As the peak body for financial counsellors, SAFCA is well placed to identify needs and issues impacting those who are financially vulnerable.
Our board has experience ranging across financial counselling, advocacy, legal, government, management and other sectors. Our staff are members of several advocacy and support groups and committees, and regularly request feedback
from our members regarding issues impacting people who are vulnerable.
SAFCA has identified a range of issues of concern to our sector and to vulnerable and disadvantaged South Australians. With the State election being held on 19 March 2022, we have developed a platform of policy positions across three broad areas.
These positions were guided by our Board, members and Advocacy Advisory Group, which is made up of community service agency managers and legal, policy and advocacy experts; and developed through consultation of our members who work daily with financially vulnerable people.
Since the onset of COVID-19, members have been telling us they are seeing clients with more complex needs associated with mental health, domestic and family violence, gambling and housing stress. They are seeing greater numbers of people experiencing financial hardship through irregular incomes, more unaffordable debt through excessive late fees, and poor industry hardship practices resulting from
unregulated ‘buy now, pay later’ products.
Additionally, they are seeing more people incurring expenses beyond their control, such as mandatory hotel quarantine fees.
With funding from the Department of Human Services, SAFCA implemented a campaign to raise awareness of the National Debt Helpline (NDH) in the months of March to June in 2021. During this time, calls to the NDH from South Australians increased by 25% compared to the same period in 2020.
A survey of SAFCA members indicated that they expect a similar increase in the demand for their services in the next 12 months, as the moratorium on home repossessions come to an end and existing COVID-19 related utility repayment plans will need to be renegotiated to enable the realistic repayment of accrued debts.