Financial Counselling Program
Skills development

Financial Counselling Program

From time to time many people find themselves struggling to buy food and pay the rent or mortgage while juggling numerous debts.

South East Community Links & Uniting Vic.Tas
Financial Counselling Program
Oct 2019 - Jun 2021

Partner's profiles

South East Community Links Inc. delivers a wide range of assistance to meet the needs of people in the south east of Melbourne.

Uniting (Victoria and Tasmania) Limited works alongside people of all ages in local communities across Victoria and Tasmania.

Both organisations provide emergency relief, casework, housing support, youth and family support services, financial counselling, resettlement services for refugees and asylum seekers, financial capability assistance and volunteer programs. 

Australia has one of the highest levels of household debt in the world, with an estimated 21% under financial stress and almost 1 million Aussies in mortgage related stress.1

People in these situations often don’t know how or where to get help, with Commissioner Hayne recently noting in his final report of the Royal Commission2 that there is an imbalance of knowledge and power between consumers and financial service entities. People often cannot access solutions or even understand their rights without the assistance of free and independent Financial Counsellors.

Recent studies have identified that financial counselling, such as offered by community agencies like South East Community Links, can significantly help families under financial stress.1

Due to the demand for their services, waiting times can be lengthy and many Financial Counsellors are having to turn away people seeking their help.3

To enable more Australians to get access to these valuable services, our Community Program will be providing funding to Uniting Vic.Tas and South East Community Links. This funding will specifically allow more Financial Counsellors to be on staff, helping more people in financial stress and hardship.

What are Financial Counsellors?

Financial Counsellors have extensive knowledge in a range of areas of law and policy; including consumer credit law, debt enforcement practices, bankruptcy, industry hardship policies and government concession frameworks. 

They work alongside people in financial hardship to provide information, support and advocacy to help them work out a plan to address the situation. They’re also trained in negotiation and counselling and can offer emotional support and a listening ear when people really need it.

Financial Counsellors are based in community organisations throughout Australia, from large charities to smaller community centres, as well as local government agencies.

Financial Counsellors are on occasion confused with financial planners or advisers, but the services provided are quite different. Financial planners and advisers provide advice to people who have money to invest. Financial Counsellors work with people who are in debt or are not able to meet their ongoing expenses.

For more information on how to access financial counselling please refer to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission’s Money Smart website. 

1 Financial Counselling Australia, Annual Report , 17 January 2019.

2 Final Report of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, 1 February 2019.

3 ABC, Financial Counselling Crisis leaves vulnerable borrowers exposed, 7 December 2018.

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