Wednesday 30 May 2018

Interview with Cathy Clark, Uniting Lentara

Please tell us about your background.

I have lived in Melbourne all my life growing up in a very community active family. My act of rebellion was then pursuing a career in Business in the Mining and Banking sectors. I spent most of my career working in head offices, setting strategy and targets with no contact with actual consumers. I have two children: one at university, and one in the final year of high school.


What motivated you to pursue financial counselling?

I enjoyed my corporate career but as my children got older I found the work life balance very difficult to manage. I also felt a need to contribute more to my local community, my family background once again influencing me. I thought that many of the skills I had developed during my career would be transferable.


What are the unique aspects of your role or the area you work in?

I work four days a week across two different agencies Uniting Lentara and Banyule Community Health. Over the four days I am funded from four different sources which cover Problem Gambling, Elder Abuse, Family Violence and as a Generalist Financial Counsellor. In a perfect world each position would be funded full time.


What has been your experience as an FCRC board member?

I joined the board at the end of 2016 and have found this a great learning opportunity. Peter Gartlan was a great support when I joined the board, as is Sandy Ross now. All the board members are volunteers and very committed to growing and improving the sector.


What has been your proudest achievement to date?

I think like most financial counsellors receiving positive responses from clients is the greatest reward. I am proud of one of my cases being used in the Royal Commission to outline the inadequacy of internal regulation within insurance. It took nearly two years of consistent push back for my client to receive his income protection payout with the case eventually going to the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal.


What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the financial counselling sector?

Financial Counselling should be imbedded in many sectors including aged care, health and education. Funding needs to be both increased and diversified. The sector needs to ensure that our strong advocacy work is not diluted due to the daily work pressures. I am concerned that government push for financial literacy must not be at the expense of financial counselling. Success to me will be when the majority of the community knows what a financial counsellor does and that there are enough FC’s in the community that they are readily accessible.


What has been the most valuable resource or advice you’ve received?

Without a doubt the most valuable resource is other financial counsellors. I am constantly impressed with the diversity of knowledge in the sector.


And now for the easy questions...

What book are you reading at the moment?

Breath by Tim Winton. I read it several years ago and the imagery has stayed with me. I wanted to read it again before seeing the movie.


What movie have you recently seen?

I recently saw Jasper Jones which inspired me to read the book. The book resonated with me and though set in the 60’s I think many of the injustices are still present today.