Designing for financial capability: reflections from our workshop with financial counsellors

We recently held a financial capability focus group in Melbourne. We discussed ideas and gathered feedback from Financial Counsellors on how we can better support people in financial difficulty.

3 min read

As a proud partner of the Australian Government’s National Financial Capability Strategy, we are committed to helping Australians make informed financial decisions.

We recently held a financial capability focus group in Melbourne, following the success of our first focus group in Adelaide earlier this year. We’d like to thank all the financial counsellors who came along and shared their expertise.

We shared some of the initiatives we’ve delivered recently. We also discussed future efforts we could collaborate on.

Feedback and testing from the focus group highlighted many insights that we are keen to work through to continue to improve our services.

Highlighting consequences and busting bankruptcy myths

The new bankruptcy case studies provide more tailored information to help people understand options and consequences relevant to their circumstance. The ‘busting bankruptcy myths’ campaign shared on LinkedIn and Twitter helps challenge misunderstandings about bankruptcy and reduce stigma.

We heard that it would be helpful for future case studies and myths to highlight:

  • Bankruptcy can provide a fresh start and give people a chance to rebuild their financial foundations (e.g. it’s possible to buy a house or get credit down the track).
  • Applying for bankruptcy through AFSA is free, and support services like financial counsellors offer free advice to help people before they make a decision.
  • Some debts are covered by bankruptcy and some debts will still need to be paid.
  • All debts must be listed on the application form (including debts owed to family/friends) and forgotten debts can be added later.

Online interactive tools

The income contributions calculator helps people check if they are likely to have to make payments during bankruptcy and estimate how much these would be. Currently it calculates based on annual net salary. In response to feedback we will now include the option to input fortnightly after tax income to make it easier for clients to use.

The insolvency eligibility tool helps people see what formal options are available to them, based on key criteria. We have heard it would be beneficial to make it clearer that the tool only shows possible eligibility, as it doesn’t provide advice on suitability of options. We will add further support information to ensure that clients know where to go to get help. We will also highlight that financial counsellors can help offer advice based on their individual circumstances before making a decision.

Financial counsellors play a crucial role in ensuring vulnerable Australians have access to free support and trusted advice. We look forward to continuing to work together to support people in financial hardship.