestic problems

 Make an appointment with the Financial Capability Worker at the Kempsey Neighbourhood Centre to talk about your options.

What is a WDO (Work Development Order)?

A WDO is where you can do unpaid work, counselling, courses, treatment programs and more activities to clear your fines.

How it works

Follow these 4 easy steps

  1. Are you eligible for a WDO? 

If one of these applies to you, you could be eligible.

  • I get a Centrelink benefit
  • I am in financial hardship
  • I am homeless or living in temporary accommodation
  • I have an addiction to drugs, alcohol or other substances
  • I have a mental illness
  • I have an intellectual disability
  • I have a cognitive impairment( such as autism, brain injury or dementia
  • I am under 18 years old

2Get a sponsor

Some WDO sponsors are listed on the Revenue NSW website or you can call the WDO hotline. If you can’t find one in your area, the WDO Service at Legal Aid NSW may be able to help you find one. The WDO sponsor will confirm if you are eligible for a WDO and tell you what information you need to give them.

Kempsey Neighbourhood Centre is a WDO Sponsor.

3. Agree on your activities

You and your WDO sponsor decide what activities you’ll do. You can find examples of activities below. Your sponsor will set up your WDO with Revenue NSW.

4. Complete your WDO hours

Complete the activities you’ve agreed to do. Your WDO sponsor will report the hours to Revenue NSW each month.

Activities and Rates

  1. Courses $50 per hour
  2. Counselling (includes case management) $50 per hour
  3. Unpaid work $30 per hour
  4. Medical or mental health treatment Up to $1000 per month
  5. Drug and alcohol treatment Up to $1000 per month
  6. Mentoring programs (for under 25 years) Up to $1000 per month

With a Maximum of $1000 a month

Where to get help:

Mid North Coast Financial Counselling Service: 1300 662 540

Kempsey Neighbourhood Centre:   6562 8300

Law Access NSW – 1300 888 529

Jessica Welsh

Financial Capability Worker

Kempsey Neighbourhood Centre


by Jessica Welsh – Financial Capability Worker, Kempsey Neighbourhood Centre

During the current pandemic we understand you may be struggling to get by, especially if you were working and lost hours or even your job due to COVID-19. If you are depending on a Centrelink benefits you may be eligible for either the one off supplement or corona virus supplement.

If you have been on Centrelink and are receiving the Corona virus supplement, you will be getting more money than usual on this benefit. It is really important to remember that this extra money will stop, probably in September or before, and it can be really difficult to manage on the basic benefit.

We have some useful tips on how you can use this money to help you get through this tough time and to prepare for a drop in income later in the year.

  • You could pay extra on your rent to get yourself in advance in case of an emergency where you are unable to pay your rent. E.g.- cut of payments, travel for funerals or unexpected bill
  • You could pay extra on your electricity to get yourself in front in case you can’t afford to make a payment one fortnight.
  • Buy extra non-perishable food to stock up your cupboards and/or stock up on things like cleaning products, toilet paper, soap, shampoo and so on.
  • You could pay a portion off a lay by for a birthday and/or Christmas coming up and get as much paid as possible before the income is reduced.
  • You could pay off your current lay by (if you have one)
  • Put extra money on your NILS loan to pay off quicker (if you have one) so you can reapply for another item if needed.
  • Get your car serviced or tuned up so you have a reliable car in case of an emergency.
  • Buy the kids extra clothing and/or shoes for winter or take advantage of end of season sales to buy clothes a size larger for your kids.
  • Buy new linen and blankets.
  • Plan and prepay for a family holiday.
  • Purchase gift cards – Woolworths, Coles, Big W to allow you to purchase essential items between your payments e.g Bread, Milk, nappies, formula and even clothes. 
  • Some people buy a groceries only supermarket card and save these up for Xmas.
  • Purchase house hold items e.g TV, fridge, washing machine, dryer with a NILS loan or other low interest offer and pay it off quickly.
  • Pay extra on bills e.g car loans, credit cards.
  • Pay off any arrears (if you have any) for electricity or other services and try to pay ahead on these utilities.
  • Remember, every little bit helps and even being a few dollars ahead on some bills can help when things are tight.

If you find that your income has dropped dramatically and are finding yourself struggling to pay any of your bills and/or debts we have financial counsellors who can advocate on your behalf to your creditors, and assist you to work out how to get out of financial trouble.

 It is important to take action sooner rather than later to reduce your stress and make sure that you do not pay increased interest or destroy your credit rating or deal with the stress of phone calls from collection agencies. We provide friendly and non-judgemental support, either face to face or over the phone.

Financial Counselling:  1300 662 540

Financial Capability (help with budgeting):  65628300

Getting back to ‘normal’


I used to have a poster on my wall that said ‘normal is just a cycle on the washing machine’!

However, as most of us know, the restrictions are easing and we are starting to see a return to our usual lives. Kempsey Neighbourhood Centre is now open again with conditions in place to ensure we all remain safe. 

We can’t yet start up our groups and programs but we are all hoping that it will not be long before we can do this.

Please keep following the physical distancing and hygiene suggestions wherever you are and take care of yourselves and those around you.

This has been a challenging time for us all. For some, social isolation has been very very hard, with all the usual places closed and not being able to see family and friends.

One of the big issues in the world today is loneliness. There are times in all our lives where it is easy to become cut off from others and find ourselves feeling very lonely. For people who live alone, trips to the shops, going to groups, attending Church or taking part in sports or activities is a way of keeping in touch with others. So is dropping into the Neighbourhood Centre for a cuppa!

For many people, ‘lockdown’ during COVID 19 has made this loneliness harder and for some people that may result in depression and anxiety getting worse.

If you are feeling this way please reach out for help. There are a number of helplines and services that can give you some support. (See below) Remember that you can also ring or call in the Neighbourhood Centre and we will help with some ideas and referrals. Or just have a chat and a cuppa with you.

One of the reasons Neighbourhood Centres exist is to provide a safe meeting place and a place to find out what is happening in your community. This blog page, our Facebook group and the newsletters and calendars we put out can help you find some ways of breaking down some of the loneliness.

It can be scary to reach out for support and sometimes we are ashamed to admit that we are lonely, sad or anxious. These things can happen to any of us at times in our lives and you probably be surprised at how many people have had similar experiences.

So if COVID 19 has made things even harder for you please reach out for help and support and if you are not sure where to go for this help, give us a call or drop in and we can help you with that.

Take care.


Some support numbers:

Lifeline 131144

Beyond Blue 1300423646

You can also contact you GP or local health centre

Our first blog

Welcome to Kempsey Neighbourhood Centre’s first blog!

In these current crazy times when we are all dealing with new and unfamiliar situations and trying to keep connected while also keeping safe, new ways to keep in touch and informed have become even more important.

Our aim is to provide a regular update of things that are happening in our service, programs and services we have available and anything else that might be of interest to the community.

I thought I would share some of the ways we are keeping the Neighbourhood Centre going even though our doors are closed.

We are still providing Financial Counselling, NILS Loans, Financial Capability support and information and referral via phone or through our face book site. We are also providing Emergency Relief in the form of food packages and vouchers and these can be accessed by coming to the Centre. We can’t invite you in, not because we are rude and unfriendly,:) but because we are trying to keep ourselves and everyone else safe. If you come to the door and knock someone will come and assist you.

The totally amazing Rachel and Mathew are keeping our regular clients in the loop with craft packs, food packs, recipes and support calls. This is a picture of Rachel somewhat overdoing her PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and putting together packages.

Mathew has been working closely with other services to get activity packs out to our kids and families and so far over 300 packs have been provided. We are also looking at ways we can work with other services to assist people to get connected to the internet and access on line support and activities.

So watch this space for ongoing updates and information and all kinds of useful stuff relating to the Neighbourhood Centre.

In the mean time, stay safe and take care