Financial counselling and youth

WA Vocational Student of the Year 2015 Katherine Haag is a qualified financial counsellor. But what exactly is financial counselling and how can it help the younger generation to make better financial decisions? We spoke to Katherine to find out more!

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“People from all walks of life can find themselves with money problems. Financial counsellors offer free, independent information, options and advocacy to help people develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to take control of their own financial situation. Essentially, we help people struggling with bills and debts to get back on track.

Financial counsellors also work within a community education space by providing consumer credit workshops and information on budgeting.

Young people between the ages of 15 to 30 are at a pivotal stage in their lives, the opportunities they have to engage in education, training and the workforce is shaped and impacted by their education and experiences as well as their socio-economic background. Young people starting out need to know their options in relation to credit, and getting into debt, also what is a credit file and buying a car etc, as by being informed and proactive we can set ourselves and Australia up for a secure financial future.

I undertook a Diploma of Community Services (Financial Counselling) at Central Institute of Technology (now North Metropolitan TAFE) because I wanted to use my administrative and banking background and interest in sociology and advocacy to assist clients to overcome their financial hardship and empower them to take steps towards a more informed way of dealing with the complex world of money, credit and debt.

Through furthering my studies I have developed strong interpersonal and communication skills, and the ability to relate well to people of all ages and backgrounds. My studies have taught me to use a strength based, client centred approach in all of the work that I do. The course also equips you to understand codes of conduct and professional rules and ethics surrounding the profession. The course provides practical, real life case scenarios and is hands on. You get to work on phases of everyday life; problem solving financial issues which affect everyone, and create and enhance budgeting techniques.

I really would like to see younger people, 25–40 in the profession. I believe that life experience is relative to the individual, you can meet a 25 year old who has experienced more life changing issues than a 45 year old who has led a sheltered and privileged life. I believe someone who has been in financial hardship themselves and overcome can be an empowering role model and therefore would have more empathy for the clients. Empathy is paramount in establishing trust, and without trust, positive lasting change cannot occur.”

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Katherine Haag won the WA Vocational Student of the Year because of her understanding of current issues and trends in her industry, her passion for the VET sector and the opportunities it has offered her, her work in the community, the clear goals she has for her future career and relatable qualities as an ambassador for training, her industry and young people. If you think you’ve got what it takes to be this year’s WA Vocational Student of the Year and an ambassador for the training sector, apply today! Applications close Friday 13 May 2016.

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