People with disability face unique financial challenges

Statistics show that people with disability are more than twice as likely to experience financial stress as those without disability.

The Financial Counsellors’ Association of Western Australia (FCAWA) brings together financial counsellors from across the state each year to learn and share best practices on how to provide inclusive and accessible financial counselling services.

The annual conference provides thought-provoking information, practical tools and tips for organisations and stakeholders such as banks, debt collectors, utilities, legal professions and not-for-profits.

With the theme ‘Promoting access for all’, the 2023 FCAWA conference held in October last year called on Activ Foundation’s registered training organisation Activ Pathways to present a variety of topics related to disability and financial counselling.

“We [previously] attended a session Activ was providing that resonated with our theme. After attending the session, we were keen to include Activ in our conference,” FCAWA Executive Officer Melanie Every said.

“FCAWA are keenly aware that financial counsellors need to be accessible to everyone who may be experiencing financial hardship. To that end, providing resources and tools that improve accessibility will reduce barriers that are often not recognised,” she added.

Michael Heath, CEO of Activ Foundation, said Activ was honoured to share its knowledge and experience with financial counsellors from across Western Australia to enable access to financial education to people of all abilities.

“We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to achieve their financial goals, regardless of their ability,” Mr Heath said.

“We know that people with disabilities face unique financial challenges, and we believe that it is important for financial counsellors to be equipped to best support them.”

The topics covered at the conference included how to make financial counselling services more accessible and inclusive, improving communication between financial counsellors and people living with disabilities, and strategies for financial counsellors to support people with disabilities to achieve their financial goals.

Mr Heath added it’s important to understand the unique financial challenges faced by people with a disability and improve communication between financial counsellors and people living with disabilities.

“Language matters,” he said. “Use person-first language and don’t pretend to understand, keep trying until you do understand.”

Statistics show that people with disability aged 15-64 are more than twice as likely to have experienced financial stress in the current year as those without disability.

“Organisations can be unaware of their need to improve accessibility or indeed, how they are inhibiting access, when not employing accessible tools and resources,” Ms Every said.

“We all have a personal responsibility, regardless of our role in an organisation, to be prepared, aware and inclusive.”

This article was written by Business News, and published in their Hearts and Minds section on 11/01/2024. You can view it via their site here.