Financial Counselling Victoria conference: working together

After two years of attending the Financial Counselling Victoria conference online via Zoom, it was a great pleasure in September to be able to take part in the conference in person. 

Financial counselling is part of SSRV’s Integrated Service Project, where SSRV’s community lawyers and in-house financial counsellor work together and with financial counsellors employed by other agencies to improve client outcomes.

It’s an important part of SSRV’s work. Our staff regularly engage with clients who are experiencing a multiple, inter-connected and compounding financial difficulties. 

Over 300 people attended the Financial Counselling Victoria conference, including financial counsellors, as well as various Victorian stakeholders including banks, not for profits, staff from ombudsman schemes, debt collectors, utility providers – all essential to the work of our Integrated Services Project. 

The two-day conference took in key speakers, panel discussions and seminars.

The purpose of SSRV attending the conference was to further promote our integrated legal and financial counselling services. We wanted to learn more about the work others are doing in this sector and what supports they may offer, as well as hear about the financial challenges and difficulties that impact members of our community that may not directly relate to Centrelink.

A particular highlight of the conference was the seminar that SSRV Community Lawyer Dermott Williams delivered on the Disability Support Pension (DSP). 

The seminar ran across two days, with Dermott providing information about the eligibility criteria for the DSP, as well as common challenges and hurdles that our service knows applicants face. She finished the seminar by working through some problems posed by audience members. 

The seminar was very well received, with attendees thanking Dermott and SSRV for the information provided.

Another highlight was simply being able to meet financial counsellors and workers in person, many of whom we had previously spoken to over the telephone. Our long-experienced colleague, Peter Horbury, was able to renew old acquaintances, reminding us of the well-established ties between the financial counselling and welfare rights services in the community.

At the conference, SSRV learnt more about the myriad of financial challenges that community members face, which only reinforced for us the importance of having an integrated service that provides holistic care to clients. 

The conference reminded us of the importance of collaboration in the financial counselling sector, and the need to continue sharing knowledge and resources with other stakeholders. 

Our service strives to help build a social security system that is built on respect, empowerment, quality and integrity and it was very motivating to meet others who also share this goal. We are grateful for the opportunity to attend, to have shared our knowledge and learnt from others.

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