INDEPENDENT REVIEW TELLS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO USE INDUSTRY LEVY TO DOUBLE THE NUMBER OF FINANCIAL COUNSELLORS.
3 October 2019
For immediate release
The Financial and Consumer Rights Council (FCRC) today welcomed a report commissioned by the Federal Government in the wake of the Banking Royal Commission. The report, authored by Louise Sylvan AM, makes a number of recommendations to improve access to financial counselling, and address severe demand issues for the “widely valued” sector.
The Countervailing Power: Review of the coordination and funding for financial counselling services across Australia recommends additional funding for financial counselling be sourced through levied industry contributions with a view to doubling the number of financial counsellors from 500 to 1000 FTE positions nationally over the next four years. Financial counsellors assist people in financial hardship to negotiate support from government and creditor organisations, and provide free services without conflicts.
Australian’s access to basic utility services such as energy, banking and telecommunications is now only possible through complex contracts that often include high consumer costs, risk of unfair charging, and lead to increasing indebtedness. These issues were highlighted in the Banking Royal Commission, and in his final report Commissioner Hayne commented on the importance of increasing access to financial counselling as a way to protect consumers. Ms Sylvan’s report follows Commissioner Hayne in highlighting the role of financial counsellors in rebalancing the power between consumers and business.
FCRC’s peak federal body Financial Counselling Australia is participating in a consultative group working with the Government on implementation of the report recommendations.
The following quote is attributable to FCRC Executive Officer Dr Sandy Ross.
“Financial counselling is desperately under-resourced for the enormous demand from the many Australians with debt problems. The boost to the sector from this report is a game-changer for Australians in debt.”
FCRC is the peak body for Financial Counsellors in Victoria.
Financial counsellors provide information, support and advocacy to people in financial difficulty.
Dr Sandy Ross, Executive Officer
Financial and Consumer Rights Council
0417 557 420Email: [email protected]