The Jan Pentland scholarships are awarded annually, at the Jan Pentland Foundation dinner. This is held in May of each year in conjunction with the annual financial counselling conference.
The scholarship provides financial assistance to individuals who are undertaking study or are intending to undertake study in financial counselling.
For the 2023 scholarship round, the Foundation encouraged applicants from rural or remote areas (or who would be willing to move to a rural or remote area). This is because there are still shortages of financial counsellors in rural and remote areas.
In recent years, the Foundation has been able to provide more scholarships than previously. This has largely been made possible because of a donation of $50,000 per annum from the Commonwealth Bank (for 2017-2026). Other scholarships in previous years were funded by the NSW Government (Minister for Women), Credit Corp and staff at the Australian Financial Complaints Authority. In 2023, thanks to donations from CARE Financial Counselling Service and David Tennant, one scholarship was awarded in memory of Elizabeth Grant, who was the Chair of CARE for 30 years.
The 2023 scholarship round has now closed. The 2024 round will open around February 2024.
"To look is one thing. To see what you look at is another. To understand what you see is a third. To learn from what you understand is something else. But to act on what you learn is all that really matters."
It is believed this quote had a special significance for Jan and it describes how she lived her life. It may also be the advice she might probably have passed to the scholarship winners.
Caitlin Brindley loves numbers and has worked in finance and accounting roles for more than 10 years. But she feels as if that work has always lacked a human connection and the sense that she is having a meaningful impact. Financial counselling would combine the two worlds that she is passionate about – numbers and creating positive outcomes in people’s lives. “I believe I can make a strong contribution to the industry, having a background in finance,” she says. “I have a strong desire to help people and believe I currently possess, or have the ability to obtain, the skills which will enable me to advocate for people.”
A procession of health setbacks in 2022 prompted Rochelle to rethink her career, after 23 years in accountancy and financial advice. Some sessions with a career coach pointer her to financial counselling which would combine her financial acumen with her core values, drive and sense of purpose. She firmly believes that quality financial information should be available to all, not just those who can afford it. “In all my years in professional service firms, I see the gap [between rich and poor] getting wider … a source of concern for me. Hence my strong interest in financial counselling, to make financial information and empowerment accessible to all, not just the wealthy.”
Yasmin has a long history of helping people with their finances. In the 1990s, she volunteered with SPARK sole parents agency; she manages her mother’s money as well as advocating on her behalf with government agencies and financial institutions; and, in her current role with the SA Housing Authority, deals with many clients grappling with financial hardship. The mother-of-one from Adelaide also has qualifications in Peer Counselling and has a Certificate IV in Community Service Work, specialised in family support. She says combining these skills with her passion for helping people manage their finances would provide her with a great “sense of self accomplishment”.
In her role at Good Shepherd working with women, migrants, the elderly, First Nations people, refugees, people with disabilities, students and single parents, and through her work in Darwin with migrant and refugee groups, Clarice has come to understand the particular pressures and challenges that these groups face. With a Masters of Accounting, Clarice believes she is well placed to help these groups, particularly in explaining how No-Interest Loans can positively impact the life of vulnerable people. “By working where I am now, it has made me want to expand my skills to assist communities and vulnerable people, helping them to reduce the risk of financial hardship.”
Maggie has living in the Northern Territory for the past six years, and since August 2022 working as a full-time Financial Capability Worker with Lutheran Care. She works daily with financial counsellors operating in 28 different communities across the Central Desert Region, so has witnessed the benefit of counselling, capability and literacy work in remote communities – something she feels fortunate to be part of. Maggie has a particular interest in financial hardship arising from family violence and would ultimately like to return to her home in rural Victoria “to assist those in rural and remote farming communities that don’t have easy access to financial counselling and its many services”.
David has an impressive track record of working on behalf of the disempowered, having advocated for Yolngu people who were victims of unscrupulous vehicle sales and recently facilitated an alleged case of stolen wages to Fairwork Australia for an Indigenous retail employee. His experience with a diverse range of financially vulnerable groups with the Arnhem Land Progress Association and CatholicCareNT have motivated him to qualify as a financial counsellor. “I have already invested many years of my life into community services and I believe financial counselling is the direction that allows me to express my strengths and passions to work with those in financial hardship.”
Barbara not only brings 35 years’ experience in the finance industry in the retail banking, small business and commercial sectors to the role of financial counsellor, but also deep personal challenges that saw her hit “rock bottom”. Barbara says she wants to combine those skills and that life experience to help people experiencing financial hardship. The Adelaide-based mother says this has instilled her with a passion “to provide people with strength, knowledge and advocacy without cost, help minimise future financial problems, highlight human strength and worth, unearth their hidden talents, help a person to strive forward and make a strong contribution to society independently.”
After 15 years in a variety of roles in the banking and financial planning sectors, Amita three years ago embarked on a degree in counselling. She has since recognised the value of adding a Diploma of Financial Counselling to her arsenal, effectively combining two of her passions – finance and advocating for the disenfranchised. Brisbane-based Amita is currently working part time as a seniors financial protection service counsellor in the elder abuse program at Relationships Australia. She sees the Diploma of Financial Counselling as a means of enhancing to her skill set and providing an even better service to her clients at Relationships Australia.
A qualified chartered accountant with a Masters of Economics and a Bachelor of Business and Commerce, Diana Porta last year decided to devote her considerable talents to the not-for-profit sector, joining the Salvation Army’s Moneycare team as an intake officer. Sydney-based Diana now wants to take it a step further by retraining as a financial counsellor, which she sees as a great fit for her skill set. “I have always had an interest in personal finance and always been good with numbers and relationships.” Diana says she would ultimately also like to advocate for change to regulations and systems to help reduce financial hardship.
Shay-Anne was recently tagged on Facebook about a traineeship opportunity with ICAN, asking if she knew of anyone suitable. After researching what a financial counsellor does, she thought: “Why did I not know about financial counselling when I was going through my own hardship? I’m definitely giving this a go.” Before that, Shay-Anne worked in hospitality and as a support worker in disability, mental health and aged care. “I hope that by sharing the knowledge I am gaining in financial counselling and using that to help people in my community who may be experiencing hardship, it’ll be just as rewarding as my time as a support worker.”
Elias Simon is currently a money management worker with HK Training and Consultancy in Darwin, where he works under the supervision of a financial counsellor. In the course of his work, he has seen many people who need counselling but, due to the shortage of financial counsellors, continue to experience financial hardship. This has motivated Elias to take the further step to becoming a qualified financial counsellor “so I can contribute to the community and help people in hard financial situations live a healthy and happy life”. Elias plans to apply a strategic approach to counselling that will get to the root of people’s hardship.
Diane (Tang) Choo
Aunty Joy Reid
Alicia Nax Sara O’Neill