Some of the FCVic team were in Cairns this month for the Financial Counselling Australia conference. FCA put together such a jam-packed, diverse line-up of speakers and topics over several days that it was hard to pick some of our favourites:
The conference was kicked off in style by Carl Fourmile from Minjil who welcomed us to Yidinji Country with a phenomenal song- and dance-filled Welcome to Country. The packed auditorium was silent as everyone watched the dancers – a truly special experience.
A highlight from the first morning was hearing from FCVic’s Dr Sandy Ross and FCA’s James Hunt about the great work that financial counsellors and financial capability workers have done, and what is next, in the campaign to #RaiseTheRateForGood. Due to the change in Federal Government (just after the conference!) now is the time to increase pressure on the Government to raise the rate – click here for more information and to add your voice..
The low (and getting functionally lower by the day due to inflation!) social security rate was discussed in so many sessions throughout the conference, and it was said on more than one occasion that raising the rate would benefit the whole Australian society, not just the people receiving it directly. This tied into discussion later in the day, in the talk ‘SOS Only – Digital Inclusion’. Between 10 and 25% of Australians are digitally excluded, kept out by lack of access to hardware or networks, affordability and/or ability. This means millions of people are locked out of digital access, which is needed to function, particularly financially, in today’s world. When people are forced to choose between being able to interact with our increasingly digital world and paying for rent or groceries due to their low social security income, of course they will find themselves digitally excluded. It was also discussed in relation to people impacted by disaster and their subsequent insurance issues, in Fiona Guthrie’s FCA Update and reflected in Sue Fraser’s discussion about how financial counsellors and financial capability workers advocate for systemic change for the people they do not interact with.<
Our congratulations to everyone who was awarded a Jan Pentland Foundation Scholarship and to the split winners of this year’s Jan Pentland Prize – we heard about their great work over dinner and could see the passion and tenacity of both prize winners.
The Day Two SPOTtalks saw several Victorian speakers grace the stage – Rachna Bowman discussing how systems actively exclude users through language and design; Sharon Pask on the gender pay gap; and Peter Harris telling an improbable (yet true!) story. Well done all!
We heard about the upcoming changes to credit reporting and how that will likely pan out for consumers. This links in with a just-published report ‘CREDIT REPORTING & ECONOMIC ABUSE: A practical guideline for financial counsellors and community workers’, written by Julia Davis (Financial Rights NSW) and Carolyn Bond (EARG) that will be of interest to all financial counsellors in navigating the upcoming changes to credit reporting. Click here to read this report.
The underlying message in nearly every session was that financial counsellors and financial capability workers make a huge impact not only on their clients but on the wider community through their advocacy – so we must keep it up! For a relatively small profession we have a tenacious and passionate voice that makes a big change to lives across Australia.
These are just a few of the highlights of the conference! If you attended and wanted to write an in-depth article about a particular session or breakout, or about the conference as a whole, please email FCVic’s Digital Communications Officer: [email protected].