Response to the Review of Financial Wellbeing and Capability programs

This is our response to the Department of Social Services’ (DSS) review of the Financial Wellbeing and Capability (FWC) programs. This submission responds to select questions throughout the discussion paper and regularly cites Consumer Action Law Centre’s (Consumer Action) Cost of Living Snapshot for 2023.

Cost of living Snapshot for 2023
Consumer Action has compiled a snapshot of insights from operating a Victoria-wide telephone financial counselling service during a cost-of-living crisis. As frontline workers who are often the first point of call (or text) for people in financial trouble, we have seen shifts in drivers, demographics and impacts of financial hardship, reflected in the snapshot.

One takeout from the snapshot is that Victorians (and likely Australians) are finding their own ways of getting by – accessing credit, picking up additional work and sacrificing a lot – even essentials – to get by.

Many of these adjustments can only be made one time and can make debt spirals or housing insecurity even more pronounced and difficult to recover from.

Another takeout from the snapshot is the position and value of the NDH operating from a state-wide vantage point in detecting and responding to hardship and getting people the right help when services are struggling with capacity. As outlined in our submission, the financial counselling sector has been the backbone of cost of living support services.

Read the full submission PDF.

2024-01-25 Consumer Action submission to DSS Review of FWC programs
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