The ICAN team traveled up to the Northern Peninsula Area (NPA) in early June, to deliver Accidental Financial Counsellor Training to local service providers in the five NPA communities and Thursday Island. The Accidental Financial Counsellor Training is designed for people working within local community organisations whom may be approached with consumer and financial issues identified through their regular client support work.
The training generated local interest, with fifteen attendees from a range of local community organisations, including the Northern Peninsula Area Family and Community Services, the Northern Peninsula Area Women’s Shelter, the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian and ‘My Pathway’ services on Thursday Island. The range of service provision by the participating organisations include: mental health, family & community support, domestic violence services and child-placement and support services. All of the services see clients that have clients who present with some kind of financial stress, the most common one being not enough income to meet essential living needs.
The training introduces ICAN’s financial counselling services to local service providers in remote communities and aims to increase the skill and knowledge of local workers to be able to provide initial face to face support to their clients when they present with financial difficulties. The training covers further topics such as: identifying a client’s financial or consumer problem, referring clients to financial counselling and how to support a client through financial difficulties or crises. Jon O’Mally, ICAN’s Services Manager notes that the training can assist local workers in identifying any financial counselling matters and the referral pathway to ICAN’s services. “The local service providers are being skilled to assist in providing the support necessary to be able to provide financial information and personal information, which can assist the financial counselling process,” he said.
A participant from Bamaga mentioned the value in receiving this kind of training. “It was good timing for the training, because it made us a lot more aware and what to look out for with our clients, such as reading bank statements and identifying payment deductions.”
The training also assisted the workers to identify some of the consumer issues currently affecting their communities. “I’m currently dealing with a client who had been sold a first aid kit where large ongoing payments are being taken out of their pay” said one participant.
The Accidental Financial Counsellor training program is a new direction for ICAN, as the demand for telephone financial counselling for remote Indigenous communities continues to increase. ICAN hopes the training will provide pathways to financial counselling in locations where there is no financial counselling service on the ground, at the same time strengthening its network with local community service providers.