9th September 2014 – Financial Counselling Australia congratulates the financial counsellors who received awards as part of MoneySmart Week.

The Salvation Army’s MoneyCare financial counselling service in Newcastle received the highest honour in the community category, with an outstanding achievement award.

Their You’re the Boss program, set up by financial counsellor Kirsten Harnett, is a series of face to face workshops that has now been delivered to over 950 participants in 73 sessions. The program helps participants to develop positive money management habits.  The Salvos partnered with Virgin Money and insurer IAG in delivering the program.

Centacare Catholic Family Services Country South Australia won a highly commended award in the community category for its  Balancing Bunda program, targeted toward Indigenous consumers.  The driving force behind this program is financial counsellor Samantha Forsyth.

This innovative program includes a calendar with art from the Ceduna Art and Culture Centre and financial tips on a selected topic each month such as managing electricity bills, reducing electricity costs, door to door sales, banking, shopping within a budget, low cost recreation, affordable credit, financial counselling, mobile phones and dealing with debt. The My Money budget whiteboard magnet and calculator was provided with the calendar to give consumers a handy budgeting tool.

FCA also congratulates all of the other MoneySmart Award week winners. The awards showcase the many wonderful and varied financial literacy initiatives in Australia.

Financial counsellors are passionate about financial literacy.  Making better financial decisions is something that just about all of us need to think about, whether it be in developing a savings  habit, budgeting or making sure we have adequate insurance.

However, financial counsellors also know financial literacy is only part of the solution. Safe and affordable financial products as well as adequate resources for the regulator are just as vital.  And finally, when things do go wrong – unemployment, illness, relationship breakdown or poverty – access to services such as financial counselling can make the difference between financial recovery and financial oblivion.

Excerpts below are from the comments from the MoneySmart Week award judging panel

Judges Comment re “You’re the Boss”
An excellent and well thought out, targeted program. The Salvation Army works with some of the most disadvantaged groups within the community to provide opportunities to those who would not otherwise have them. It is always positive to see new corporate and community partnerships form to help better the financial literacy levels of others. Part of the program’s success within the community can be credited to how easily accessible the program is to individuals. The judges commend The Salvation Army for the program and look forward to seeing how the program develops over time.

Judges Comment re “Balancing Bunda”
Innovative tools that were created after research and consultation were undertaken in the local Indigenous community identifying a unique social need. It is encouraging to see how this program has and will continue to develop in the future, to address the low financial literacy levels of Indigenous communities in regional South Australia whilst still being culturally appropriate. Both the Balancing Bunda and My Money Budget whiteboard resources create a positive private first experience for the individual, and provide the opportunity for individuals to understand what their next simple steps should be.

Financial counsellors: community-based professionals providing information, support and advocacy for people in financial difficulty.

Anyone who is in financial difficulty can contact a free and independent financial counsellor on 1800 007 007 or visit www.debtselfhelp.org.au

For comment please contact:  Fiona Guthrie 0402 426 835