A quote attributed to Chinese philosopher Lau Tzu say “a leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” This quote is apt to describe Fiona Guthrie’s role in the consumer movement over 25 years.
The Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) Board and staff congratulate CEO, Fiona Guthrie, for her Queen’s Birthday Honour – Order of Australia, Member in the General Division. Fiona is a truly worthy recipient of such an award.
Fiona has worked tirelessly to build the financial counselling profession, raise the profile of the sector and increase access to financial counselling for those in the community who are in financial difficulty.
She has lifted the professional practice of financial counselling by facilitating the development of national standards and resources to support the growing profession. FCA’s Chairperson, Carmel Franklin said that “Fiona’s work ethic and commitment to the sector is absolutely unquestionable. She is passionate about the work she is doing. We have watched the financial counselling sector flourish under her leadership.”
During her time as CEO, Fiona has instigated many remarkable projects. One such project is the new debt repayment service, a social enterprise to assist those struggling to pay multiple debts.
Fiona’s vision and drive led to the establishment of the National Debt Helpline (NDH), a free telephone financial counselling service that helps people get help for their debt problems. The NDH self-help website was launched in November 2016.
Fiona has also developed strong relationships within the banking, telecommunications, and utilities industries that have led to the establishment of dedicated industry hardship programs to support people who are experiencing financial stress. It is a credit to Fiona that she has been able to bring together financial counsellors, industry representatives, regulators and government to work collaboratively on projects that will ultimately benefit many Australians.
The Order of Australia Award is fitting recognitition of the valuable work that Fiona has undertaken to support financial counsellors and ultimately improve outcomes for people who are experiencing financial difficulty. In addition to her current role, Fiona has supported and promoted the rights of disadvantaged consumers for at least 25 years, much of this in a voluntary capacity. She is a leader, mentor, change-agent, relationship builder and campaigner.