The following links provide basic information and contact details for practitioners who can assist you with a variety of aspects of dealing with credit and debt.
Financial counsellors provide a free and independent information and advocacy service for people experiencing difficulty paying their bills including mortgages and day-to-day living expenses.
Financial counsellors usually work with people whose financial hardship is the result of long term poverty or changed circumstances such as loss of income or over-commitment. They assist by:
- advising on debt-payment options
- advocating with creditors on your behalf
- assisting with expenses planning
- explaining debt recovery processes and bankruptcy
- determining your eligibility for government assistance
- referring you to other relevant services
Financial counsellors can offer full independent financial counselling services without being licensed under the Corporations Act because the Australian Investments and Security Commission (ASIC) has exempted them from holding a licence. However, they must meet certain conditions such as having no fees, charges or commissions.
Note: Financial counsellors provide free advice about debt management, while financial planners provide fee-for-service advice about investments.
The Financial and Consumer Rights Council is the peak body for financial counsellors in Victoria.
Find out more about financial counselling agencies or access a list of available financial counselling organisations.
Preparing to speak to a financial counsellor
Before you speak to a financial counsellor you need to:
- make a list of all the people you owe money to and how much you owe;
- find your original loan agreements if possible;
- have the last statements or bills you’ve been sent;
- have on hand any court papers or letters that seem urgent;
- provide proof of the income you’re getting, such as payslips or benefit statements; and
- a certificate of separation from your employer if you have one.
Find out more about the MoneyHelp financial counselling service.
Superannuation funds are able to provide advice on levels of insurance or investment options under changes to the superannuation rules in July 2009. This advice is particularly valuable to people who have a query about an existing superannuation product and don’t want to go to the expense of seeing a financial planner, and will be provided at low cost or no cost to fund members.
A list of Australian superannuation funds is available from the Australian Superannuation Fund Association website.
If you require free legal advice on a credit or debt matter, contact:
- Consumer Action Law Centre;
- Victoria Legal Aid; or
- your local community legal centre.
You can contact Consumer Action Law Centre on 03 9629 6300 or 1300 881 020.
As well as free legal advice, Community Legal Centres may assist you with court proceedings.
An accountant may be able to assist you in relation to taxation, setting up and running a business, and some investment options. Accountants’ knowledge of financial markets and economic and regulatory information can be a valuable asset when you are making decisions about your finances, investments and taxation.
More information about certified practicing accountants who can help you with credit and debt issues.
Emergency help services
The following emergency relief organisations provide food vouchers, travel tickets and other urgently required provisions and services.
Call MoneyHelp on 1800 007 007 if you require assistance with locating an emergency relief agency in your local area.