(The Australian Financial Counselling and Credit Reform Association (AFCCRA) has since changed its name to Financial Counselling Australia.)
AFCCRA was set up in 1984 and is the peak body for financial counsellors in Australia. It is a federation of eight members made up of a financial counselling organisation from each of the states and territories. Each state or territory elects one person to AFCCRA Council. Where there is no formal association, the AFCCRA member respresents a network of financial counsellors.
AFCCRA lost its peak body funding in 1996, when the federal government changed. AFCCRA was at a low ebb, its Canberra office was closed, and staff had to find other employment. AFCCRA was re-funded again in mid 2009 by the current federal government. During the time without funding, AFCCRA continued to exist because of the efforts of its Council, whose voluntary contribution was enormous.
Jan joined AFCCRA Council in 1999 and remained on the executive until her death. She was Chair for almost all of that time (with the exception of 2005-06 and 2006-07 when David Tennant took the role, with Jan as Deputy Chair).
Jan wrote that in recent years, AFCCRA's role as the national peak body focused on raising the profile of financial counselling, enhancing the professionalism of the sector, facilitating communication between financial counsellors, lobbying for increased funding and advocating for the fair treatment of low income, vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers.
There have been a number of gains in the financial counselling field in recent years. Jan drove many of these (although she would want us to also acknowledge the significant contribution of her fellow AFCCRA Council members). Some recent successes, with the help of government in many of them, include:
Doubling of Funding for the Ccommonwealth Financial Counselling Program in the 2008 budget from $2.5 million per year to $5 million per year. This was the first funding increase since the CFCP was introduced in 1990.
Employment of 50 new financial counsellors around Australia in response to the 2009 global financial crisis.
A national diploma to ensure that professional standards are consistent around Australia. The development of AFCCRA’s Reconciliation Action Plan. AFCCRA was one of the first organisations to have such a plan.
The establishment of the Financial Counselling Foundation in 2017. The purpose of the Foundation is to provide grants for projects that will build the capacity of the Australian financial counselling sector, and contribute towards the sector’s long-term sustainability.
Involvement in numerous policy campaigns, particularly those relating to bankruptcy, debt collection and the regulation of credit.
The re-funding of AFCCRA as a peak body.
Read what Jan wrote after the announcement of the doubling of the Federal Government funding, where she explains some of the behind the scenes work that led to this ‘overnight success’.