Hamish McCormick: How small changes can make a big impact

by Hamish McCormick

The Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) is a proud partner of the National Financial Capability Strategy.

AFSA is responsible for managing and regulating Australia’s personal insolvency system. We’re in a unique position to help Australians build skills in managing their money and debts to avoid financial hardship.

We know that people who are struggling to pay their debts often feel vulnerable, stressed and overwhelmed. Providing simple, clear and targeted information is our priority.

Earlier this year, we held our first financial capability focus group with financial counsellors in Adelaide. We talked about opportunities to make it easier for Australians to understand their options for dealing with unmanageable debt. Our focus is on ensuring people have easy access to information that will help them make informed decisions about their financial circumstances.

We are excited to be working on a range of new tools and initiatives to better support Australians to make the right financial decisions for themselves, based on their own specific situation.

Women writing in binder and using calculator at desk

We recently launched:

  • five case studies, each covering a specific consequence of bankruptcy. Research showed that people often go bankrupt without knowing or fully understanding all the consequences. Our new case studies are designed to help people understand the impacts relevant to them.
  • an interactive eligibility tool to help people who are struggling to pay their debts understand what their options are based on their individual circumstance
  • an income contributions calculator to help people check if they need to make compulsory payments during bankruptcy, and assist people in considering if bankruptcy is the right option for them
  • new information on our website to support Australians in financial difficulty – including better connecting people with financial counsellors and support services, and referring them to other relevant websites with tips for managing debt.

AFSA is focused on building services based on what we know about the people who use them. We’re committed to seeking input from the community to help shape our services and inform future changes.

We share new initiatives on AFSA sandpit, our research and testing platform. We’ve received a lot of useful feedback, which is helping to make our service better.

‘I operate as a financial counsellor; these are very relevant real-life examples with clear cut results communicated. The language / tone conveyed is extremely important as most of my clients have anxiety and depression…This will allay anxieties and unnecessary worry by the client. Congratulations on being client centric.’ – Financial Counsellor

‘Love what you have done to this point with your site and this will allow us to guide people to it for more information as we are restricted as a creditor as to what we can tell people in insolvency situations.’ – Creditor

‘The income contribution ready reckoner is a great idea for forecasting assessments.’ – Registered Trustee

Hand holding phone in front of laptop

Some other initiatives we are currently working on include:

  • developing a visual timeline of the bankruptcy journey to show the different steps and touchpoints during a person’s experience with bankruptcy
  • planning a social media campaign to bust some of the myths about bankruptcy
  • writing further case studies, including examples in relation to debt agreements
  • simplifying the language of key forms to make them easier to complete.

Some of these changes are small but will have a big impact for those people facing financial hardship, making it easier to understand and make informed financial decisions. We look forward to continuing to work together with financial counsellors and other stakeholders to build financial wellbeing in Australia.

How can you help?

Please sign up to our AFSA sandpit research group to share your feedback and hear about future opportunities to help us build on this work.

You can also connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Twitter to stay in the loop and have your say on our financial capability initiatives.


Hamish McCormick

Hamish McCormick

Chief Executive and Inspector-General in Bankruptcy, Australian Financial Security Authority

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