Preparations for our Conference are proceeding, although the COVID situation means we may be at the mercy of outbreaks, vaccination coverage and other imponderables. We already have 150 registrations, and fingers are crossed that we can come together safely in October. By then it will have been 3 years since our last Melbourne metro conference (and 2 years since our Ballarat conference). Early bird registrations are about to close (closing at 5.30pm today, Friday 30 July), so please get onto registering if you want to access the discounted rate. We are looking forward to the conference providing an opportunity to connect and reflect, learn and share with our sector and key stakeholders – and such opportunities have become significantly more important now than they were pre-COVID.
The Senate is currently enquiring into the Disability Support Pension (DSP), and FCVic has made a submission, along with a range of other organisations. We are advocating for the Government to deliver on the S in DSP, as currently there are many aspects of the DSP that do not provide support to those who need it. The amount of the pension is, while more than the manifestly inadequate Jobseeker, still not sufficient to meet the needs of people who are living with a disability trying to survive on it. Accessing it is too often rendered impossible for people having to ‘prove’ complex medical issues with no resources to pay for necessary medical expertise, and an application process often taking years to complete. Hopefully the Senate process will provide some impetus for much needed improvements in the operation of the DSP.
Lastly, I am excited to advise we have been funded for a further year of work in supporting the development of financial counselling as an aspect of small business wellbeing and support. We have been privileged to work alongside EACH, supporting its development of a financial counselling element for the small business support services, alongside psychosocial and business advisory services. FCVic is developing e-learning modules and other professional development and skills to build capacity for working with small business owners in our sector and working with FCA and other state bodies to integrate this at the national level. Dr Suzy Goldsmith leads this work, and we are especially fortunate to have the expertise of financial counsellors Sandra Blake and Helen Brady contributing to this work. Sandra, Helen and FCVic’s Project Officer Bella Walker have written their reflections on ‘Why small business owners need financial counsellors’, please click here to read this article.