Wyndham has recorded the largest number of people declaring bankruptcy in Victoria.
Between July and September this year, 105 Wyndham residents lodged personal insolvencies with the Australian Financial Security Authority.
In the same period, Wyndham recorded an additional 18 debtors with business-related insolvencies.
The area that lodged the second-highest number of bankruptcies in Victoria was Whittlesea-Wallan, with 81 personal cases and 12 business cases.
The authority report said the main reasons Australians cited for declaring personal bankruptcy were “excessive use of credit”, unemployment or loss of income, and domestic discord or relationship breakdown.
West Justice chief executive Denis Nelthorpe said staff at the not-for-profit organisation – which offers free legal advice to vulnerable residents in the western suburbs – were often asked to help with fines, debts and mortgages.
Mr Nelthorpe said that in addition to a high level of bankruptcies, Wyndham postcodes also consistently ranked high for mortgage stress and rental evictions.
Mr Nelthorpe said people who lived in Wyndham, but worked outside of the area, often faced high costs in petrol, public transport and road tolls.
He said there seemed to be a high number of “payday lenders” based in Wyndham and that people in desperate need would sometimes take a loan from such lenders without realising they could be charged incredibly high interest.
Mr Nelthorpe said all levels of government needed to hold a community summit on the issue of financial troubles experienced by many Wyndham residents.
“We need to know why these problems are so significant and what can be done,” he said.
“Clearly, a high percentage of the local population needs significant assistance.
“I would also say, we probably don’t have enough services for people with financial difficulties, so that would be financial counsellors.”
If you need financial counselling, contact Anglicare on 1800 244 323 or go to www.anglicarevic.org.au.