Illawarra Region Financial Counselling Service
Our NSW Fair Trading funded personal financial counselling service program offers free, personalised, independent and confidential face to face support to people in financial difficulty within the Illawarra region. Our Personal Financial Counsellors (PFCs) help people navigate tough times by providing guidance and support on their financial position, as well as helping them to identify their goals and develop and implement a plan. This includes:
- Assist you in assessing your current financial situation
- Supporting you to negotiate with your landlord, utilities, telecommunicators, and other creditors
- Assisting you to implement selected options about what to do if you’re struggling to pay bills and fines
- Provide ongoing support and refer you to other services you might need, such as legal, accommodation, health and crisis services
- Support you with insolvency options
- Assisting you if you’re being harassed by debt collectors
How We Can Help
We support people experiencing financial difficulty in the Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama and Shoalhaven local government areas. We can support you to improve your financial situation by:
- Presenting you with a clear explanation of your financial situation and the options available to you.
- Providing budgeting advice and assistance to develop budgets and debt repayment plans.
- Assisting you to implement selected options.
- Providing you with strategies and assistance to negotiate with creditors.
- Advocating and negotiating on your behalf with creditors.
- Providing you with information on credit laws, debt recovery processes, bankruptcy and other areas.
- Providing you with information on entitlements and forms of government assistance.
- Making referrals to other services or legal services
Our counsellors are here to support you in finding financial stability and security. They will listen to your concerns and work with you to develop practical solutions to help you achieve your goals.
RFCS NSW believes in a holistic approach to financial counselling. Our Client Philosophy informs our service delivery model and reflects our belief that to be financially self-sufficient there needs to be alignment between the finances, the individual, the family and the support network. This philosophy reflects our belief that planning is key to success. The four business success pillars are:
- the finances
- the individual
- the family and
- the support network
In each of the pillars we look at the client’s circumstances, what it means to be successful, and how we can help to achieve that success through building competencies and developing good network relationships.
Financial counselling is a service provided by a financial counsellor who is a community worker that acts without a conflict of interest, as a negotiator and an advocate on behalf of people experiencing financial hardship or who are unable to manage their debts. Financial Counselling services are funded by state and federal governments and donations.
Financial Counsellors are skilled professionals, bound by a Code of Ethical Practice to deliver the best outcomes for their clients.
Financial Counselling Services are free, confidential and non-conflicted.
- A full assessment of their financial situation, including regular income and expenditure, assets and liabilities
- Advise and assist with problems related to debt and debt enforcement
- Advocate and negotiate with banks and other lenders
- Assist with concessions, grant eligibility and referrals for material aid
- Assist with lodging complaints to external dispute resolution services
- Refer to other community, health and legal services
- Consumer rights information
- Change and improvement information and options
- Credit laws, debt recovery process, bankruptcy and other options
Financial counsellors can also provide information about:
- credit and debt related matters
- the rights and obligations of creditors
- how the debt collection and debt enforcement process works
- the pros and cons of bankruptcy and other insolvency options
- how to access other specialist support services, including gambling, family support, personal counselling, legal aid and emergency relief
- charge any set up fees and/or ongoing fees for their service
- receive any payments or commissions from third parties for their services
- lend money
- complete tax returns
- provide debt consolidation services
- provide investment advice
When you see a financial counsellor, they will firstly listen carefully to your personal story to understand the specific financial challenges you are facing, in the short and long term.
The counsellor will then work with you to gain a clearer picture of your financial situation and provide you with different options and strategies, discussing the pros and cons of each. You can use this information to make your own choices about how to best resolve your financial problems.
The counsellor’s goal is to help you deal with your short-term financial situation as well as minimise the risk of future financial problems. Counselling sessions are safe and always confidential.
Anyone who is unable to pay a bill or at risk of not being able to pay a bill.
Our service is free and independent and is provided within a safe and confidential environment.
Your Financial Counsellor will call you to discuss your situation and will advise if a face to face appointment is necessary.
Your Financial Counsellor will call you to discuss your situation, and will advise you of the paperwork required prior to your appointment.
An appointment is generally 1 to 1.5 hours.
Depending on your needs, multiple sessions may be required.
Helpful resources and support
Moneysmart offers financial guidance for all Australians, with simple tools, tips and calculators.