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 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 has completed 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.
Dip Community Services (Financial Counselling) Dip Business Management
Julie is a passionate Consumer Advocate and experienced Financial Counsellor specializing in Family Violence with a lens on economic abuse. She has strong leadership skills and a passion to ensure the growth and sustainability of financial counselling into the future to ensure access for people experiencing financial hardship.
Julie was successful in advocating to the State Government for implementation of instalment payments for vehicle registrations in Victoria (announced and implemented in January 2018).
Julie represented Financial Counselling Australia on the ASIC Consumer Advisory Panel (2018-2020). She currently sits on the Advisory Group, Preventing Financial Abuse of Women, for the Office for Women, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet as part of the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.
Julie was the former Chair of the Financial Counselling Victoria Board (2016-2019) joining the Board as Treasurer in September 2015 during which time she served as Victorian State Representative on the Financial Counselling Australia Representative Council.
Jenny has been working with Financial Counselling Australia on a range of strategic projects since late 2018, particularly those aimed at building the capacity and capability of the financial counselling sector and in ensuring it is adequately funded on a sustainable basis.
Jenny has had a long career in senior executive roles in Commonwealth and State public sector agencies and at the Financial Ombudsman Service. She has deep experience as a strategy and commercial senior executive having led and implemented significant funding, organisational structure, workforce planning and policy and governance reviews across a range of organisations.
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 has completed a diploma of counselling and is now studying a bachelor of counselling, driven by her experiences at FCA and her passion for helping others.
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, where she works to help people use evidence to plan their work and measure their impact.
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.
Peter joined FCA in February 2020 in a national coordination role for bushfire recovery financial counselling.
Prior to this, Peter worked as a consultant for three years. He was involved with Knowmore Legal Service on the National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. Peter also undertook project roles with the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network, YFS Logan City and Anglicare East Arnhem.
Peter is a director of the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria (EWOV) and is Independent Chair of the Consumer Advisory Panel at Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).
Formerly, Peter was Executive Officer of Financial Counselling Victoria, the peak body for financial counsellors in Victoria, from 2010-2017.
Paul has worked with financial counsellors since 1999, spending many years working as a consumer lawyer at Credit Helpline Victoria and the Consumer Credit Legal Service. Paul also worked as Director – Legal Practice of the Consumer Action Law Centre and as a Senior Associate in the class actions department of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. Paul was also Maurice Blackburn Lawyers’ National Head of Innovation. Paul is a talented musician who writes and sings his own music.
Maura joined Financial Counselling Australia in April 2020 as the Director of Community Engagement for the National Debt Helpline. She is also responsible for communications and media for FCA.
Maura’s aim is to raise the profile of financial counselling in Australia and central to this is making it easier for those in financial hardship to find a financial counsellor so they can get back on track.
Maura has almost 30 years experience in media and communications. For the past nine years she managed her own media training and communications business. Maura has managed some key national campaigns as well as media and communications planning, development and strategy for Government and private organisations. She has also trained executives and spokespeople from a wide range of national organisations in how to talk to media. Maura has worked in newsrooms across Australia and overseas. She is a former chief-of-staff for ABC in Melbourne and senior radio producer with 774.
Sally joined Financial Counselling Australia in July 2020 to manage a number of projects related to increasing the number of financial counsellors in the sector.
Most recently Sally has been working for Share the Dignity, improving the quality of data and onboarding new volunteers. Prior to this she worked for 5 years at Good Shepherd Microfinance as the Microfinance Quality Manager for the No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS).
Sally has had the opportunity to live in California where she worked for the American Red Cross coordinating local disaster activities. She also became involved in several microfinance organisations and is passionate about financial inclusion and financial literacy.
Georgia Lenton - Williams
Georgia joined FCA in 2019 as part of the annual conference team. Since then, her role has expanded to include the execution of communications campaigns for both FCA and the National Debt Helpline, as well as managing social media content and maintaining media relations.
Georgia holds a Masters of Global Media Communication from the University of Melbourne and a B.A. with majors in Media and Communications and History. She has previously worked with the Australian Women’s Weekly magazine, Beat magazine and Arize Communications.
She enjoys working at FCA because the work contributes positively to the lives of other people. Georgia enjoys the challenge of communicating complex yet important messages and is always looking for the best way to phrase an idea or story.
The work Charlotte does at Financial Counselling Australia is varied as she works across several projects at any time. Charlotte has a background in Science and Public Health and has a Bachelor in Science from the University of Melbourne. Currently Charlotte is completing her honours thesis focusing on Population Health in Low and Middle Income Countries.
During the COVID19 crisis Charlotte feels it has been rewarding to know her work is contributing to supporting communities through this incredibly tough time.
In her spare time she leads a pretty active life. Charlotte loves to cycle, do yoga and take hikes when possible.