Financial Counselling Australia has today released its annual report.
This year’s report tells a story of why financial counselling is so important. Australia has one of the highest levels of household debt in the world, with an estimated 21% of households in financial stress and nearly 1 million households in mortgage stress. But studies show that financial counselling helps Australians resolve their financial difficulty and relieve their stress levels.
FCA is the voice for the financial counselling profession.
Ensuring financial counsellors are equipped with the knowledge to support people who are vulnerable or disadvantaged remains a big part of our role. FCA rolled out extensive family violence training to ensure financial counsellors had the skills to support people who were affected. Our national conference, held this year in Hobart was the biggest ever and also included a number of professional development sessions.
In 2017, FCA set up a charitable trust called the Financial Counselling Foundation. It has been exciting to see the Foundation making a number of grants to organisations that will also increase access financial counselling. Grants were made to knowmore legal service to employ four financial counsellors who will provide support to survivors of child sex abuse who receive payouts through the National Redress Scheme. Five rural financial counselling agencies in drought-affected areas will receive funding so they can assist small businesses.
The launch of the A Day in the Life project will be a game-changer. The project has attracted politicians and captains of industry and the feedback has been extraordinary.
The work we are doing to improve fairness in the marketplace has started to pay dividends, with legislation recently introduced to stop gambling companies being able to give people credit to gamble. Our advocacy for people in prison continues, with the May launch of the report ‘’Double Punishment’’.
Work also continued on improving the National Debt Helpline website to ensure people who can self-advocate are armed with the resources so they can fight their corner with creditors.
And last but not least the BSWAT program is winding up after nearly three years of operation. Millions of dollars have been repaid to vulnerable workers with a disability, with more than 8,000 participants from around the country. Almost 500 financial counsellors nationwide were involved in the program.