The Federal Government is “going further” than just implementing Royal Commissioner Kenneth Hayne’s 76 final recommendations by also conducting an immediate review of financial counselling services.
“While Commissioner Hayne made no recommendation in regard to a review of financial counselling, the Government recognises that it is a vital service used by thousands of Australians every year,” the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, announced in a joint statement with the Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher.
“We are commencing an immediate review that will focus on the coordination and funding of financial counselling services. It will consider gaps and overlaps in current services and the adequacy of appropriate delivery models for future funding.”
The Department of Social Services had committed $64.2 million in funding for financial counselling over 4.5 years, but the services this provided often faced issues with inconsistent and short-term grant-based funding streams, fragmented delivery, and high demand. The review would seek to improve predictability and stability in funding for counselling and consider whether funding sources could be broadened.
“FCA and financial counsellors are delighted that the Government recognises the immediate need for predictable and stable funding of financial counselling,” Financial Counselling Australia chief executive, Fiona Guthrie, said.
“We welcome the review into the capacity of existing services to meet growing demand, as well as the adequacy and source of future funding.”
While Hayne did not make a specific recommendation on financial counselling, he highlighted its importance in his final report, finding that “the desirability of predictable and stable funding for the legal assistance sector and financial counselling services is clear and how this may best be delivered is worthy of careful consideration.”