Tony Devlin manages The Salvation Army’s Moneycare services in NSW, Qld and the ACT.
How long have you worked for The Salvation Army, and what was your background coming into the role?
I’ve worked for the Salvos for 16 years, but before that I worked in a similar role with Wesley Mission. I have always had a desire to work for social justice, and that’s a strong part of what we do at the Salvos. I believe in caring for people in hardship, and our Moneycare services are a way of providing practical assistance that transforms lives.
What are some of the services Moneycare provides?
We provide a complete suite of financially-related services, from financial counselling, financial capability to a no-interest loans service. We not only help people who have found themselves in debt, but also work with those at risk of moving into financial hardship, by helping to prevent things from getting worse.
We have also helped to create a Financial Inclusion Action Plan which helps to support those involved in the organisation, such as officers, employees and volunteers, as well as community members. It means that we can support those supporting the wider community.
Has Moneycare also created a financial literacy program to help achieve these aims?
Our ‘You’re the Boss’ program provides workshops and related activities to help support people in the area of financial capability. The program strives to portray key messages in an empowering and engaging manner. We work on the basis that workshop participants, if given the opportunity and information, can independently and competently manage their own financial affairs. The vast majority of people who attend a workshop are able to apply what they learn.
We’ve also developed an app as part of the ‘You’re the Boss’ program, which is free and available to anybody. It provides financial tips, information and other resources to help people stay on top of their money. It’s about empowering people to be able to take control in their situation, whether that is helping move out of debt, or simply being able to manage their existing finances more effectively.
What are some of the biggest financial challenges you see Australians currently facing?
There are multiple financial issues we see regularly, but many are related to underlying problems such as unemployment, under-employment, addictions, housing affordability, relationship breakdown and situations involving domestic violence.
But we are also seeing people impacted by irresponsible financial practices that range from being ripped off by scams to predatory lending services from banks and other financial institutions. We have been working with other like-minded organisations to try to get legislation passed that would provide protections for people from payday loans and similar practices.
Outside of legislation we continue to work with other organisations, as well as financial institutions, to promote awareness of social justice issues that have a financial impact.
The Salvation Army marks Moneycare Day during Anti-Poverty Week every October, hosting events designed to encourage anyone having trouble with their finances to contact its free and confidential Moneycare service.
Moneycare is one of the largest providers of financial counselling and related services in Australia. Staff can help with a range of issues including money management and debt reduction.
To contact your nearest Moneycare service please visit salvos.org.au/moneycare or call 1800 007 007.