Release of the Government response to the Countervailing Power: Review of the coordination and funding for financial counselling services across Australia
On 25 November 2020, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Social Services, released the Government response to the Countervailing Power: Review of the coordination and funding for financial counselling services across Australia (the Review).
The Review was released on 3 October 2019, and made recommendations to ensure the long-term viability of the financial counselling sector, including the establishment of a nationally coordinated approach, and industry funding to strengthen the predictability and stability of funding for financial counselling.
The Australian Government response to the Sylvan Review sets out its commitment to:
- commence work with state and territory governments and relevant stakeholders on a national approach for the funding and coordination of financial counselling (also relevant to the specialist, RFCS and small business financial counselling sector);
- introduce an industry funding model following consultations with industry and the financial counselling sector that will ensure predictability and stability of funding for generalist financial counselling services into the future. The Government’s preference is to reach agreement between the relevant industries in relation to an overall funding strategy. However, if this agreement is not reached, the Government will consider a compulsory mechanism. Industry contributions would ideally start in 2021-22; and
- support in principle the establishment of an independent body to be responsible for the national cooperative financial counselling effort, including delivery of funding.
The Government will continue to work closely with industry, the financial counselling sector, the states and territories, and other stakeholders.
For further information on the Review, contact FCR@dss.gov.au
Review of the coordination and funding for financial counselling services across Australia
On 1 February 2019, the Commissioner the Honourable Kenneth Madison Hayne AC QC submitted his final report to the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (the Royal Commission) to the Governor General. The Treasurer, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP released the Government’s Response to the Royal Commission on 4 February 2019.
The Australian Government is taking action on all 76 recommendations outlined in the Royal Commission’s Final Report. In addition, the Australian Government committed to additional actions to improve the financial outcomes of Australians, including undertaking an immediate review of the coordination and funding of financial counselling services that disadvantaged Australians rely on.
The Review was led by Ms Louise Sylvan AM, with support from the Department of Social Services, and undertaken in consultation with The Treasury and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
On 3 October 2019, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Social Services, released the final report on the Review of the Coordination and Funding for Financial Counselling Services across Australia (the Review).
The Review noted the benefits of financial counselling to the community, including early intervention and prevention of further financial hardship, advocacy support, and referral to other services for complex issues.
The Review also highlighted the challenges faced by the financial counselling sector, including increasing demand, fragmented delivery, and the array of complex situations and financial products that can lead to financial hardship.
The Review was undertaken in March 2019 and engaged with State and Territory governments, the private and not-for-profit sectors, financial counselling and legal assistance sectors, and relevant Commonwealth agencies.
- Assessed whether existing financial counselling services adequately support clients’ current, emerging or changing needs, including areas such as small business and natural disasters;
- Explored the most efficient and appropriate way to deliver financial counselling services;
- Considered how to improve the coordination and consistency of delivery of financial counselling services across all jurisdictions in Australia;
- Recommended options for improving the predictability and sustainability of funding financial counselling services, including by drawing on successful international funding models and considering options for industry funding; and
- Considered how the use of data can inform policy, service delivery and demand trends.
Issues Paper to guide input for the consultation process
Thank you to all those who contributed to this Review through consultations, surveys and submissions.
For further information on the Review, contact FWC@dss.gov.au.