Bobby Goldsmith Foundation (BGF) clients will be asked to take more responsibility for their own finances under changes to services in the new financial year.

As of July 1, existing BGF clients will be asked, where possible, to take more personal responsibility for the daily costs of bills, electricity and rates.

Financial assistance will be prioritised to provide emergency assistance and short-term support for people in periods of financial stress.

The organisation will continue to help cover medication costs and the Medicare gap for HIV-related procedures. No-interest loan schemes will still be offered, as will supported accommodation.

“We’re not stepping away from financial assistance, but we do want to re-focus it towards helping people with their HIV health,” BGF CEO Bev Lange told Sydney Star Observer.

“We want to encourage clients to look to the future rather than rely on assistance. It’s a development that gives clients more options in terms of returning to work and study, while making sure we have a catch-all for people who need our assistance more.”

People receiving ongoing financial assistance will be encouraged to access financial management services and programs to help clients return to work and study.

One BGF client, who agreed to speak anonymously, said the cuts to financial assistance would force some clients to cut down on essentials like food.

“I think most of the people who will be affected will have to find ways to cut their costs — they’ll have to cut down on their food bills, something which is essential to staying well. Or they’ll choose to wear a big jumper this winter, rather than pay to use the heater.

“BGF have offered to pay for medications, but that isn’t really a major cost anyway, and you can get that through ACON, so they’ll be doubling up. Keeping up with insurance on your house, rates, gas, etc is hard, and you don’t want to have to move out of your house.”

Lange said all clients would be treated on an individual basis and caseworkers would work closely with people to ensure they understood how the changes would affect them and connect them to other assistance programs.

She said anyone concerned about the changes should contact BGF.

info: For more information or to contact BGF, visit www.bgf.org.au or call 9283 8666 or 1800 651 011.

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