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Wednesday 27 Feb 2019

EO's report - February 2019

By: Sandy Ross

2019 has started with a bang! Following the Banking Royal Commission outcomes, we have welcomed promises from the ALP to fund a doubling in the size of the financial counselling sector, and the current Federal Government has established a review which also seems more than likely to endorse expansion in funding.

This is an exciting time for a sector that has struggled for recognition, and to have the capacity to meet the needs in our community. However, it is one thing to see the funding arrangements being put in place; it is another to recruit, train and support the numbers of new financial counsellors that will be required. The new funding opportunities will bring with them new challenges in growth and in maintaining and further developing professional standards, and in managing better state/federal funding coordination.

On the advocacy front, we have started to get feedback suggesting a backward slide in hardship practices amongst some major industry bodies. Stories are starting to be heard more and more consistently about poor responses to customers, load shifting onto financial counsellors, and also obstruction and long delays in resolving issues amongst companies that until recently had done a lot better. We will be working with other financial counselling peak bodies to get more information on these trends and consider systemic advocacy options to address them. Along with this we will be looking for ways to collect quick and simple feedback from FCs when they encounter these problems.

Lastly, I am looking forward to engagement with a range of active members at a convenors and board gathering to commence our strategic planning process on 19 March. The new plan will likely run to 2022 – hopefully by then we will be talking about an exponentially larger sector.