Tuesday 27 Feb 2018

Chair's Report - February 2018

By: Julie Barrow

It is pleasing to see so many new membership applications flow through from our new students enrolled both at ICAN Learn and RMIT University to study the Diploma of Financial Counselling. Welcome to all the new members keen to learn more about our profession and with a passion to support and advocate for the people we work with in financial hardship.

In the space of advocacy, the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry is underway and there are several ways financial counsellors can contribute to this enquiry. There is a very short timeline for submissions given the establishment of this enquiry just before Christmas, and public hearings already underway.

Financial Counselling Australia is seeking case studies in relation to issues with responsible lending and Consumer Action Law Centre are working with financial counsellors on specific case studies they require to support their submission into the enquiry. Individuals can also make direct submissions through the public submissions online form.

A joint submission – led by Financial Counselling Australia with the support of all states and territories, Choice and Consumer Action Law Centre – has also been made into Treasury’s review (also announced just before Christmas) for “Early Release of Superannuation Benefits – under compassionate and financial hardship grounds and for victims of crime compensation.” A copy of the submission will be available on the members section of the FCRC website. There was a very short turnaround time for this submission and the response has focused on issues specific to a financial counsellor’s scope of work. The responsibility for administering early release of superannuation will transfer from DHS to the ATO during 2018. It is expected that recommendations following this review will be made to the government in March 2018.

The Melbourne Law School at Melbourne University has recently released its research publications under the Financial Hardship Project headed by Professor Ian Ramsey and can be accessed here. Professor Ramsey will be presenting at the FCA conference at Hobart in May.

Finally, this year’s FCRC Conference, to be held in Melbourne in October, will mark the 40th Anniversary year of FCRC. The theme of the conference is “Empowering People” and the prospectus for sponsorship will be released soon.