Martin Luther King said [paraphrased to remove gendered language], “the ultimate test of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience but where they stand in times of challenge and controversy.” If this is true, I know that historically all of us can stand tall. Both myself and the FCVic Board hope to support you to continue to do so into the future.
Financial counsellors already know about the challenges that exist out there. Those who have been around long enough have seen the reforms our sector has driven. Reforms that when conceived were often considered controversial.
The FCA conference has been postponed. The FCVic history and launch event has been postponed. I am sure that most if not all of you have seen the queues or pictures of the queues at Centrelink; have friends and relatives who have been laid off work or had their hours reduced; know retirees who have had their nest egg diminished by the decline in the stock market. These are dark times, but I am mindful that what we have to offer as a profession is a message of hope.
Due to the tireless work of leaders in our field, governments are starting to really grasp the true value of our profession. This can be seen in the Federal Government’s announcement over the weekend to increase funding to support financial counselling, and in the responses of both State and Federal Governments to the bushfire disaster. FCVic is engaging at a state-level and we hope that the good relationships that have been built with key stakeholders will ensure the valuable role of our sector is recognised in any state-based response.
The way we do things is changing and there are many hurdles. FCVic staff are now working from home. I am writing to you from my kitchen table and some of you are probably reading it there. All of this brings new obstacles and challenges. In spite of this, FCVic and its Board are doing their utmost to support the sector through this difficult time, as well as making sure that any growth does not lead to a diminishing of professional standards.
The Counting the Costs report on financial counsellor stress and work overload was successfully launched. The implementation of recommendations from the report is still being pursued. They say don’t bring your work home with you. This is no longer the case. It is of paramount importance that we maintain a healthy work/life balance especially as we will probably all be working from home for some time to come. Caseloads are of pronounced importance to a healthy workforce and now is the time to focus on our health. The FCVic Board and staff want you all to stay well. Stay well my friends.