1. New website launched
For all those consumers and caseworkers who have used our online resources in the past you will be pleased to learn we have now relaunched all of our great self-help tools and they are better than ever. Financial Rights has over the years developed three separate websites: financialrights.org.au, insurancelaw.org.au and our motor vehicle accident portal mva.financialrights.org.au. We have now combined all 3 sites into our main Financial Rights domain and re-launched all of our self-help legal information resources in one gorgeous new modern site.
Read the articles below to get a better understanding of all the new features on our website and how they can help you resolve disputes with financial service providers, either for yourself, or for a client you are helping.
2. Debt Problem Solver
After the success of our Motor Vehicle Accident Problem Solver we have now developed and launched an interactive online tool for people in NSW who are in financial stress and are not sure where to start. This is a unique and invaluable tool for consumers and caseworkers alike. Whether you have been scammed, need help with a debt, want to access your credit report or are just struggling with cost of living increases, this interactive tool can get you started and give you tips on what you can do.
The Debt Problem Solver makes it easy to print or share the tailored legal information you will receive after answering a few simple questions. The free tool does not record or store any of your personal data, and you can use it as many times as you like. The tool will give you tips on how to raise a dispute or gather more information. There are links to dispute services and organisations where you can get free information and advice.
3. Plain Language expert re-writes fact sheets
The Financial Rights Legal Centre has produced and published legal information fact sheets since our inception 35 years ago. These resources have always been developed with regular people in mind, but we know they can sometimes be dense, complex, inaccessible and unhelpful to people dealing with financial stress.
As a part of our website redevelopment we wanted to do everything we could to ensure our legal information resources are as useful and accessible as possible, so we hired a plain language expert to re-write more than 50 of our legal information fact sheets.
Plain language (also called plain writing) is communication an audience can understand the first time they read or hear it. In general it is writing that is clear, concise, well-organised, and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience.
We know that language that is plain to one set of readers may not be plain to others. Material is in plain language if an audience can:
- Find what they need
- Understand what they find the first time they read or hear it
- Use what they find to meet their needs
If you take a look at some of our fact sheets since we have re-launched the website you may notice they all have a Main Ideas section up front, a table of contents with anchored links to sections below, and case studies have been removed. Our plain language expert helped us harmonise all of the pronouns, ensured we use active voice not passive, kept our sentences and paragraphs short and made sure we were using common, everyday words.
4. Mob Strong Debt Help – new logo, new content, same incredible support for First Nations people
Mob Strong Debt Help is a free nationwide legal advice and financial counselling service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Mob Strong now has a dedicated section of the Financial Rights website with culturally appropriate graphics and content designed for First Nations consumers.
We are so excited that the re-launched website now contains many pages of new culturally appropriate content. All of it has been drafted by our First Nations team and written with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audience in mind. There is tailored content around energy & water, phone & internet, money problems, debt, funeral products, car problems, housing and super & insurance.
All of the new Mob Strong artwork was created by Dixon Patten at Bayila Creative. The Mob Strong logo was guided by the attributes of the service: providing connection, a culturally safe place, education and awareness leading to empowerment, advocacy, support and communication. Dixon used symbols to convey the coming together of people and community for the support that Mob Strong offers. Elements within the artwork have been chosen for their strength and growth – both aspects of Mob Strong’s work to share with their callers. The gum leaves for growth through education, the shields for protection within this culturally safe space, and the healing stones to represent the counselling work of Mob Strong.
5. Focus on Accessibility
The main impetus behind the redevelopment of our websites was ensuring we are achieving best practice when it comes to online accessibility. We wanted our online tools to be usable for all visitors, including those with disabilities, impairments, and limitations.
You may notice two green icons that follow you everywhere you go on our website. One is a globe icon which takes the user to a page with information about interpreter services in 15 different languages. The other icon is an accessibility menu that can be opened and used on any page. It includes features which will increase the text size or spacing, increase colour contract or saturation, hide images or pause animations or even change the entire page into Dyslexia friendly font.
We re-linked all of our hyperlinks to ensure users who are blind or have low vision and are using screen reader software will be able to navigate the site. We also made sure that none of the new features used too much bandwidth or were animated which can make it hard for users in remote areas.
Keeping accessibility in focus is also an ongoing goal. We currently have plans to ensure all of the non-text items on the site offer text alternatives so that non-sighted individuals can understand them. We also have future plans to include more simple animations and image-based information for users with lower literacy.
6. Caseworker Resources Tab
We know one of the biggest audiences of our online resources are financial counsellors and community lawyers across Australia. We wanted to make it easy for caseworkers to find all of our legal information tools. There is a blue tab at the top of the screen on every page of the site which will quickly navigate you to the resources we know caseworkers rely on.
There is a fact sheet index for those caseworkers that know what they are looking for and don’t want to click through various topic pages to get to a specific fact sheet. There is also quick link to all of our sample letters and our interactive problem solvers.
We currently have links to resources that have been developed with financial counsellors in mind like our Bankruptcy Toolkit and our Credit Reporting & Financial Abuse Guide. We will be adding and enhancing these tools over the next year, so bookmark this page!
One final tip for caseworks: we have renamed most of our legal information fact sheets and changed the permalinks accordingly, so any old bookmarks you might have made for our websites in the past are likely broken.
Please reach out and let us know what you think about the new website. If you see any typos or broken links we always appreciate that information as well.