Fiona Guthrie AM
Fiona started her career in consumer advocacy as a voluntary financial counsellor at Caxton Legal Centre in Brisbane, and in 1990 helped set up the Financial Counsellors Association of Queensland.
She has now been involved with the consumer movement for over 30 years, including a number of years on the executive of the Consumers’ Federation of Australia. She’s a former board member of Energex Retail, the Insurance Ombudsman Service and the Financial Ombudsman Service, and a former chair of ASIC’s Consumer Advisory Panel.
She joined FCA as CEO in mid-2009, is a member of the boards of Way Forward Debt Solutions, consumer advocacy group, Choice and the Queensland Competition Authority. She also represents FCA on the ACCC’s Consumer Consultative Committee. She holds a B.A., L.L.B and M.B.A. and in 2017 was a recipient of an Order of Australia for significant service to the community through social welfare and financial counselling roles.
Fiona’s passion for fairness and belief that everyone deserves a fair go drives her work. Her vision is to strengthen FCA’s role as a trusted voice around financial hardship, and to secure adequate and sustainable funding for financial counselling.
Lauren became involved in financial counselling after admission to the Supreme Court as a ‘later lawyer’ and volunteering at the Consumer Action Law Centre for six months. Lauren’s varied skills are put to use in her broad role at FCA in policy and campaigns.
Lauren’s earlier professional roles were in the brewing and malting industries, working for public companies, including Foster’s Brewing Group and a large malt exporter. Job roles covered taxation, marketing strategy and communications.
Lauren also set up and ran an own agency for performing artists for a number of years (which explains why the FCA conference now includes a performance element in between the serious sessions). Lauren’s career shows that deviations (while your children are young) never go to waste!
Rita has worked in the community sector for more than 15 years, including five years managing financial counselling, employment and child support programs. She has also been a member of the Consumer Utility Advocacy Centre Reference Group and United Energy’s Customer Consultative Committee.
It was through her professional experience that Rita became familiar with FCA’s work, and joined the team as Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) Payment Scheme Project Manager in 2015. Rita is responsible for maintaining the FCA toolkit for financial counsellors; maintaining the National Debt Helpline website; monitoring and reporting on telephone financial counselling services and coordinating the Day in the Life project, that arranges for federal politicians to visit a financial counselling service to gain a better understanding of the work of financial counsellors and the issues faced by their clients.
Rita finds the work meaningful and rewarding because financial counselling makes a positive difference to people’s lives and is proud to be a part of a great team at FCA.
Having studied creative arts, cinema and theology, Domenique brings a creative perspective to the industry. She’s been involved in frontline volunteering in a range of areas, including working with people affected by homelessness and people experiencing mental health issues.
Since starting with FCA in 2017, she has been involved in projects to further professionalise the sector, working in areas including training, professional development and contributing to a workforce development plan. Domenique has enjoyed collaborating with colleagues in areas including the national conference and FCA’s Reconciliation Action Plan. She represents FCA in external fora on a variety of policy issues.
Domenique finds it rewarding to be part of a small, but dedicated team that shares a great sense of collegiality and purpose while achieving meaningful results.
Lynda is a descendant of the Wangkumara people of far west NSW and is a passionate advocate for financial inclusion, fairness and financial resilience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia.
After spending more than a decade in the finance sector, Lynda joined the consumer advocacy movement. As program manager at CentaCare Wilcannia-Forbes, she was involved with a number of projects that delivered financial literacy and awareness. She also advocated for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including in the Do Not Knock campaign and superannuation and funeral insurance products.
Lynda is studying the Diploma of Financial Counselling and has been involved with consultation groups around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander financial literacy, the Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council, Indigenous Financial Services Network, Indigenous Financial Resilience Research Project with First Nations Foundation, Australian Council for International Development and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Financial Literacy Forum, which is now in its 10th year.
Jill has extensive experience in the accounting and finance sector, having worked as a chartered accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers and also having contracted for the Australian Tax Office, Australian Grand Prix and many others. She also worked at the Banking and Financial Services Ombudsman (now the Australian Financial Complaints Authority) for 17 years.
Since starting with FCA at the beginning of 2017, she has been responsible for all of the organisation’s accounting and finance, including payroll, reporting and bookkeeping. Jill enjoys being a part of the lovely team environment and rewarding work of the organisation.
Tamara started working for FCA in 2018 to assist with bookings for the BSWAT Payment Scheme. Her role has expanded to provide support in a number of administrative areas including a day in the life project, the FCA conference and other events.
Tamara went to high school in Jakarta and speaks Indonesian fluently. She studied for a Bachelor of Business and Marketing at Monash University before starting her own businesses in photography and online retail/apparel/jewellery.
Tamara is now studying a diploma of counselling partly driven by her experiences at FCA.
A former professional tennis player, Elizabeth worked as a journalist at The Age for nine years and The Guardian in London for eight years. After returning to Melbourne in 2006 she worked for another 10 years at The Age, including eight years as the Letters Editor, a job she thoroughly enjoyed. Elizabeth retrained as a financial counsellor in 2017 and began working on the National Debt Helpline in October 2017. She began her part time role as the Communications Manager at FCA at the start of 2018.
Elizabeth is motivated by a strong sense of justice and the issues she comes across in her work as a financial counsellor provide constant material for her advocacy work in the media. She also promotes the National Debt Helpline website, writes reports, including the Double Punishment report, and writes guidance notes and other resources to support financial counsellors.
Vanessa is an energetic and skilled evaluator, facilitator and trainer with over 16 years’ experience in a range of contexts. With qualifications in Science, Vanessa has led a range of organisational and community behaviour change programs in sustainability and agriculture. Vanessa was the Evaluation Lead at Sustainability Victoria and is a Director with Roooftop Social, a
Vanessa has a demonstrated track record in building individual and organisational capability for evaluative thinking, integrating training, coaching and mentoring with structural system-level changes to help establish evaluation and outcome-focussed approaches. Vanessa joined FCA in 2016 to assist with project evaluation and strategic planning.
She is passionate about working with people and is known for her use of participatory approaches and creative group facilitation techniques to embed learning and adoption of new ideas.