When WA went into COVID-19 lockdown, many of the agency partners we relied on to connect us with people in need closed their doors. For those in our community struggling day to day, it was yet another hurdle stopping them accessing food relief.
From an urgent need came a simple solution – a 1800 number connecting individuals and families in the community to emergency relief – the Emergency Relief and Food Access Service (ERFAS).
The service is the first of its kind in Australia and provides a state-wide systems-based approach to supporting vulnerable clients across Western Australia. The initiative is funded by the Department of Communities and supported by the wider Emergency Relief sector through the State Emergency Relief Committee.
ERFAS is delivered through Anglicare WA in partnership with Foodbank and other providers of emergency support across the community, as part of the Financial Counselling Network (FCN).
Calls to the ERFAS 1800 helpline are answered by financial support workers. They listen to people’s hardship stories, identify their most pressing needs and assess their financial situations. Armed with a diverse list of charity services, support workers are able to quickly identify the most appropriate support providers based on need and location. Within 24 hours, a caller in crisis can access the essential support they need.
Celia Dufall, Principal Officer Financial Counselling Network, said, “Overwhelmingly food is the most important thing that people are looking for when they call us. But quite often that’s because they’ve used their available funds to keep a roof over their head, to keep a car on the road, or to pay for children’s education.”
Having emergency food ready to go is just one part of the food relief story. We’ve always relied on our agency partners to provide a touchpoint with the community. Through the pandemic and beyond, ERFAS is providing a facilitated pathway – a streamlined connection between the hungry and the help.
Emergency Relief assistance may be available if you are:
- struggling to put food on the table
- wondering how you’ll pay the rent
- need help paying bills
- have used savings for daily expenses
The Emergency Relief & Food Access Service is a free, accessible, phone-based service.
The team listen to your story and help connect you to local services for support.
Free Call ERFAS – 1800 979 777
9:30am-5pm | Monday – Friday (except public holidays)
** you may be eligible for emergency relief even if you’re not receiving Centrelink Support