Financial Wellbeing and Capability Activity
The Australian Government, in partnership with community organisations, provides support to eligible individuals and families experiencing financial crises and help build financial wellbeing, financial capability, and resilience for vulnerable people and those most at risk of financial and social inclusion and disadvantage. People can acquire budgeting and financial literacy skills to help navigate through debt and learn strategies to better manage their money and become financially independent through the Financial Wellbeing and Capability Activity.
Services include crisis support, broad financial capability building services, financial counselling and access to microfinance and microenterprise products. Services are free, voluntary and confidential and are delivered by community organisations.
Services provided under the Financial Wellbeing and Capability Activity
- Financial Crisis and Material Aid; and
- Financial Counselling, Capability and Resilience
Financial Crisis and Material Aid
Financial Crisis and Material Aid includes the provision of Emergency Relief and Food Relief.
- Emergency Relief – provides immediate financial and/or material support to people in financial crisis.
- Food Relief – increases emergency relief organisations’ access to a cost-effective supply of food items which is provided to people in need across Australia.
Financial Counselling, Capability and Resilience
Financial Counselling, Capability and Resilience supports include financial counselling, financial literacy education, and access to financial services including microfinance products such as low or no interest loans.
Review of the coordination and funding of financial counselling services across Australia
The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (Royal Commission) provided its final report to the Governor-General on 1 February 2019. The Treasurer, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP released the Australian Government’s response to the Royal Commission on 4 February 2019.
The Government is taking action on all 76 recommendations outlined in the Royal Commission’s Final Report. In addition, the Government has committed to additional actions to improve the financial outcomes of Australians. This included undertaking an immediate review of the coordination and funding of financial counselling services that disadvantaged Australians rely on.
On 3 October 2019, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Social Services, released The Countervailing Power: Review of the Coordination and Funding for Financial Counselling Services across Australia. The Government released its response to the review on 25 November 2020.
More information is available at Review of the coordination and funding of financial counselling services across Australia.
Review of Emergency and Food Relief Services
An independent review of Commonwealth Emergency Relief and Food Relief programs was completed in 2022. It included perspectives of funded providers and people accessing services.
The review considered how effectively the current system of Emergency Relief and Food Relief services and funding addressed the needs of clients, particularly in the context of challenges from the coronavirus pandemic and the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires.
The review focused on the interactions between Commonwealth-funded Emergency Relief and Food Relief providers, the on-the-ground delivery of services, and referral arrangements, including the role of referral pathways for clients with multiple needs, to access holistic supports they need to build their long-term financial resilience and wellbeing.
More information is available at Emergency Relief in Australia: A review of the Commonwealth Funded Emergency Relief program.
Indigenous Engagement and Partnerships
All Australian governments are working with First Nations people, their communities, organisations and businesses to implement the National Agreement on Closing the Gap (National Agreement).
The National Agreement is underpinned by the belief that when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a genuine say in the design and delivery of policies, programs and services that affect them, better life outcomes are achieved.
This is an unprecedented shift in the way governments have previously worked to close the gap and is built around four Priority Reforms that are directly informed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- Formal partnerships and shared decision-making
- Building the community controlled sector
- Transforming government organisations and;
- Shared access to data and information at a regional level.
These reforms are central to the National Agreement and the department encourages providers to work towards embedding the Priority Reforms into the way services are designed and delivered to demonstrate an active role in contributing to the Closing the Gap targets. This includes considering how to engage in genuine partnerships with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and local First Nations communities. Service providers are required to ensure their services are culturally safe and responsive to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Department of Social Services’ contribution to this includes:
- leading three socio-economic targets under the Closing the Gap policy
- Outcome 9a – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people secure appropriate, affordable housing
- Outcome 12 - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are not
- over-represented in the child protection system
- Outcome 13 - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and households are safe
- working with Commonwealth agencies to include targeted actions in their response to Closing the Gap, to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, and
- building capacity in Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) funded by the department.
The department is committed to supporting Indigenous-led organisations delivering services, and recognises the role these organisations play in improving financial wellbeing outcomes for First Nations Australians.
The department is working to embed the Closing the Gap Priority Reforms into the design and delivery of FWC programs, and will consider these reforms in the context of future grant rounds.
Many organisations funded under the FWC Activity have Reconciliation Action Plans in place. The department encourages organisations funded under the FWC Activity to provide a copy of their Reconciliation Action Plan (or equivalent) to their Funding Arrangement Manager.
These plans demonstrate organisations' commitment to Indigenous client service delivery and provide evidence to support the Closing the Gap commitments.