Congratulations Betty Weule, AM

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13/06/2016

13th June 2016 - On behalf of the financial counselling sector, Financial Counselling Australia congratulates Betty Weule on receiving an honour in today’s Queens Birthday honours list.

Betty is being made a Member of the Order of Australia.

The citation for the order is “for significant service to social welfare, through the development of financial counselling services in New South Wales.”

To our knowledge, this is the first time the Australian honours system has included an award to a person that mentions financial counselling. 

This “first” will not be a surprise to many financial counsellors, as Betty has been responsible for so many “firsts” already.

Over a career spanning 40 years, she founded the first financial counselling service in NSW in 1976. In 1981, she set up the first telephone financial counselling service. She was also a founding member of both the Financial Counsellors Association of NSW and the peak body for financial counsellors (now FCA). There is more information about this remarkable woman in the attached excerpt from the nomination.

When Betty gave a keynote address at FCA’s annual conference in Adelaide just a few weeks ago, the 520 people in the room - financial counsellors as well as representatives from industry and government – were hanging on her every word.  

She reminded us all that it is sometimes important to take a stand when vulnerable consumers are being ripped off. Among the campaigns which became famous were the Walton’s Campaign against high cost credit and the Avco Dump. Clients whose few household possessions were secured by Avco under a Bill of Sale, were encouraged to “dump” those they did not need or which had broken on the steps of Avco’s head office in Sydney and Melbourne.  Financial counsellors then set them alight! The law was changed to stop finance companies taking securities like this.

Betty – we think you’re a hero.  Congratulations.

MEDIA CONTACT: Fiona Guthrie 0402 426 835  fiona.guthrie@financialcounsellingaustralia.org.au

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 Excerpt from the Nomination of Betty for an Order of Australia

Financial counsellors work in community, not-for-profit organisations. They provide information, support and advocacy to people in financial difficulty helping them get back on track. Dr Betty Weule was one of the first financial counsellors in Australia.

For over 40 years, Betty has worked to grow and develop the field of financial counselling and to improve the financial services marketplace. In her roles either in assisting clients directly or managing financial counselling services, Betty will have helped hundreds of Australians.

Given the nature of financial difficulty, many clients are vulnerable and/or on low incomes. More broadly however, Betty's work in bankruptcy and credit law reform and in advising governments and industry on these issues as well as her frequent media appearances, will have impacted not just hundreds of Australians, but many thousands.

The additional written references, from a range of colleagues, as well as Betty's CV outline her considerable achievements. They include:

* founding the first financial counselling service in New South Wales in 1976. This was no small feat: financial counselling was a new concept and obtaining support and funding to set up a service was a huge challenge. The approach Betty put in place then has helped guide financial counselling ever since: financial counsellors not only assist individuals to resolve financial difficulties, but also to prevent problems in the first place. A good example was Betty's advocacy around the operations of Waltons Credit and the door-to-door selling of credit (now banned under current laws).

* founding member of the peak body for financial counsellors, Financial Counselling Australia in 1985(FCA was previously called the Australian Financial Counselling and Credit Reform Association)

* founding member of the Financial Counsellors Association of NSW

* setting up Credit Line Financial Counselling Services and the associated credit legal service at Wesley Mission in 1981. Betty managed this service for 20 years. She also established a specialist team within this service focusing on people with gambling issues - an innovation then, but now well accepted.

* development of the first courses to train financial counsellors and later, involvement in developing a Diploma level qualification as financial counselling evolved as a profession. The large majority of training courses were conducted by Betty on a voluntary basis and it was not until the last few years that a government grant was available that would cover her time

* significant contributions to consumer policy and law reform, particularly in relation to bankruptcy legislation, credit laws and telecommunications over many years.

* running specialist, accredited training for Aboriginal financial counsellors in NSW from 2010 onwards

* authoring the first resources for financial counsellors on bankruptcy

* delivering specialist workshops on bankruptcy for FCA at annual conferences (voluntary basis)`

* voluntary work as a financial counsellor for a decade at Lifeline Central Coast

* Betty has been appointed by various governments to provide expert advice on credit and complaint handling.

She was the Telstra Businesswoman of the Year for NSW in 2000.

There are now over 800 financial counsellors in Australia and the profession has grown in numbers and stature.This is in large measure due to Betty's tireless efforts and vision.