ICAN welcomes Carmen and Conrad to the team!

December 21, 2017

This month, we feature Conrad Dwyer and Carmen Hegarty, the newest staff members to join the ICAN team!

Hi, my name is Carmen Hegarty. I joined the ICAN team on the September 9th, 2017 as a Financial Counselling Support Officer. Before coming to ICAN I have worked in various roles with Centerlink, Medicare, and the Department of Justice. I also completed my Certificate III in Business and Education. For the past two years, I have worked as a “Phlebotomist” – that’s the person who takes your blood at a pathology clinic, so it looks like I will be on the first aid team as well!

I am very new to the financial counselling sector, and I have recently commenced studying with ICAN’s new Registered Training Organisation, ICAN Learn, and will complete a Diploma of Financial Counselling through our Indigenous Financial Counselling Mentorship Program. The Mentorship Program appeals to me because it will equip me with the qualifications to help people deal with their financial issues. I am inspired by the positive stories and outcomes of people who have struggled with their finances, but have found solutions to those problems. For me personally, the idea of helping people who are experiencing financial stress is going to be a challenge, but I am looking forward to the financial journey with ICAN.

And while I am looking forward to helping those in need, please don’t ask me for directions, I had this tourist approach me with directions to buy a gift, and we used to have a shop in Cairns called Zonky Plonky and I was asked by a tourist what the name of that shop was. Unfortunately, I could not remember at the moment and called it Flippy Dickie, which confused the tourist even more! So moral of the story is “don’t ask me about names or directions”!

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Hi! My name is Conrad Dwyer and I am a new Financial Counsellor at ICAN. I have just recently started my Diploma of Financial Counselling through ICAN’s Indigenous Mentorship Program after working for the last few years’ in the financial capability and crisis housing sector. It was in this role that I was able to understand the significant impact financial literacy has on individuals and a family’s ability to provide basic living essentials, housing, transport and education. The cost of living is already difficult enough without then seeing the hardship caused by people getting caught in debt cycles from various lending, rental and sales services. Hence, my enthusiasm for completing the Diploma with ICAN and expanding my professional skills and qualifications so I can actively support the community to make empowered decisions about their finances.

I will also be working with ICAN to service the Palm Island community on a weekly basis, and although I am just starting to get comfortable with the tiny plane ride over, locals have been warm and welcoming of our presence and support with their financial vulnerabilities. I am excited to be a part of the ‘Do Not Knock’ Community initiative that ICAN has assisted in rolling out across remote Indigenous communities and look forward to working with the Palm Island community to increase consumer knowledge and improve financial literacy and stability. The IFCMP has also been a great support for me in this service, as I have been able to learn from Indigenous support workers from across rural and remote Australia about the issues they face in their communities, gain insights into cultural protocols and discuss solutions for various issues I may face.

My work background is in psychology, counselling and community development roles across Far North Queensland, however my family originate from Victoria, New Zealand and Ireland. My last name is actually meant to be O’Dwyer but my great-grandfather decided one day to cut off the ‘O’. Cairns has been my home for the last 6 years with my partner Kadie and our puppy dog Numi, and I do feel very privileged to live and work in such a beautiful part of the world. Most summer weekends you find us at our favourite fresh water swimming holes trying to beat the humidity (even after 6 years I still haven’t acclimatised!).

The team at ICAN have been very welcoming of me into their work family and I am appreciating their support as I find my feet in this new and exciting role. I arrived just as ICAN were celebrating their 10-year anniversary, so I look forward to playing my role hopefully over their next 10!

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With the vision of Empowering Indigenous Consumers, the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network Ltd (ICAN) provides consumer education, advocacy and financial counselling services.

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