Normally in our September edition of the DA I would be looking forward to our conference, which was set to be happening in a few weeks. For the second year running, there is a bit of a hole in our calendar, though hope burns eternal that the Conference will be able to happen close to normally in February.
In the meantime, the world keeps turning and financial counsellors continue to see high levels of financial and psychological stress. Something I hear a lot is concern that the lockdown constraints have limited access to financial counselling, and that the hardships from lockdowns without adequate federal supports through JobSeeker and JobKeeper are creating an environment where considerable hardship will crystallise once things open up. Feedback is that financial counsellors, like many others, are struggling with the lockdown and pandemic impacts, and we are doing what we can to provide support. On Tuesday 5 October we are running a special session on Self-Compassion for members, topped off with some meditation, and we will see from the feedback how much more we should do that type of event. Members can click here to register.
Another form of self-care for us all is to keep advocating for changes to systems that are failing people in hardship, especially through our Working Groups. We have made a submission to the Senate Committee enquiring into the Disability Support Pension, and FCVic has been invited to give evidence to the Committee. Thanks to our Centrelink Working Group for their work on this issue.
We continue to work on energy hardship issues, with our Utilities Working Group developing an advocacy agenda around the adequacy and operation of URGs and improving the behaviour of energy retailers. Our Infringements Working Group has led the way on advocacy to improve the operation of the Fines system (especially the Work Development Permits). Gambling Issues Working Group helped us develop and write a submission to the Crown Royal Commission.
This is a quick picture of some of the advocacy work we are doing. I recommend you read our soon to be published Annual Report for a more comprehensive picture of the range of our activities.