What is financial counselling?

In a nutshell, financial counselling helps you manage your debts and get your finances back under control.

Our financial counselling service is free, confidential and independent. It is a not-for-profit, community-based service available to people in Australia experiencing financial difficulty or who have problems with debt.

What is financial counselling?

Financial counselling is a free, confidential and independent service provided by skilled professionals, called financial counsellors, who offer practical advice and support to people experiencing financial difficulty or who are having problems with their debts.

Anyone can find themselves in financial difficulty, also called financial hardship. There are many life events that can cause financial hardship. Examples include: leaving home, relationship breakdowns, losing a job, retiring, illness, a death in the family, caring for a loved one, natural disasters, domestic violence, or similar. If this has happened to you, a financial counsellor can help.

Thousands of Australians get help from financial counsellors every year.

Access to financial counselling is free, it is not means-tested and is available through community organisations across Australia.

Read Financial counselling in a nutshell for more information.

How can a financial counsellor help?

A free financial counsellor can help you explore your options, negotiate with your creditors, put plans in place to manage your debts and get your finances back under control.

Financial counsellors have specific knowledge about the credit, bankruptcy and debt collection laws, social security framework, grants and concessions available to help with cost of living, industry hardship obligations and how to access free dispute resolution through independent dispute resolution schemes. They are also trained in negotiation and counselling.


Financial counsellors CAN assist you by:

  • doing a full assessment of your financial situation – including regular income and expenditure, assets and liabilities
  • understanding which debts are priorities
  • developing a workable budget and money plan with you
  • explaining your rights and the pros and cons of different options you have to manage your debts and financial hardship
  • advocating and negotiating on your behalf directly with your creditors
  • lodging complaints on your behalf to external dispute resolution schemes
  • providing advice about what options, rights and responsibilities you may have
  • referring you to other services you may need, such as legal services, health services and crisis food and accommodation services


Financial counsellors CAN also provide information and advice 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


Financial counsellors DON’T:

  • 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 (that’s the role of financial planners)


Read How does a financial counsellor help for more information.

  • Video: What do financial counsellors do? – 3mins