Financial counselling is a unique blend of counselling and advocacy delivered within a framework of social justice

It is a free, independent and confidential service available through community organisations and community legal centres. 

A financial counsellor is someone you can trust and who will stand beside you.  They can talk to creditors on your behalf and help negotiate affordable payment plans. Rural financial counsellors are also available for farmers and rural small businesses (see image right, Rural Business Support covers SA and the NT). 

Financial counsellors are skilled and qualified professionals who help people plan their way out of debt

Image courtesy of Rural Business Support

Financial counsellors can look at their client's financial situation and identify which debts are priorities and create a detailed budget customised to each unique financial situation.

With their extensive knowledge of how the credit reporting system works and their client's rights, responsibilities and eligibility under the National Credit Code, they can help their clients apply for a hardship variation and support them to receive their proper entitlements. They can also help their clients understand how they are protected under law and what to do if they are subject to unacceptable behaviour by organisations chasing payment.

Financial counsellors act for their clients who always retain control. They will explain all options but it is up to the client make decisions about how to manage their situation with the advice they've been given.

If their client no longer wants to, or is no longer able to, deal with their creditors, financial counsellors can act as their advocate in negotiations and represent them in dispute and complaint resolution processes.

Financial counsellors are based in not-for-profit social service settings, which enables them to refer their clients to support services for issues such as mental health, domestic and family violence, gambling and substance abuse that the client may also be experiencing.

Roles and responsibilities

Financial counsellors and financial capability workers work closely together, but have a different focus in their roles, explained below. 

Financial counsellors

Target client group

  • Clients experiencing financial difficulty 


  • Predominantly to individuals and families 
  • Community education


  • Provide information, support and advocacy to help clients overcome financial difficulty
  • Identify marketplace problems, which require a broader response (systemic advocacy) 


  • Assesses client’s financial situation, including income and entitlements; whether debts are correct and legally owed
  • Explore options and consequences with the client to address financial difficulty e.g. debt negotiations, waivers, bankruptcy
  • Assistance in completing more complex documentation e.g. statement of affairs, letters to creditors
  • Provide on-going support to the clients

Financial capability workers

Target client group

  • People who want to improve financial literacy skills
  • People recovering from financial difficulty


  • Individual support/mentoring
  • Group education sessions
  • Provide information, financial literacy skills and coaching to help clients make better financial decisions and build financial resilience


  • Delivery of financial literacy education and ongoing support 
  • Ongoing budgeting support to individuals
  • Ongoing support around saving 
  • Generic information about using basic bank accounts and the banking system
  • Give people the skills to access government services, utility or telco hardship programs 
  • Information about consumer rights
  • Referral to financial counselling or other community services 

Boundaries: no go areas that only financial counsellors can work on 

  • Dealing with debts from banks or similar providers
  • Provide advice about bankruptcy or debt recovery 
  • Provide advice about superannuation or insurance products
  • Provide advice about a specific deposit product with a financial institution


15-17 Glynburn Road
Glynde SA 5070