Jobkeeper and Jobseeker payments have dropped; APRA data in June showed that 1 in 10 loans are in deferrals; the Reserve Bank thinks that unemployment will peak at 10% by the end of the year; there are many zombie businesses out there that are technically insolvent, and worst of all, there seems to be an attitude emerging that the way to support the finance industry is to deregulate it and prime it with bad debts by scrapping responsible lending laws. Things ahead look tough, and for many it will be considerably tougher than it has been for the last six months. Luckily, there are financial counsellors in the world.
I was shocked when I heard about the plans to scrap responsible lending requirements and also water down the proposed next tranche of Small Amount Credit Contract (SACC) reforms. This seemed out of keeping with the zeitgeist. It is at the very least out of keeping with Commissioner Hayne’s report and the lessons of the Banking Royal Commission. The financial counselling peaks will do all they can to stop the national reforms, mindful that this will create only more problems and ostensibly ferment a new financial crisis down the track. The campaign has already begun. I continue to hope that together we can build back from COVID-19 in a manner that leads to a fairer, more economically and socially inclusive society.
This lockdown has been tough. Whilst referrals may have momentarily dropped, in the calm before the storm, working from home has brought with it many new complications, that have slowed down our work practices. Aside from that, lockdown has brought with its increased isolation for us as workers. FCVic has sought to capture these new stresses in a follow up to the Counting the Costs report, but I ask you to be mindful and supportive of the unseen stressors in the community and in your colleagues in this difficult time.
FCVic continues to be busy with the new project work, as well as trying to promote the need for a workforce plan for the sector, rather than the ad hoc “on the run” manner that has historically been the case.
Restrictions are easing again, but not soon enough for us get together for conference. It is a testament to the hard work and flexibility of FCVic and its Board that we will be delivering an electronic AGM and virtual awards night. I encourage you all to join us for these events and I promise to turn my camera off whilst eating.