If your small business has been affected by a bushfire or COVID-19, free help is available from a financial counsellor.

Small business financial counsellors are qualified professionals who provide advice to small business owners and sole traders in financial difficulty.

Their services are non-judgmental, free, independent and confidential. 

A specialist small business financial counsellor can talk to you about: 

  • options for managing business debts as well as personal debts 

  • the implications for directors who have guaranteed a business loan or other service/supply 

  • how to dispute business debts in external dispute resolution schemes 

  • how to negotiate repayment arrangements:

o   on a tax debt (company or individual)

o   on a lease or utility bill

o   with suppliers

o   on any other business debt.

Financial counsellors are also trained in negotiation and counselling. 

On January 20, 2020, in response to the bushfires that caused widespread devastation to communities all along the eastern seaboard and into South Australia, the Federal Government announced a suite of measures to support small businesses.

 

In a joint media release from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Senator Michaelia Cash, the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, the government announced $3.5 million to establish the Small Business Bushfire Financial Counselling Support Line.

 

On March 18, the Support Line and accompanying website was officially launched. Financial Counselling Australia operates the Support Line, which is staffed by 10 specialist small business financial counsellors. Financial counsellors are qualified professionals who provide information, advice and advocacy to people in financial difficulty.

 

FCA, a not-for-profit organisation, is the national voice for the financial counselling profession in Australia. It:

  • Provides resources and support for financial counsellors

  • Advocates for a fairer marketplace

  • Works to raise the profile of financial counsellors

  • Advocates to increase access to financial counselling and

  • Works to improve hardship processes for people in financial difficulty.

 

Financial counselling agencies are exempt from requirements to hold both an Australian Financial Services Licence and a Credit Licence. This means financial counsellors can give advice about certain financial products and credit activities as long as the financial counselling agency meets the terms of the exemption. These include that the agency:

  • doesn’t charge any fees or receive any remuneration from providing financial counselling services

  • doesn’t run, or otherwise participate in, a financial services business

  • ensures its staff don’t provide any advice outside the terms of the exemptions

  • ensures its financial counsellors are a member of, or eligible for membership of, a financial counselling association; and

  • ensures its financial counsellors have appropriate training and adequate skills and knowledge.

 

Financial Counselling Australia has long advocated for dedicated financial counselling support for small business owners and sole traders, modelled along the lines of the United Kingdom’s Business Debtline, which has offered a similar service for many years.

 

This website was put together by Financial Counselling Australia - ABN 67 073 167 361. Copyright © 2020 Financial Counselling Australia. All rights reserved.

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Disclaimer

The information on this website and in the links provided are information only and should not be taken as advice. You should seek advice about how the information on this website may apply to your own specific circumstances.

Financial Counselling Australia is not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information provided directly or indirectly, by use of this website.

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