Category: News

CBA partnership provides new Diploma opportunities for Indigenous Service Providers

ICAN’s long-standing partnership with CBA has facilitated the education of approximately 45 Indigenous Australians to become financial counsellors over the last 6 years. Many of these graduates are now in leadership and formative positions across the country.  

In 2017 ICAN Learn was formed to ensure that the empowerment of Indigenous people could continue by increasing the number of Indigenous financial counsellors across Australia through the Indigenous Financial Counselling Scholarship Program.  ICAN Learn and CBA partnering for this initiative has cemented our mentorship approach and allowed us to explore different training methods and opportunities.  

Every person who undertakes the Indigenous Financial Counselling Scholarship Program in 2021 will commence the program with the Financial Literacy Education Skillset [CHCSS00077], which is required to work in financial capability roles.  Fourteen Indigenous participants in the 2017 cohort gained this skillset before embarking on the Diploma of Financial Counselling.

CBA’s funding not only adds to the pool of new financial counsellors in places like Derby, Normanton, Cairns, Port Augusta and regional Victoria but also provides the opportunity to add financial literacy skills to people and organisations across Australia, an approach that could not occur in a fee for service environment.  Seizing the opportunity, ICAN Learn has increased employment opportunities for all participants, with graduates being able to be employed as both financial capability workers and financial counsellors.  

‘We had the opportunity, through our partnership with CBA to really make a difference’, said Bernadette Pasco, Business and Workforce Development Manager for ICAN and ICAN Learn. ‘We’ve been able to ensure that graduates could work across the financial wellbeing industry, and with CBA’s support, we have been able to make that possible.’

2021 will be no exception! CBA’s partnership with ICAN and ICAN Learn is taking new heights by reaching out to Indigenous service providers to take part in our scholarship program and make a difference in their organisations, and for the communities they serve.  

We’re focusing on service providers this time around,‘, said Bernadette, ‘that way the partnership provides opportunities for organisations to build expertise in financial capability and financial counselling to expand their service offerings.’  

ICAN Learn is taking expressions of interest now for the Indigenous Financial Counselling Scholarship Program in 2021! Email and register your interest. Course commencement is late February 2021.  

Watch our full ‘Empowering Community Services’ webinar series here

ICAN Learn has uploaded its three-part Ergon Retail and Powerlink Queensland sponsored ‘Empowering Community Services’ webinar series and is about to embark on the partnerships Diploma of Financial Counselling Scholarship Program in early November. If you missed any of the three-part webinar series, you can watch them all here. The series has a focus on the professional development of Queensland’s regional community services, so they can best support their clients in financial hardship and advocate for their energy needs.

Webinar 1 – Introducing the Ergon/Powerlink Diploma of Financial Counselling scholarship program 

Webinar 2 – Energy Savings and Hardship Strategies, an Interview and Q&A with Chris Samuelsson, Vulnerable Customer Manager, Ergon Energy Retail. The second webinar in the three part “Empowering Community Services” webinar series.

Webinar 3 – Energy Consumer with the Energy and Water Ombudsman of Queensland (EWOQ), an Interview and Q&A with Jane Pires, Energy and Water Ombudsman of Queensland (EWOQ) and Lucy Core, Investigation and Conciliation Officer (EWOQ), in the final webinar of the three part “Empowering Community Services” webinar series.

Register now for our latest Ergon/Powerlink webinars

Don’t miss these fantastic Professional Development opportunities!

Are you a Community Service Provider or Financial Counsellor in Queensland, whose clients present with energy hardship issues?

Then you need to register now for our Professional Development Webinars!

When you Register for Webinars 2 and 3 of our ‘Empowering Community Services’ series, you will learn how to:

✅ support your clients dealing with financial hardship
✅ navigate financial hardship supports available from Ergon Energy Retail
✅ advocate for your client’s energy issues
✅ give tips for managing energy usage and energy costs

Our live interviews with Queensland Energy Leaders will also include Q&A sessions at the end of each webinar where you get to ask the questions via chat!

Don’t miss out on these fantastic professional development opportunities!

👉 Register here for Webinar 2 – Energy Savings and Hardship Strategies with Ergon, to hear from Christine Samuelsson, Ergon Energy Retail’s Vulnerable Customer Manager

👉 Register here for Webinar 3 – Energy Consumer with the Energy and Water Ombudsman of Queensland (EWOQ), Jane Pires 

Meet our new RTO Manager, Rebecca Richards

Welcome to ICAN Learn, Rebecca!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you came to join ICAN Learn?

I’m originally from Brisbane and moved to Cairns 6 years ago as I love the relaxed lifestyle up here.  I have 12 years’ experience working in the training industry, in registered training organisations and also corporate organisations.  I started with ICAN Learn 5 months ago when I saw an opportunity had opened up to join the team and haven’t looked back!

What does a day in the life of an RTO Manager bring?

It is rewarding but also challenging work when dealing with compliance on a daily basis.  I enjoy the interaction with the students and being able to follow their learning journey. 

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Working with an awesome team! I love coming to the office every day and working with our dedicated ICAN Learn teaching and administration staff to support the learning of our students and seeing them become qualified financial counsellors.

COVID-19 has changed all of our lives; how has the pandemic changed the learning environment?

We have had to alter the way we deliver our training to ensure our students’ learning is not delayed due to the unexpected changes of COVID-19.  We offer smaller and more regular group online Zoom classes and our teachers work very closely with our students to provide individual and group support.  Our students have risen to the challenge of moving to online learning and like the fact they can still engage with our teachers and interact with other students in the classes. 

What’s on your wish list for the next 12 months?

To be able to travel the country freely when COVID-19 restrictions have lifted and meet the rest of our staff face-to-face, some of whom are experiencing the challenges of working and living in lockdown.

I am also excited about working with our team to grow ICAN Learn as we continue to provide high quality, industry focussed training to our students and the financial counselling sector.

Where are we likely to find you when the weekend hits?

Spending time with my husband and our dog – you’ll normally find us out four-wheel-driving, camping and exploring beautiful Far North Queensland! 

Just in case you missed it!

Webinar 1 – Introducing the Ergon/Powerlink Diploma of Financial Counselling Scholarship Program

If you live in Regional Queensland and are interested in becoming a financial counsellor, please check out Webinar 1 ‘Introducing the Ergon/Powerlink Diploma of Financial Counselling Scholarship Program’. As discussed in the webinar, you can now access application information and forms here , applications close Friday 11 September.

You can also register for the following two webinars in the Ergon/Powerlink sponsored ‘Empowering Community Services’ series. please got to the following links, Register here: Webinar 2 – Energy Savings and Hardship Strategies with Ergon and Register here: Webinar 3 – Energy Consumer with the Energy and Water Ombudsman of Queensland (EWOQ).

Powerful partnership to help regional Queenslanders

Access the Scholarship application forms here

Regional Queenslanders will have greater access to financial support to help respond to COVID-19 impacts with a new partnership agreement between Ergon Energy Retail, as part of Energy Queensland, Powerlink Queensland and ICAN Learn.

The $80,000 partnership program will offer seven fully paid financial counselling scholarships over a two-year period to be delivered by Cairns-based registered training organisation, ICAN Learn.  

The program will also deliver energy literacy and efficiency learning webinars to help community organisations better help customers struggling to navigate electricity costs.

ICAN Learn CEO Aaron Davis said for many communities and households around the state, the impacts of the pandemic would be felt for a long time to come.

“We’re pleased to be involved in this regional response to the ongoing financial impacts of COVID-19. When government, industry and the community sectors work together, we can maximise impact. Through the use of video conferencing technology, we’re hoping to reach communities that have limited access to services,” Mr Davis said. 

Energy Queensland CEO Rod Duke said it was important to support the community services sector, as they’re on the frontline assisting Queensland households. 

“We are committed to improving energy literacy for our customers across regional Queensland, which is why we are excited to support ICAN Learn in building the financial counselling capacity through our scholarship program. 

“Our aim is to ensure that even our most remote customers have access to the information and services they need,” Mr Duke said.

Powerlink Chief Executive Paul Simshauser said an important part of the process was seeking advice from key consumer groups on what support could be offered to customers in financial crisis because of the pandemic.  

“Their overwhelming feedback was that the most difficult part for a lot of families was still to come, so getting more trained people on the ground to provide support was critical,” Mr Simshauser said. 

“We’re so pleased to be delivering this program in partnership with Ergon Energy Retail and ICAN Learn, and in regional areas across Queensland.”

Applications open on August 10, with a webinar held on August 12 to outline further details of the scholarships and what’s involved for those interested.

A selection panel of Ergon Energy Retail, Powerlink Queensland, ICAN Learn and Financial Counsellors’ Association of Queensland will consider applications in October, with scholarships kick starting in mid-November. 

CBA Indigenous and Multicultural Scholarship Applications are now open!

ICAN Learn would like to thank the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (CBA) ongoing commitment and continued partnership with ICAN to support diversity, by building the representation of Indigenous and Multicultural financial counsellors within the broader financial counselling sector.

The three-year CBA sponsorship agreement will see two place-based Diploma of Financial Counselling Scholarship programs delivered, commencing in February 2021.

This is a fantastic opportunity to receive a free diploma qualification worth $8,000 in a supported learning environment.

There are 14 Indigenous and up to 24 Multicultural scholarships on offer so be quick!

For more information please contact

Leadership Change for ICAN Learn

Sadly we advise that Bernadette Pasco has resigned from the role of Executive Officer at ICAN Learn to commence the next exciting chapter in her career.

Bernadette’s contribution to the establishment and growth of ICAN’s social enterprise, ICAN Learn, has made it the successful Registered Training Organisation that it is today. 

Bernadette has led a dedicated team of qualified teachers and experienced compliance and co-ordination staff, who all play an integral role in delivering high quality training to both our students and the Financial Counselling sector.  From humble beginnings as a ‘start up’, to becoming the leading provider of the Diploma of Financial Counselling nationally, Bernadette leaves ICAN Learn knowing she has contributed to growing the Financial Counselling and Capability workforce, which is particularly critical in the current COVID-19 environment.

Bernadette leaves ICAN Learn in a very strong position, and we thank her for her expertise, passion, and tireless work in developing the Financial Counselling and Capability Sectors.  She will be missed by us all.

The ICAN Board has appointed Director Bob Frazer as the Acting Executive Officer of ICAN Learn during the leadership transition, ensuring business continuity until a new permanent Executive Officer is appointed.

If you have any questions about the changes at ICAN Learn, please feel free to contact Bob Frazer at

For student or course enquiries, please contact

Meet our two new Teachers!

Since 2019, ICAN Learn has been working to increase the teacher population for the financial counselling sector. Through the generous sponsorship from EnergyAustralia and CBA, ICAN Learn has more than tripled the number of financial counsellors teaching the Diploma of Financial Counselling.

Most teachers are employed on a casual basis and are doing an amazing job working alongside our teaching lead, Robyn Shepherd-Murdoch; to deliver industry focused education to increase the number of financial counsellors in Australia.

Our newest recruits – Leanne Khan and Michelle Ludwig – were also casual teachers with ICAN Learn before joining the team on a part-time basis. Between them, they bring lots of financial counselling casework expertise in the areas of problem gambling, family violence, complex casework, community development, systems advocacy and a number of other areas, including teaching and mentoring.

We asked Michelle and Leanne about their work and their primary reasons for teaching with ICAN Learn.

Leanne Khan

Leanne Khan

Leanne always had an interest in education, and this, combined with her passion for both community sector work and financial counselling, made logical sense for teaching to be her next step.

“I come with 25 years’ experience in the community sector, and around 50% of that work has been in financial counselling. I bring commitment, enthusiasm, and years of casework expertise, which includes specialisations in gambling, family violence, natural disaster, and social security”, explained Leanne.

“I love the practical “hands on” approach to teaching because I can bring real cases into the classroom to support student learning, and use a best practice model theory combined with social justice as the basis for learning”, said Leanne.  “ICAN Learn has a commitment to ensure that students understand a case management style of service, underpinned by social justice, producing well exposed, work ready candidates. In a nutshell, I believe my values and commitment to the financial counselling sector are mirrored by ICAN Learn’s commitment to the sector.”  

Michelle Ludwig

Michelle Ludwig

Michelle Ludwig has been a financial counsellor for 8 years and thought it was high time to head in a different direction.

“I decided to return to study recently by completing my training and assessment qualification [TAE40116], and now I’m excited to be a teacher with the ICAN Learn team,” said Michelle.

“I will be able to share my knowledge and financial counselling experience with all of the new students who have a passion to join the sector.  For the past three years, I have specialised in family violence financial counselling, and feel that I have much to share. Real case studies are so important to bring a ‘live’ experience to the teaching environment.  I look forward to learning a lot more from the ICAN Learn experts in the field!”

ICAN Learn is excited that experts like Leanne and Michelle are prepared to share their knowledge and focus on this essential role in sector development.

Thanks Leanne and Michelle – welcome to the ICAN Learn team!

Bravehearts: Teaming up with the ADF Financial Consumer Centre

ADF Team Lunch

December 2019 saw 12 months of discussion and planning between the ADF Financial Services Consumer Centre and ICAN Learn culminate in a week of intense education immersion for consumer centre personnel. The training expanded their understanding about ways to support the provision of financial information to ADF personnel, pre and post-deployment, to reduce risks of financial difficulty.

Employees of Bravery Trust, a national organisation helping injured, serving, and ex-serving members of the Defence Force and their families with urgent financial assistance, are actively involved in this initiative, sharing their experience about how mental health, and the effects of service, can impact a family’s financial wellness.

ICAN Learn is delivering content of the Diploma of Financial Counselling [CHC51115] to ADF Consumer Centre and Bravery Trust participants.  This will build a full understanding of how the ADF can proactively provide links to financial counsellors around the country, building opportunities to link those actively providing services to our country, to post-service support.

“It is a fantastic opportunity to work with the ADF,” said Bernadette Pasco, Executive Officer of ICAN Learn. “We are learning a lot from the incredibly well-qualified participants in our group about ADF Consumer Centre services and ways we can work together. Participants in the group have made us incredibly welcome and been really open to new ways of thinking about links between financial difficulty, mental health, and other key issues for better long term outcomes.”

“We were privileged to be in a training space in the war memorial in Sydney for a whole week, and got a sense of the depth of dedication of those providing service to others. It was very moving, on lots of fronts.”

Geoff Cornwall, ICAN Learn teacher and financial counsellor from NSW and member of the Financial Counselling Association Board of Management, was part of the training delivery in December.

In addition to providing financial counselling expertise, Geoff was able to share some of his experiences as an Official Visitor (mental health) at the South Coast Hospital, where there are specialist services for ADF members with post-traumatic stress disorder. Geoff enriched the training by providing an insight into difficulties experienced by defence staff when PTSD affects the ability to function, and frequently drives financial and other disadvantage.

ICAN Learn continues to work with the ADF and Bravery Trust to support members and Veterans in a directed way into the future.