Some asylum seekers and refugees are so traumatised by authority in their homeland that they are too scared to even go to the bank, says Mark Brophy, who manages the Williamstown Community Education Centre.

The centre is now able to run a financial literacy course thanks to seed funding from the Hobsons Bay Community Fund (HBCF).

“These people are coming from countries where maybe at times they’ve been authoritarian and so they’re quite nervous and they’re not confident to go to banks because bureacracies in their country were maybe a bit strict and could have negative consequences.

“They come to us with everything from divorce settlements to rental contracts to online sales to paying bills – it’s difficult for someone …to understand some bills and administration.”

Applications are open for this year’s round of HBCF funding. Grants committee chairman David Mattner said the fund used interest from its corpus to award small grants of $500-$5000 to local organisations and associations.

“The HBCF believes that by working together, we can benefit and reinforce our community’s capacity to look after itself for present and future generations.” Applications close May 31.