Monday 22 Jan 2018
By: Sandy Ross
When too many FCs are barely enough
As I settle into my new role, I have begun to develop an understanding of some of the challenges and opportunities in the Financial Counselling sector in Victoria.
There is a lot to do in developing and providing relevant and engaging Professional Development opportunities, and in clarifying and supporting meaningful and accessible professional supervision. Effective advocacy across a range of areas affecting financially vulnerable Victorians remains of great importance across the sector. There is also a need to coordinate more effectively across the different funding bodies so that the sector can operate more coherently. AS the peak body, FCRC needs to take a leadership role in these areas.
FCRC and Consumer Affairs Victoria have both been looking at the demand on the sector. Feedback to FCRC so far indicates consistent concerns from FCs and agencies that client numbers keep increasing, and the clients are presenting with more complex circumstances. FCRC is currently surveying Agency managers on demand and their approaches to demand management, and we will report on the results of that in February. At the same time, while there are more courses than ever before producing diploma graduates, as online delivery frees up access of Victorian students to most providers around Australia, there are pressures on agencies being able to provide placements to all the students enrolled in the Diploma. Funding for FC positions appears to be lagging behind both the client demand and the supply of new entrants to the sector requiring training – and that is before looking more widely at the potential needs in sectors not well connected to financial counselling services. I anticipate a lot of work advocating for the sector in coming years so these needs can be better addressed.
Consultation on Insurance Code
The General Insurance Code Governance Committee has launched an own motion inquiry into the sale of add-on insurance products. This is a grey area when it comes to code regulation as the sales practices and products are not necessarily covered by the General Insurance Code. The Committee has invited submissions from consumer advocates, and FCRC is contemplating making a submission. If you have clients who have had a bad experience with insurance add-on products, please let me know about it.