Category: News

Calling all QLD FC’s


ICAN Learn is excited to have the unique opportunity to build the teaching capacity of the financial counselling sector through the EnergyAustralia FC Educator Scholarship Program. As many would have heard at recent FCAN, FCRC and SAFCA conferences, ICAN Learn is recruiting  experienced financial counsellors that want to become qualified trainers of the Diploma of Financial Counselling. The scholarship program is a sector first and will attract people that want to have an impact on the  financial counselling and capability sector’s future through education!

If you’re based in Queensland you still have until the Friday 30th of November 5.00pm to put in your expression of interest on the ICAN Learn website – access this link:  and don’t forget to upload your resume at the last question.

NSW, Victoria and South Australia have already closed their expression of interest stage. Successful applicants will be contacted by their peak body in the next week or so with interviews coming up in the second week of December. Help ICAN Learn to educate and empower the emerging generation of financial counsellors to be educators and leaders of the future!

The program will provide an opportunity to gain the Certificate IV Training and Assessment, a qualification that you need to deliver training in the Vocational Education Training [VET] sector and casual experience working with ICAN Learn (Registered Training Organisation). This qualification and experience will open up a range of new Fiancial Counselling and Capability employment opportunities.

Maximizing the social in our ‘social enterprise’

In a time where many training organisations are profit driven and lack genuine industry links, the team at ICAN Learn wanted to ensure a distinct difference by building a social enterprise. In Australia, social enterprises have been defined as organisations that:

  • Are led by an economic, social, cultural, or environmental mission consistent with a public or community benefit;
  • Trade to fulfil their mission;
  • Derive a substantial portion of their income from trade; and
  • Reinvest the majority of their profit/surplus in the fulfilment of their mission.

This is a movement that has been captured by many throughout all sectors of the Australian Economy. Social Enterprises work for more than profit alone; they foster social and environmental innovation and are accountable for their employees, consumers and communities. They offer a business model where people can be given direct voice in running the organisation. 

When creating ICAN Learn it was imperative that we align to the vision and values of the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network Ltd (ICAN), the parent not-for-profit organisation, so we sought experts in the field. ICAN Learn’s co-founders Bernadette Pasco and Aaron Davis worked with a team of MBA students from the University of Queensland Business School’s, Social Economic Engagement Program (SEEP) to develop a marketing strategy. After a series of interviews and business plan review, Rick Howell, Michael Page and Ben Jones from the SEEP program felt that ICAN Learn’s value proposition and key marketing messages were that;

  1. We offer a high quality qualification
  2. We offer a wealth of industry connections to help students find employment outcomes
  3. All course fees go toward developing the student, financial counselling/capability sector and carrying out the parent organisation’s mission.

On review of the key marketing messages ICAN Managing Director, Aaron Davis said, “we hoped the first two would directly appeal to potential customers because they’re measurable. We can promote student, employer and industry feedback and quantify the number of people we’re helping join the sector and the quality of their work through alumni case studies. The third marketing message however counts on the first two marketing messages being based in reality, because at the end of the day people are more concerned about a qualification that provides them with the skills and knowledge to get a job in the sector. Supporting a social cause or enterprise through that process is a bonus.”

Reflecting on ICAN Learn’s value proposition, Executive Officer, Bernadette Pasco said, “to deliver a high quality qualification you need teachers that have the qualification being delivered, extensive industry knowledge/experience and great communication skills, our lead lecturer Robyn Shepherd-Murdoch ticks all those boxes. ICAN Learn constantly receives feedback from students saying that having a teacher that is actively engaged in the financial counselling sector makes all the difference, it’s about sharing real life experiences and industry connections.”

“A breakdown of the 23 students we have going through our blended learning Diploma of Financial Counselling programs in Victoria highlight the strength of our industry connections”, said Ms. Pasco. “48% are already employed and wanting to advance in the sector, 26% have gained full or part-time work as a result of their course work placement and at this point in time 100% are currently completing their course work placement. I challenge any other Diploma of Financial Counselling training provider to beat those figures.”

“As a social enterprise, the long term vision is that any profits that ICAN Learn makes will go to supporting much needed Indigenous financial counselling, literacy and consumer advocacy initiatives”, said Mr. Davis. In the short to medium term however, ICAN Learn’s ‘social’ success will be measured on the quality of financial counsellors and capability workers we produce and what we achieve in advancing financial counselling and capability in Australia. The upcoming Energy Australia Financial Counselling Development Program partnership with ICAN Learn will go a long way to maximizing the ‘social’ in our social enterprise.”

Mentorship Program’s Rising Stars – Part 3

This month ICAN Learn E-News caught up with Lynda Edwards, a Wangkumara woman with connections to the Barkindji people of Far West NSW and a star already burning bright. After working for 13 years as a financial counsellor, capability worker and manager of the Manage your Income Manage Your Life Indigenous Financial Literacy Program with CentaCare Wilcannia-Forbes, Lynda took a position with Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) to co-ordinate the national financial capability program.

Explaining her role with FCA, Lynda said, “I basically work with services across Australia that employ financial capability workers, ensuring our people are supported through information pathways which includes a community of practice (FCW google email network). My other role is to coordinate and facilitate the annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) Forum and EDR Yarning Circle at the national FCA conference. More recently, I have also been involved in lobbying and advocacy to government, industry, and regulators.”

“We’ve done a lot of advocacy and lobbying for better consumer protections against payday lending and consumer lease companies”, said Ms Edwards. “Until protections are in place, we’ll continue to try and get politicians to understand the damage these financial products are doing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities on the ground. Hopefully we’ll see some traction with that in the near future.”

When questioned on whether the Mentorship Program has assisted Lynda in her current role, she said, “I’ve been a financial counsellor before, but this diploma has given me so much more than that. There’s so many issues, so you’ve got to learn about different rules, legislation and laws to be able to participate in the conversation. It has been a really big learning curve for me.”

“Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander financial literacy Google network also benefits, as I’m also better able to respond to queries about cases,” said Ms. Edwards. “I think that’s one of the main reasons why I wanted to do the diploma, to really understand the work our financial counsellors do on the ground. There’s just so many different issues out there for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, because finance plays such a huge role in our lives.”

Speaking on learning with her Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peers from all over Australia, Lynda said, “It provides a great opportunity to share what we’re seeing on the ground and better understand the challenges our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander financial counsellors have working in their own communities where financial literacy is relatively a really new thing. I guess it grounds my knowledge on what our financial counsellors and capability workers face on a daily basis.”

Talking more specifically about the delivery of the Diploma of Financial Counselling, Lynda said, “The fact that it’s taught it’s face to face and has a culturally competent course instructor has really assisted me. Having other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and students in the room is also really beneficial, it’s all about being able to have a discussion in a safe environment and not being worried about being judged.”

Reflecting on her time in the sector, Lynda stated, “You know the professionalism of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Financial Councellors has grown so much in the last 10 years. We now have our own mob advocating at a national level to industry and government. We’re also seeing the stereotypical black/white community service roles reversed with many of my Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues working in organisations that service mainstream Australia. Unlike some ATSI classified positions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this profession are financial counsellors first, ethnicity second.”

“For many of us financial counselling is a 24/7 profession, the work day never ends, as there is always a family or community member in financial hardship waiting for us at home,” stated Ms Edwards.

Top 5 financial counselling and capability websites


ICAN Learn has put together a list of the top 5 financial counselling and capability websites in Australia. If you’re studying the Diploma of Financial Counselling or the Financial Literacy Education Skill Set or are just new to the sector, consider this as your inbox treat.

  1. Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) – is the peak body for financial counsellor’s in Australia and its role is to support the financial counselling profession and provide a voice in national debates. FCA also advocates on behalf of the clients of financial counsellors for a fairer marketplace that will prevent financial problems in the first place. FCA is a federated body and its members are each State and Territory financial Counselling Association in Australia. The home page is the best place to get all the latest national financial counselling and sector related news.
  2. State and Territory Financial Counselling Associations –membership is made up of financial counsellors and capability workers in your State/Territory. General purpose is to provide resources and support to members, including professional development opportunities at annual conferences. State and Territory financial counselling associations often build working relationship between the sector, industry and government. They can also advocate on systemic consumer issues and the provision of adequate funding for financial counselling services. There are associations in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia & Northern Territory, Western Australia and Tasmania. These sites are the best place for specific financial counselling and capability information in your State/Territory.
  3. National Debt Helpline (NDH)is a not-for-profit service that helps people tackle their debt problems and is often the first access point for people needing financial counselling services. The financial counselling service provided is free, independent and confidential and  accessed through their website or by calling 1800 007 007, (it’s an easy number to remember just think James Bond twice). NDH can refer to face-to-face financial counselling, legal and crisis food services. The website has a great meet the financial counsellors section that provides a great personal insight into people working within the financial counselling profession.
  4. Financial CapabilityThe Financial Capability website is managed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). ASIC is Australia’s corporate, markets, financial services and consumer credit regulator. ASIC is also the leading Government agency for financial capability, driving initiatives to help Australians be in control of their financial lives. This includes leading and coordinating the National Financial Capability Strategy 2018, with support from the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board. The Strategy sets out a vision of Australians in control of their financial lives. The working together section of the site is a great launch point for learning about other government, industry, not-for-profit and formal education financial capability initiatives.
  5. MoneySmart – The multi-award winning MoneySmart website is also run by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to help people make the most of their money. The website helps ordinary Australians take steps to improve their personal finances by providing independent information for better informed financial decision making. The website also helps people take action on matters by providing a wide range of tools and resources that can make a difference to their lives. The calculators and resources page has some great practical tools for financial counsellors and capability workers to use.







EnergyAustralia backs ground breaking financial counselling development initiatives


ICAN Learn hosted EnergyAustralia and state financial counselling peak body leaders from Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland at a workshop in Cairns earlier this month. The purpose of the workshop was to create a wide-ranging training and professional development plan for the sector. The resulting plan will form the basis of a $1.2 M, three year investment by EnergyAustralia for the continued professionalisation of financial counselling. Significant planning goals include the development and delivery of an educators scholarship program, a Diploma of Financial Counselling scholarship program, an accredited Professional Supervision/Mentor scholarship program and an Advanced Diploma of Financial Counselling scholarship program for participating states.

Speaking on EnergyAustralia’s investment into the Financial Counselling sector, Briar Hall (Leader Vulnerability) said, “We are proud to partner with ICAN Learn to deliver the EnergyAustralia Financial Counselling Development Program, over the next three years we will invest to build growth, capability and new opportunities for a sector and its people we believe, must be invested in.”

Highlighting the significance of EnergyAustralia’s investment, Bernadette Pasco, ICAN Learn Executive Officer said, “EnergyAustralia has provided the financial counselling sector and ICAN Learn an opportunity to build educational and career pathways for both expert and new financial counsellors. There will be educational opportunities for experienced financial counsellors to add training delivery, supervision, casework specialisation and leadership to their skill set, generating new career prospects. Holding true to our mantra of, “real education, industry connections, advance your profession.”

The EnergyAustralia, ICAN Learn and state peak financial counselling association partnerships will offer some ground breaking initiatives including a scholarship program to increase the number of financial counsellors qualified in teaching the Diploma of Financial Counselling. Another new enterprise is the development of an Advanced Diploma of Financial Counselling that aims to grow the professionalisation of the sector and develop career pathways for skilled practitioners. Workshop participants also discussed designing an accredited “Professional Supervision/Mentor Skill Set”, that could be delivered on its own or credited towards the Advanced Diploma of financial counselling.

EnergyAustralia and ICAN Learn plan to formally launch the partnership initiatives at each participating state financial counselling conference over the coming months. First cab off the rank was the Financial Counsellors Association of NSW (FCAN) conference held in Sydney last week, where EnergyAustralia’s Briar Hall and ICAN Learn’s Robyn Shepherd-Murdoch made the important announcement at the start of the event. Commenting on the announcement response, Graham Smith, FCAN Chair said, “the NSW financial counselling conference attendees were really excited about the opportunities presented and love the fact that they have been developed by financial counsellors for financial counsellors.This EnergyAustralia investment is a ‘game changer’ for the Financial Counselling sector.”

If you’d like to keep up to date with all of EnergyAustralia’s scholarship programs in your state, sign up to the ICAN Learn E-news

Mentorship Program’s Rising Stars – Part 2

Every month in the lead up to our 2019 Graduation, ICAN will be featuring the students of its “Indigenous Financial Counselling Mentorship Program” here in the ICAN E-News.

The Mentorship program provides nationally accredited and recognised training through the Diploma of Financial Counselling, and offers personal and academic mentorship in a supported learning environment, connecting students through face-to-face classroom and weekly online training sessions. It reflects the growing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples working in the financial counselling and capability sector, with nine financial capability workers, six financial counsellors and one financial literacy trainer currently participating in the 2017-2019 program.

This month, we meet Kelly Kitching of the Kimberly Money Management Services and Fran Clements from the Ngunga Women’s Resource Centre, both located in Derby, Western Australia.

Kelly Kitching has been working with the Kimberly Money Management Services in Derby, Western Australia as Program Manager for over a year.

What has been your experience so far through the Mentorship Program? 

It’s good. A lot of information, it gives you knowledge of how and where to look for information toassist our clients with financial issues. I can take this back to my work place and to my colleagues and implement it in my community. It’s good, I like it.

I decided that I wanted to study the Diploma of Financial Counselling, because I am a Financial Capability Worker. I want to get the qualifications to help our people be financially educated and to ensure they are not on their own when financial burdens effect their lives. Back home, in the remote areas, I travel to Remote Communities and helping our people with money matters advising and assisting them in the right direction, they have very little support with literacy issues out there especially with no/limited access to phone and internet services.

The West Kimberly area is very remote and covers a vast area. there is a big need for financial counselling in Remote Regions. I see becoming a Financial Counsellor as the way to be able to help our people in Financial Hardship, So, that’s what my motivation has been. I wanted to take the next step, and study the Diploma.

How has the Mentorship Program assisted you in your own work?

The Mentorship Program gives us a lot of practical knowledge about financial counselling, working with people and clients and a lot of discussion about the kinds of situations we might be working in with clients. In these discussions, we find that there are some similarities of client situations in other areas, where the other students come from and are working in.

There are a few of us in the class that all work very remotely, so we have that connection.

What kind of personal and/or professional benefits has the Mentorship Program provided you with?

The program helps us at many different levels. From a personal perspective, we do this kind of work every day with our families. The Program helps me to be more informed of practice, to understand the changes that are happening around us local state and federal, everything that we learn then helps me to work with our families and our communities on the ground.

The sponsorship for the program was a great incentive and I am very grateful to be accepted to ICAN for the training to assist and support me to gain a qualification in Diploma of Financial Counselling. The staff there are so supportive, also for my employer Winun Ngari Aboriginal Corporation for approving and accepting my study leave in work and block releases to attend and support me on this journey.

What has been your experience in doing the course with other Indigenous students?

I always really enjoy coming to these kinds of programs because you get good ideas from each other. When I’m back home working and feel stuck on something when working with a client, I can ring the other students for guidance. They can really help you out, so you don’t feel that you’re on your own. It’s been really good because we meet face to face in Cairns, and even though we’re in different States, we can all connect with each other by phone or online, and we can all have that input. We learn and get help from each other, and it doesn’t matter where we’re located – we support each other.

Fran Clements is a Financial Counselling Coordinator and has been working with the Ngunga Women’s Resource Centre in Derby since 2013.

What has been your experience so far through the Mentorship Program? 

I actually started studying the Diploma of Financial Counselling in 2014. There were a lot of challenges in trying to do the Diploma in an online-only environment, and there wasn’t a lot of support offered to students at that time. I joined the Mentorship Program in 2017 as a way to complete my Diploma and be able to give back to my people. It’s been a great experience being able to do the course in a face-to-face environment. I enjoy the classroom setting and it’s been a good way of learning in this course. When we come to each block training, we get that support. The Trainer and the support from Majella [Training Coordinator] have been great. We also have a good student support network which I didn’t have before. We get on the phone and also email each other, we also have a site where we can ask each other questions and support each other that way too.

How has the Mentorship Program assisted you in your own work?

The Program has assisted me to build more confidence in being able to advocate for the need for financial counselling for our organisation and community. It has also helped me in learning the financial counselling process, especially in areas that are new, like negotiating on behalf of clients and writing to creditors.

What kind of personal and/or professional benefits has the Mentorship Program provided you with?

Personally, the benefits will be that when I’ve completed the course, I’ll have my Diploma!  I’ll be the first in my family and in the area of financial counselling, it’s big because I have four children, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren and being able to teach them also, about the financial side of things, so that they don’t struggle like we struggled. So it’s a personal motivation and an achievement to get my piece of paper!

For me, the knowledge learned in this course is so important, because money and dealing with money is something that starts from home, teaching the kids the basics about finance – that it’s something we can learn about, not just when it gets to a crisis moment. With assistance from a Financial Counsellor, those little steps can start now.

There are also benefits in being part of a big network. The course also helps us to learn how to better carry out our roles, to be able to help our clients better, because that’s what it’s all about, the clients.

What has been your experience in doing the course with other Indigenous students?

It’s been great, because having that support and being away from home and away from interruptions in order to be able to focus on the course and our assessments is really good. As a group, we can all discuss issues, share the way we do things and provide feedback to each other as well. Coming here to Cairns for each week of training has been really good.


The third national Mentorship program commenced in October 2017, bringing together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. The program is delivered in partnership with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, who sponsors scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student participants to successfully undertake their Diploma of Financial Counselling. The Commonwealth Bank Mentorship Program Scholarships cover the full course fees for the Diploma.

Student participants of the Mentorship Program met in Cairns last week for the counselling and mental health components of the program, and are expected to graduate in mid-2019.

Inbox Treats – New MoneySmart videos

“Inbox Treats” is a new series designed to share those ‘treat’ emails we think might be useful and/or informative to you. To get the ball rolling, I’d like to share an email promoting a series of ASIC videos for Indigenous consumers that Lyn Harris, Secretary of the Financial Counselling Association of Queensland (FCAQ) sent through to us.

ASIC has a dedicated Indigenous Outreach Program (IOP) which aims to increase Indigenous Australians’ financial knowledge, and improve the financial services provided to them.

The IOP with 33 Creative produced two new MoneySmart videos to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people take control of their money and get help with their debts when they need it.

ASIC’s IOP spoke to people in Indigenous communities about the financial issues that affect them and people said they needed help sorting out their money problems and dealing with family pressure about money.

From this, ASIC created two videos which follow the journeys of Uncle Charlie and Lisa as they learn how to take control of their money to look after themselves and their families.

You can watch the videos on ASIC’s MoneySmart website:

ASIC’s MoneySmart website has lots of useful tips and tools to help you take control of your money. You can also follow MoneySmart on Facebook and Twitter and sign up to their monthly enewsletter.

Download the videos

You are welcome to download the videos from Dropbox and either link to, or embed, them on your website directly from YouTube.


Work placement key to a quality education

Noema Mahutariki from the Benevolent Society in Cairns, started her 220 hrs work placement at ICAN, a new training standard under the revamped Diploma of Financial Counselling. Ms Mahutariki received a CBA scholarship as part of ICAN Learn’s new Multi-Cultural Scholarship Program currently being delivered in Melbourne.

Explaining the importance of work placement and why it was introduced to the new qualification, Robyn Shepherd-Murdoch, ICAN Learn’s lead lecturer said, “What we witnessed in Victoria before the work placement requirement was introduced, was graduates receiving their diploma qualification without being work ready. We don’t expect everyone to be handling complex cases straight away, but we do want people that have experience in client intake and the working within a financial counselling practise.”

Leading ICAN’s Financial Counselling service provision from Townsville to the Torres Strait, ICAN Operations Manager, Jon O’Mally (pictured left) knows all too well the importance of developing a skilled workforce. “The financial counselling workforce in Queensland is re-building and we need fresh talent coming through the ranks,” said Mr O’Mally. “Our dream is to have all financial counselling services delivered at a national standard.”

Putting the call out to Managers of financial counselling services across Australia, Aaron Davis, ICAN/ICAN Learn CEO said, “Please take the opportunity to take on Financial Counselling work placement students, you will be building the professionalisation and sustainability of our sector. Who knows, you might even find your next star team member.”

Speaking about the journey so far in becoming a financial counsellor Noema said, “the training has been insightful and the multi-cultural group that I’ve been learning with are amazing, all with a desire to give back to their community. I got to visit Yarrabah on my first day of ICAN work placement with Financial Counsellor, Sandy Rosas (pictured right). We assisted one grandmother who is caring for her grandchildren to access NILS, where she’d previously been using her superannuation savings to purchase basic household items. It felt great to provide someone with a better option. I’m looking forward to working with ICAN over the coming months and take my own organisation’s service delivery to the next level.”

Mentorship Program’s rising stars part 1

In the lead up to our 2019 Graduation, ICAN Learn will be featuring scholarship winners of its “Indigenous Financial Counselling Mentorship Program” in the ICAN Learn E-News. The third national program and is the first being delivered by ICAN Learn.

The Commonwealth Bank sponsored Mentorship program provides nationally accredited training through the Diploma of Financial Counselling and the Financial Literacy Education Skill Set and offers personal and academic mentorship in a supported learning environment, connecting students through face-to-face classroom and online training sessions.

The program reflects the growing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples working in the financial counselling and capability sector. This month we catch up with Pearl Turner from Save the Children in Normanton and Ralph Coulthard from the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (ALRM) in Port Augusta and ask them how it’s going so far.

ICAN:   What has been your experience so far through the Mentorship Program? 

Pearl – I’ve really enjoyed meeting people from all over Australia. It was bit of a challenge at the start, getting into study mode after such a long time. I think the changes Robyn has brought in, has really helped my way of learning, having the assessments done in the time we’re here will make a big difference.

Ralph – The teaching style and student participation have made this a great experience. I think moving away from the technology and concentrating on more to face to face real life yarns really helps with all of our confidence in the program.

ICAN:   How has the Mentorship Program assisted you in your own work?

Pearl – Knowing my boundaries with clients and being able to separate what we can and can’t do in our roles. Really knowing the difference between a financial capability worker and a financial counsellor. Catching up with other students over the phone really helps when we’re struggling to get through assessments, I am always on the phone to the Derby girls Fran and Kelly.

Ralph – the program has helped with the way I talk with creditors and have the evidence ‘records’ to back up what I’m saying, I’ve already had a great success getting over $10,000.00 back for a client that a car dealership was trying to withhold. Before doing this I never knew anything about financial counselling, it’s like a whole new world has opened up. Nothing feels better than when you get a success for a client.

ICAN:   What kind of personal and/or professional benefits has the Mentorship Program provided you with?

Pearl – The discussions on self-care have been really critical, as our roles can lead to vicarious trauma, especially with the intergenerational trauma so common place in our communities. A big discussion today was around methods of dealing with after hour requests down the street and so on, it’s really about setting boundaries.

Ralph – The professional benefits are enormous, I’m building national networks through meeting great people in similar positions from across Australia.

ICAN:     What has been your experience in doing the course with other Indigenous students?

Pearl – Now that we’ve been together for three block visits now, there is a sense of really getting to know each other and a really good bond has formed, where we’re really trying to get each other through. It’s about understanding the challenges we all go through, being so far away from home and making sure we’re all supported. Majella and the team at ICAN treat us like royalty, which also makes you feel closer to home.

Ralph – The experience has been extremely beneficial, we all relate well together and have shared many of the same experiences.

To find out more about the Indigenous financial counselling mentorship program click here.

Where to from here?

Being the CEO of a specialist financial counselling and capability organisation delivers unique insights into the training and professional development needs of the sector. Our organisation’s greatest pride is the mentorship program we developed with the Commonwealth Bank, providing career pathways for Indigenous people nationally, to move from financial capability worker to financial counsellor. But what happens when your team hits the ceiling and the majority have been accredited financial counsellors for a number of years?

Stuck in a job without challenge and an income that stagnates is a sure fire recipe for discontented employees. This got me thinking, where to from here? What new opportunities can we provide our senior financial counsellors to keep them fulfilled in their employment? And how can they generate more income for the organisation that in turn provides them higher salaries?

It was these questions that in part drove the development of ICAN Learn, our “social enterprise”, registered training organisation (RTO). We saw and still see ICAN Learn as the vehicle for experienced financial counsellors across Australia to become qualified sector leaders, teachers, professional supervisors, specialists and industry advisors. All unique skills that support and add value to the financial counselling profession.

When writing the business plan for ICAN Learn, we reached out to agency managers and financial counselling, capability, resilience  and emergency relief workers to get their thoughts on vocational education priorities for the financial well-being sector. Both agency managers and workers rated the Advanced Diploma of Financial Counselling the highest, as an education opportunity that they would be interested in, with an average score of 71.5%. When asked, what subjects would you like to see in an Advanced Diploma of Financial Counselling, sector workers rated leadership and management the highest at (82.5%), with specialist health program/policy (71.4%) and professional supervision (66.4%) coming in second and third.

What the data showed me, is that both agency managers and sector workers share some of my views on the development of financial counselling and have a strong appetite for the continued professionalisation of the financial well-being sector through vocational education. I know there are people in the sector saying, “What’s the point of doing an Advanced Diploma of Financial Counselling, it’s not going to change my pay packet.” To those people I say, there are already accredited financial counsellors out there earning extra income through teaching, supervision and consultation, it’s time to advance.