Thursday 26 Apr 2018

Chair's Report - April 2018

By: Julie Barrow

As we approach May there is lots happening in both the world of financial counselling and finance in general.

The month of May sees many financial counsellors from across Australia travel to Hobart for the 2018 Financial Counselling Australia Conference. It will be a great opportunity to learn more about the landscape our colleagues in Tasmania work within. It is a time to network, learn and discover new innovations and ideas to support the work we do.

We were pleased to see the hard work of the Utilities Working Group, in collaboration with Consumer Action Law Centre and significant support from our former Policy and Campaign workers Jo Benvenuti and Tom McIntosh, result in the announcement of an increase to the Utility Relief Grant cap by $150. Work will continue in reviewing and advocating on changes to the access of URGs to reduce barriers for people struggling to afford basic services. Please contact the office if you can lend your support to this ongoing and important work.

More broadly in the financial world, we see the continuation of the Royal Commission and revelations relating to the conduct of the finance, superannuation and banking sector which does not come as a shock to many of the people we work with daily. The upside of this is that many years of behaviour have been brought to light, which we hope will result in significant positive changes for people accessing credit products in the future.

We continue to lobby across the states for the Federal Government to pass legislation into the payday lending industry, which continues to hit hard at the pockets of people who can least afford the unconscionable fees, rates and charges associated with these products. We encourage all financial counsellors across Victoria to support this advocacy by speaking with FCRC about ways you can make a difference.

We also await an announcement by the Federal Government informing the future direction for the DSS funding of financial counsellors nationally following the 2017 review of the program.

Finally, I would like to thank all the financial counsellors (and their agencies for allowing staff time out of the office) for their commitment to our working groups and newly established sub-committees.We will continue to hear the voices of our members and provide a supported forum for you to work side-by-side in achieving positive outcomes for our clients and our colleagues.