On 4 February 2020, Dr Grant Blashki, chief clinical advisor for Beyond Blue, launched FCVic’s report Counting the Costs. The report draws on comprehensive research identifying just how widespread the levels of stress are for financial counsellors in Victoria, and identifies recommendations to the various system stakeholders to help manage the risks posed by heavy and unrelenting demand from crisis casework. FCVic is sending the report to agencies and funding bodies with correspondence inviting their consideration of its recommendations, and we look forward to further dialogue about these issues. They are complex and the demand drivers are not going away, but this just emphasises how important it is to protect financial counsellors from the risks posed by the situation.
Our colleagues in other states have been very interested to see the work we have done in this space, and the Financial Counsellors’ Association of NSW (FCAN) last year undertook a survey, adapted from our instrument and using the same researcher to ensure it would be possible to compare the data. They will be publishing this work soon.
Speaking of launches, on 16 March we will be formally launching our new name, along with a 40 year history of the organisation. All members and associated stakeholders are welcome to attend, and you can register to attend here.
We are also excited to announce that we have been awarded a Statewide Carers partnership grant, through Department of Health and Human Services. The grant is for $730,000 over three years, and will involve developing financial counselling and financial literacy awareness and service delivery models with carer groups in Victoria, in collaboration with Carers Victoria as their peak body. This is an exciting opportunity to develop not only a wider awareness of financial counselling, and also training and development that will help FCs to work effectively with carer clients, but to develop an evidence base about the impacts from a boosted financial counselling engagement with the carers sector.
Alongside these developments, we have continued to work on supporting the sector in responding to the bushfire devastation in the East Gippsland and Upper Murray regions. Bev Kliger (along with her colleague Meredith Carter) and Annette Lumsden have been doing the leg work in this area for FCVic over the last month, but it is important to acknowledge the hard work and demands on front line financial counsellors and their agencies, which will only be increasing as demand for assistance picks up in the affected areas.
Lastly, I want to thank Kate Meakin, my executive assistant for the last 6 months. Kate has an opportunity to undertake a masters in her field, along with teaching work so is leaving us. She has been a valued member of our team, and it would have been great to have her for longer, but sometimes when opportunity knocks people have to go to the next thing. We wish her all the best in her future endeavours.