Thursday 28 Jun 2018

Interview with David Newport, Upper Murray Family Care

Please tell us about your background.

I came to Australia for a short stay in 1993 and stayed and stayed. I spent three years in the country press in Victoria, moved to the community sector as a tenancy and consumer worker, spent a couple of years with Consumer Affairs Victoria and came to my current agency in 2007 in a community development role, setting up No Interest Loan Schemes. I fell into financial counselling after a fleeting conversation by the photocopier with the FC manager about what I was going to do when the NILS CD program finished.


What motivated you to pursue financial counselling?

The need for a job! When I was doing tenancy and consumer advocacy, I often used to say that financial counselling wouldn’t be for me as I couldn’t handle the stress. But my experience in the NILS sector showed there was a need for more people to stand up for the disadvantaged in the economic arena.


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

North East Victoria has great natural beauty and my work involves outreach to towns including Myrtleford and Bright, which makes for a pleasant commute. I’m lucky also to work for an agency whose management recognises the value of financial counselling for the benefit of families and has supported it for many years.


What has been your proudest achievement to date?

I’ve helped achieve some good financial outcomes for clients, but the moments that please me the most are seeing the transformation that successful financial counselling can achieve, bringing hope, building self-confidence, turning lives around. Corny as it sounds, many clients start financial counselling bowed down with worry and end up walking six feet tall.


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

The uncertainty about the continuity of funding and the exposure to the whims of government funding bodies. Someone joked that "wouldn’t it be something if that recent stunning CBA fine was invested in an independent trust to support financial counselling across the country." Wouldn’t it indeed?


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

The FCA Toolkit is handy, I appreciate the PD sessions arranged by FCRC and the excellent presenters they attract, and think that regional network meetings are a Jolly Good Thing. There’s always more to learn, and these resources help achieve that.


And now the easy questions:

What book are you reading at the moment?/ Favourite book?

Weatherland: Writers and artists under English skies, by Alexandra Harris. After 25 years in Australia, I still miss the English climate (except for January and February’s), and this book feeds that nostalgia.


What TV show are you currently watching?

Practically any Nordic thriller going, while I’m just finding that last year’s reboot of Twin Peaks is as gloriously odd and unsettling as I hoped it would be.