As Victoria comes out of lockdown (and here’s hoping we don’t ever have to go back) we are starting to see the first signs of increasing demand for financial counselling. This seems to be related to the cuts to JobSeeker and JobKeeper in late September. Unfortunately the Federal Government seems determined to maximise the stress and uncertainty for those struggling to survive on JobSeeker by refusing to announce its intentions on increasing the base rate until close to Xmas. It is a shame the Treasurer’s apparent concerns about people being put under mental health strain only go as far as the impacts of lockdown on business. People forced to rely on JobSeeker need dignity and security to protect their mental health and this can only come from an adequate rate and respectful and timely government information.
Last month FCVic surveyed financial counsellors about the impacts of COVID-19 on their work. Just under 100 financial counsellors sent in responses, rich in thoughtful and detailed comments. We will be producing a report on the findings, but it is already clear from the responses that financial counsellors are finding case work more time consuming and complicated to manage while socially isolated.
Meanwhile, FCVic has been running a series of industry sector engagements on financial hardship. This issue includes a report on the first of these, with the banking sector. Following issues will have reports on hardship forums with energy and telecommunication industry sectors. We look forward to continued collaboration with these key stakeholders.