Financial counselling

We support an inclusive environment where people of all genders and ages, people living with a disability, First Nations people and people from LGBTI and CALD communities feel empowered to share their experiences and ideas; knowing that these will be valued and respected. Our staff are well-informed and sensitive to lived experiences. They understand the complexities and challenges people face when accessing services. We are committed to working with you to understand your needs.

From time to time we can all have challenges with our finances. Sometimes it’s useful to have some advice and support to manage everything.

Bethany Community Services offers two kinds of financial support services:

  • financial counselling
  • financial wellbeing services.

When you first get in touch with us, we’ll help you decide whether you need to see a financial counsellor, someone from our financial wellbeing team, or whether it might be useful to access both services. 

Our team can provide advice and support to help you:

  • Understand and manage debts, bill payments and financial commitments
  • Speak with your creditors to set up payment plans and query amounts owing or accounts. We can also do this on your behalf if it’s feeling overwhelming for you at the moment.
  • Identify what you can and can’t do if you are having trouble paying debts, fines or bills
  • Set up and manage payment plans and personal budgets
  • Assess your options in relation to your financial position.

We can also:

  • Negotiate on your behalf with other people and organisations about your financial situation and obligations.
  • Provide information about government financial support options that might be available to you.
  • Provide information about bankruptcy and other long-term options.

As well as providing services within Warrnambool and surrounds, the financial counselling program also provides a regular outreach service to Portland, Hamilton, Terang and Corangamite.

Bethany Community Support also has a Financial Counsellor based in Horsham to service the Wimmera.

This program is in high demand, and as such priority is based on personal circumstances.This service is free of charge.

How to access this service

For further information please contact our team:
Phone:             (03) 5278 8122
Email:               fcsouthwest@bethany.org.au

Alternatively complete this form 

FAQ

How long does it take to see a financial counsellor?

This program is in high demand, so it can take up to 4 weeks before your first appointment.  While you’re waiting, one of our team will check in with you regularly to see how things are going for you. There is also a priority assessment which can reduce wait times if you are in immediate crisis. Wait times are often shorter to see the financial capability worker.

What is the difference between a financial counsellor and financial capability worker?

Financial counsellors hold specialist qualifications. They have professional expertise and knowledge of consumer and credit laws as well as different financial products and services. This means they can help you with the more complex aspects of your finance like:

  • managing debts and payment plans
  • negotiating with creditors
  • advocating on your behalf to businesses and other organisations
  • bankruptcy arrangements
  • contract negotiation.

A financial capability worker, part of our financial wellbeing team, can support you with simpler aspects of your finances like:

  • setting up and managing budgets
  • financial tips and learning how to manage your money better
  • accessing government grants, concessions and other support available.

Does it cost anything to see a financial counsellor or financial capability worker?

No, our services are free to access.

Do I have to have an appointment in your office?

We can work with you over the phone, skype and email as well as in-person. Sometimes we need to get documents signed by you or will need to see your bills and statements so working together in person can make this a little easier.

How many sessions does it take?

This depends on your circumstances – people might spend between 2-8 sessions to work with a financial counsellor or financial capability worker, depending on the complexity of their situation. 

Will you tell my partner or my family that I’m seeing a financial counsellor?

Our service is confidential. We will only speak with your partner or your family if you give us written permission to do so. We will also seek your written permission to speak with other people and organisations that may be involved in your finances like energy companies or banks. You can change your mind at any time and ask these people or organisations to withdraw your permission, and we will no longer be able to speak with them about your circumstances.

What information and documents should I bring to a financial counselling session?

Bringing as much information to your session as possible will help us assist you. This might include:

  • bills, fines or accounts that are overdue
  • bank statements
  • loan contracts
  • letters from people or companies you owe money to, like energy or telecommunication companies
  • any other information you have that’s relevant to your financial circumstances.

What if I have joint debts with someone else?

We’ll ask you some questions about the debt and find out if there are any limitations about negotiating with creditors when another person is involved. There are some situations where we might not need permission from the other party to contact creditors, for example when family violence is a consideration. 

Locations that provide this service

Warrnambool region 

Horsham region  

Portland 

Hamilton 

Stawell 

Terang 

Corangamite