We are very excited to announce that Social Security Rights Victoria Inc. (‘SSRV’) have secured a second year of funding for the Integrated Services Project, a partnership project between SSRV and FCRC.
As many of you will be aware, this Project was launched in late 2018 at the FCRC Conference. Its aim is to explore integrated service between financial counsellors and social security law experts, with a vision of improving client outcomes by bringing the work of these two sectors closer together.
Through the work of this Project, many of you will have met Bryn (SSRV lawyer) and Leanne (SSRV financial counsellor). Working with FCRC, Bryn and Leanne have engaged and undertaken professional development sessions with financial counsellors across the state, including in Horsham, Benalla, Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, as well as inner and outer Melbourne suburbs.
These sessions have not only seen the delivery of up to date training on social security law and related issues, but also allowed SSRV to learn more about the work of financial counsellors and how we can better work together in servicing clients. We are looking forward to undertaking further training in partnership with FCRC, specifically on the following dates and locations:
-17 October in Geelong,
-12 November in Sale,
-26 November in Mildura, and
-3 December in Melbourne
In addition to training and engagement, SSRV lawyers have been undertaking integrated service casework working directly with financial counsellors and community professionals across the state in representing clients whilst appealing Centrelink decisions. We have already seen some fantastic outcomes as a result of this integrated practice, including successful appeals at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
In one such case, SSRV worked closely with a financial counsellor’s client who lived with quadriplegia in a regional town and had $23,000 debt imposed by Centrelink. After providing the referral, the financial counsellor was able to provide on the ground support to the client, including undertaking a financial assessment and drafting a statement of financial circumstances. This was key to SSRV successfully negotiating for the debt to be wiped after going through first tier of the AAT.In response, the client stated:I’m very grateful and appreciative of the support I got, from the financial counsellor and from Bryn. I only have good things to say about the support I received.
As a core part of our integrated approach, SSRV is also continuing to operate our Worker Help Line to assist financial counsellors and other community workers to address social security issues faced by their clients.We enjoyed this response from one very self-deprecating financial counsellor following a Worker Help Line consultation:[The Worker Help Line] assists tired and weary and rapidly deteriorating financial counsellors like me who say, ‘what the hell is going on here?’
So, if you are keen to have a further chat with Bryn or Leanne about the Project and integrated service, about training and how we can work together, or if you have a client with a Centrelink problem, give SSRV a call. The number for the Worker Help Line is (03) 9481 0655 with the line open Monday to Thursday 9am-5pm.
This Project is funded by the Victorian Government Department of Justice and Community Safety with funding administered by the Federation of Community Legal Centres.