Mannie Edwards, a Team Manager in Financial Difficulty, is dedicated to ensuring that every case her team receives is treated with objectivity and fairness.
"The Financial Difficulty team works with applicants who have either previously experienced, or who are currently experiencing, financial difficulty with meeting their obligations under a range of credit contracts. This could include anything from issues with a credit card facility, a contract for a home, or small business loan.
"Our team tries to find solutions to each situation. Each case presents a set of different circumstances and requires a wide range of tools to reach a resolution. The ultimate goal is to enable both the financial services provider and the applicant to move forward. The team’s goal is to aid both parties in an unbiased and impartial way."
Mannie’s previous role at the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) involved seeking out fairness for all parties involved in a dispute. Mannie played a key role in instigating reporting to a regulatory body with regards to industry compliance.
"I worked with different products, powers and jurisdictions at the TIO, applying the same principles of fairness and good industry practice. I started on the phones as an enquiry officer for about a year and then progressed to an investigative role and subsequently to a senior investigative role, which I thoroughly enjoyed," Mannie said.
After about five years with the TIO, Mannie moved on to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). "My work in the enforcement division gave me valuable experience that I have been able to use in my current role, such as false and misleading conduct, unconscionable conduct and unfair contract terms.
"I find great value in working for an Ombudsman – far from wanting to penalise either party, our team aims to find solutions that work for everyone and are in line with good industry practice, ensuring that it is fair and reasonable given all the circumstances of the complaint."
Aside from her role as a Team Manager, Mannie is also Chair of FOS’s Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group (RAP WG). Endorsed by Reconciliation Australia in August 2016, FOS’s Reflect RAP focuses on building respectful, trusted relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, community groups and organisations. The RAP also guides FOS towards building a culturally competent workforce that provides an accessible and welcoming service to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers.
In her role as Chair, Mannie works with a team of 13 people from across FOS. "Each member brings expertise and experience that is valuable in delivering RAP initiatives. We’re individuals with a passion for reconciliation, but more importantly, as a group we’re able to consider the desired outcomes of the RAP from different, but ultimately complementary perspectives."
"The Reflect stage really marks the beginning of our formal reconciliation journey at FOS, with more to follow. We’re getting a sense of where our organisation stands with cultural competency and respect, and discovering what needs to be done to push us in the right direction," Mannie shared. "We want to provide the best service we possibly can to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples."
A key deliverable under the RAP, FOS will shortly begin an organisation-wide training program in cultural competency. This is one example of the RAP WG’s commitment to laying the right foundations for the next stage in the journey – the Innovate RAP, which will focus more closely on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment opportunities and supplier diversity.