Over the weekend, Victorians had their say, queuing up across the state to cast their votes for the 2022 Victorian state election. While some votes are still being counted, it was a very clear win for the Labor Party and for Daniel Andrews to lead in his third term as Premier for our state. While we await to see what changes if any occur in the party, we look forward to continuing our work with the Victorian Government and will continue to advocate for a review of the Victorian financial counselling sector to devise strategies, sustainable pathways for growth, and develop clear plans for the future to better enable us to meet community’s needs.
In the last two weeks, FCVic became aware that RMIT decided to cease offering the Diploma of Financial Counselling from next year. We reached out to RMIT; as a result, a meeting was held last Thursday, 24 November, as there had been no consultations with us or any other organisations in the sector to understand the reasonings that led to this decision. This meeting reconfirmed the challenges we have been aware of and voicing our concerns with over the last few years; challenges with student placements; employment prospects; and lack of enrolments. The decisions made by RMIT is another example of how vulnerable we are as a sector to problems with finding a path to sustainable growth. While RMIT have agreed to keep working with us going forward, we need a clear and long-term planned approach to these issues.
At present, what we have is, at best, disjointed and, at worst, just not working. Agencies, especially in regional areas, often have trouble filling vacant financial counsellor positions; disasters highlight the challenges in recruiting to the local areas most in need; challenges with new graduates receiving adequate support and supervision from experienced financial counsellors, or simply being thrown into roles best suited to senior, experienced financial counsellors. We need more graduates coming through, but there are often insufficient placements available for all students and challenges in the new graduate cohort all seeking employment. Losing a key Victorian RTO from the mix makes vulnerability to these problems worse. We will continue to advocate for our profession – we need to reach a critical mass in size to be capable of training and supporting students in placement and graduate years, and manage expansion to meet community needs.
All these issues have a strong intersect with how our industry is funded. The Federal Department of Social Services (DSS) has issued a Discussion Paper about proposals for Industry Funding for the financial counselling sector. This paper can be accessed here and comments on it are open until 16 December 2022. In the paper, DSS has scheduled some dates for roundtable consultations about these proposals. Three roundtables are open for participation from financial counsellors and sector agencies scheduled for 30 November, 1 December and 5 December – please click these dates to access more information. We encourage participation in these roundtable discussions if you can make it any of the date. FCVic is planning to make a submission in response to the Discussion Paper, and we also would welcome any input and comments from our members or stakeholders for this. Please feel free to email us at [email protected] with any comments or questions.
And, finally, this is the last Devil’s Advocate for 2022 as we do not publish in December – it’s a bumper issue, so please take your time reading through it all. We will be back in late January 2023 with Issue 307 – if you have anything you would like to contribute to the Devil’s Advocate or our member newsletter, The Gazette, please email our Communications Coordinator, Sooz Boag on [email protected].
We wish you all a safe and happy end to the year and a Happy New Year for 2023!