Debt- Shame, Blame or Action! By Jim

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After not working for 8 months struggling under unmanageable debt is one of the most stressful situations a person can endure.

The stress, worry and anxiety associated with debt can take a devastating toll on families, relationships, and the individual’s health and wellbeing. It can be so overwhelming that it also affects work performance and a person’s capacity to produce income—the very thing which would help that person reduce or get out of debt.

When you feel like your debt has become unmanageable or you simply become tired of always trying to make ends meet, it’s important to take action which will improve your situation. Make the move to get your finances under control, get out of debt and start living again. Getting out of debt demands breaking the debt cycle.

In Australia Financial counselling is a free community service provided by financial counsellors working in non-profit organisations that assist consumers who are experiencing financial problems.

A financial counsellor is a worker who acts without a conflict of interest, as a negotiator and an advocate on behalf of people who are at financial risk.

Financial counsellors, during the counselling process are able to educate and pass on skills to consumers as to their rights and responsibilities when using credit and other marketplace services and empower the consumer through this knowledge.

Financial counselling is a combination of various traditional roles such as; social worker, solicitor and accountant. It is a unique type of service, merging a number of skills into a personalised “counselling” situation. The counsellor treats the concerns of the consumer in a holistic manner, viewing the social and health issues alongside the financial problems and assisting with appropriate referrals.

Financial counsellors have knowledge of para-legal issues however, they are not legally qualified to give advice on legal matters.

Clients attend from all walks of life and are referred from a variety of sources such as; medical, legal centres, voluntary organisations, The Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA, which handles bankrupt estates), employers, rehabilitation services and lending institutions also refer clients to see financial counsellors.

Financial counsellors work closely with community organisations and have a highly developed referral network. Consumers in crisis who require food vouchers, assistance with electricity and water payments, personal counselling for family issues, legal advice and mental health services will be appropriately referred.

Financial counselling goes further than the crisis intervention model, as the role of financial counselling is that of social justice, where the problems of consumers are perceived as social problems. The role of the financial counsellor is to affirm the rights and dignity of the individual. Financial counsellors do not view the individual’s problems in isolation but work towards changing attitudes, laws and institutions so that the individual consumer in society has more equal rights and powers within the market place.

Financial counsellors in New South Wales are accredited with the Financial Counsellors’ Association of NSW Inc (FCAN). There are strict rules as to who may be a financial counsellor, primarily that financial counsellors hold no allegiance to the credit industry and act solely out of interest for the well-being of the consumer. Only financial counsellors who are not funded by, or employed by, credit providers are eligible for membership. Service provision must also be free of charge. Financial counsellors must have successfully completed an accredited training program and continue to attend a specified amount of training each year. Financial counsellors must also have regular supervision from an FCAN accredited supervisor and must be covered by a professional indemnity insurance policy.

As well as supporting and educating the client in various forms, a financial counsellor can provide the following for their clients:

A full assessment of their financial situation, including regular income and expenditure, assets and liabilities.
Information as to entitlements to government forms of assistance.
Information and options for change and improvement.

The ability to negotiate on behalf of the client with credit providers, government agencies and other business providers.
Information on credit laws, the debt recovery process, bankruptcy and other areas of legislation such as superannuation, insurance and harassment to name a few.
Financial counselling is a worthwhile and valuable community service that is able to empower and assist clients to gain control of their lives!

I saw Peter from Anglicare yesterday and he was my Angel. Give then a ring Australians, it's free & although I felt shameful at first I needed help and I am already feeling so much better.

With gratitude and in all humbleness, Jim

Please ring or contact FCAN

1300 914 408

For information about financial counselling or for help with financial matters, contact FCAN.

O Suite 114, 410 Elizabeth Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
T 1300 914 408
F (02) 9212 4481
E admin@fcan.com.au
W http://www.fcan.com.au