Wednesday 28 Mar 2018
By: Sandy Ross
After six months as Exec Officer, I have kept encountering an issue that struck me in my first weeks in this role: The need for improved understanding about financial counselling amongst many communities in Victoria (and other states).
Many people in hardship or at risk of hardship are unaware of financial counselling and its potential to enable them to manage their situation. Also, many people providing services for people affected by poverty, hardship and debt who could link clients to it, are unaware, or have a very limited understanding of, financial counselling. The obvious response to this is to educate services or more generally raise awareness of financial counselling. However, as demand is starting to overwhelm the existing capacity, we need to think carefully about our options to meet any increase in demand that would result from more informed potential clients and referrers.
This all requires the development of relationships with current and potential new funding bodies for additional financial counsellors, ensuring the pipeline of training and development is producing sufficient numbers of financial counsellors with required skills, and establishing better systems to manage demand and protect financial counsellors from burnout. This, for me, is emerging as the large scale agenda for FCRC to work on in the medium term.
In the meantime, we recently held the first meeting of our new Centrelink Working Group, with an enthusiastic group of members keen to start developing an advocacy agenda that will make a difference to benefit recipients, or those in need of benefits. Interested members should let us know if they would like to be involved.