Go to top of page

Annual performance statements

Statement by the accountable authority

I, Hamish McCormick, as the accountable authority of the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA), am pleased to present our annual performance statements for 2019–20, as required under paragraph 39(1)(a) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). In my opinion, these annual performance statements are based on properly maintained records, accurately reflect AFSA’s performance and comply with subsection 39(2) of the PGPA Act.

Signature

Hamish McCormick
Chief Executive
Inspector-General in Bankruptcy
Registrar of Personal Property Securities

17 September 2020

Our results and analysis

We deliver on our purpose by achieving performance measures that support our vision to be a world-class government service provider and a firm and fair regulator.

World-class government service provider icon
We know that to maintain confidence, effectiveness, efficiency and quality, we need to be able to support the changing needs of Australians by ensuring we deliver the right services, to the right people, at the right time and in the right form.

Firm and fair regulator icon
For the Australian public to continue to have confidence in the systems we administer, they need to trust us and our ability to adapt quickly to a changing environment. Business and the general community expect that we will regulate in a balanced way, creating an environment that makes compliance easier, while ensuring intentional misuse of the personal insolvency and personal property securities systems is dealt with appropriately.

To drive improved outcomes, we consult with our service users and stakeholders—so we know we’re heading in the right direction with our services and information products. We use surveys and activities to test ideas without bias, including through AFSAsandpit (our interactive research and testing website), and are open to all feedback—both good and bad. See further information about Our service users and Our stakeholders.

During 2019–20, we responded to the challenges COVID-19 presented by reprioritising some of our activities. While this has slowed our planned performance in some areas, we have performed better than expected in others due to the need to accelerate a number of digital activities and service initiatives so we can continue to operate and provide services effectively. More information about how COVID-19 has affected our performance in 2019–20 is available in the analysis of individual performance measures.

The following key has been used throughout the annual performance statements to indicate our achievements against key performance measures:

Achieved, Partially achieved and Not achieved

We fully achieved 14 of 17 performance measures for 2019–20, with two performance measures partially achieved and one not achieved (Figure 6). Some performance measures are new this year, or the way we define the performance criteria has been revised.

Figure 6: Performance snapshot against 2019–20 performance measures 82.3 per cent achieved; 11.8 per cent partially achieved; and 5.9 per cent not achieved.

Our result against each of the performance measures that contribute to the achievement of our four goals is summarised in Table 1. Details on each performance measure—the criterion, target, source and result—are provided under the relevant goal.

Table 1: Summary of results against 2019–20 performance measures

Performance criterion/target*

Reference

Result

Goal 1: Foster confidence

Engage with stakeholders to understand emerging issues and minimise harm caused by significant noncompliance

Foster confidence

Achieved

Engage with stakeholders to understand emerging issues and enhance information and services

Foster confidence

Achieved

Practical implementation of legislative reforms within mandated timeframes

Foster confidence

Achieved

Stakeholder engagements ensure that our planning identifies key areas of risk of noncompliance

Foster confidence

Achieved

Use our data holdings to prioritise, design and deliver an effective compliance program and improve compliance by stakeholders

Foster confidence

Partially achieved

Use our data holdings to prioritise, design and deliver an effective compliance program that focuses on more serious matters

Foster confidence

Achieved

Online registry services have high availability

Foster confidence

Achieved

Goal 2: Deliver value

Manage the cost of securing and protecting assets to optimise returns by benchmarking supplier costs and asset value trends

Deliver value

Achieved

Review and update cost recovery implementation statements when required

Deliver value

Achieved

Pay users and suppliers according to prescribed payment terms

Deliver value

Achieved

Goal 3: Effective services

Bankrupt estates that require administration are administered in a timely manner

Effective services

Achieved

Promptly conduct necessary investigations into insolvent estates and only apply further resources into those estates that are likely to result in the recovery of funds

Effective services

Achieved

Actively manage insolvent estates to produce timely outcomes for debtors and creditors

Effective services

Not achieved

Improvements to systems and business processes shorten the timeframes in which decisions are made in response to applications

Effective services

Achieved

Deliver an ongoing enhancement program—driven by business and community feedback, and legislative reform—to improve customer satisfaction

Effective services

Achieved

Deliver an ongoing enhancement program—driven by business and community feedback, and legislative reform—to decrease customer effort

Effective services

Partially achieved

Goal 4: Quality information

Implement a program of review that encompasses feedback in order to provide accessible, accurate, relevant and easily understood information

Quality information

Achieved

*This column shows the criterion, or combined criterion and target, for each performance measure.

Our performance results in 2019–20 demonstrate that we:

  • increased confidence in the systems we regulate by being a firm and fair regulator and driving improved outcomes—our compliance and regulatory programs continued to be well regarded and our registers operated with a high level of availability
  • delivered value by continuing to digitise our services
  • offered world-class government services and timely responses to applications from PPSR users, debtors, creditors and insolvency practitioners in ways that meet our service users’ needs
  • improved the quality and accessibility of information to help our service users make informed decisions.

Goal 1: foster confidence

In 2019–20, we continued to work with stakeholders to foster confidence in the personal insolvency and personal property securities systems we regulate and administer.

We have a range of service users and stakeholders with particular needs. For example, it’s important that we balance the needs of those seeking relief from financial hardship and the needs of creditors who are affected financially. We use our time, resources and regulatory powers in a way that strikes the right balance between these competing interests, helping us to preserve overall confidence in our systems.

We dedicate resources to address issues that can undermine confidence, such as harm caused by significant noncompliance with the law.

Working with stakeholders ensures we have an informed, proactive and preventative approach, and underscores the shared responsibility for compliance in the personal insolvency and personal property securities systems.

While many aspects of these systems are strong and support confidence, a number of challenges require ongoing attention, such as disrupting untrustworthy advisers and dealing with people who intentionally misuse and abuse the systems.

Performance measure

AFSA builds and maintains trusting and robust relationships with stakeholders to improve service delivery, understand our environment, and influence behaviour

Performance criterion

Engage with stakeholders to understand emerging issues and responsibilities in our environment, define mutual expectations, and be responsive to feedback

Target

Stakeholder feedback demonstrates outcomes achieved have assisted to create an environment that minimises harm caused by significant noncompliance with the law or a failure by the regulated community to adhere to an expected standard of behaviour

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, page 23; PBS 2019–20, pages 82 and 84

Result

Achieved

Working with various stakeholder groups across the insolvency and personal property securities sectors helps us to share information and improve our services by better understanding our service users’ needs. We continued to collaborate with frontline service providers to clarify what support and information clients need to make informed decisions and comply with their obligations under the legislation we administer.

‘[AFSA should] further expand the scenarios … also advertise this extensively in the community in various languages … to make this information available to everyone who may not have access to an insolvency practitioner.’—feedback from financial counsellor

Greater use of webinar and videoconferencing facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped us to maintain regular stakeholder engagement activities with industry groups, representative bodies and other government agencies.

We proactively engaged with financial counsellors to review and improve the information materials and tools available for people considering insolvency as a way of dealing with their unmanageable debt and for people who are already bankrupt. In consultation with financial counsellors, we developed case studies for our website to explain to people who are bankrupt what their obligations are in certain situations, such as when travelling overseas or earning an income during bankruptcy. Financial counsellors received positive feedback from their clients, who stated that they understood more clearly their obligations when travelling overseas and the requirement to let their bankruptcy trustee know about changes in their income. The case study on income obligations was particularly helpful when the income of many people who were bankrupt was impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

‘New case studies for bankruptcy are great for clearly spelling out some significant considerations of bankruptcy.’—feedback from financial counsellor via AFSAsandpit

In January 2020, we made the bankruptcy application form available online and also simplified the process to apply for bankruptcy. The new form incorporates feedback from our clients, staff and a range of stakeholders, including financial counsellors. As a result of feedback, we reduced the number of questions and simplified the language to improve data quality and user experience. We’ll continue to improve the form in 2020–21.

‘Not enough “STOP—ask for help” signs’ ‘[need] simpler language, as many people struggle with financial jargon.’—feedback via AFSAsandpit

We recognise the important role that trustees and debt agreement administrators play in the personal insolvency system. During the year, we worked with stakeholders to develop a shared understanding of good culture in the insolvency industry. We published a statement of ‘what good culture looks like’, which listed the key principles of good culture and scenarios covering each principle, and sought feedback from stakeholders. We then launched the ‘Integrity principles for trustees and debt agreement administrators’ in June 2020 at the Personal Insolvency Stakeholder Forum. These principles build on existing industry codes of conduct and set a benchmark for industry best practice. We will periodically review the principles, in consultation with industry, to ensure they remain relevant and contemporary.

We invited feedback from the Australian Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association (ARITA) on our self-assessment of the six key performance indicators in the Regulator Performance Framework. ARITA sought feedback from registered trustee members, who—via direct survey—responded positively to our assessment. Based on the consistently high survey results, ARITA fully endorsed our self-assessment ratings.

To support people interacting with the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) to comply with the law, we collaborated with stakeholder groups to establish processes to monitor use of the register and communicate our compliance expectations.

To help maintain the integrity of the data on the PPSR, we continued to remove registrations that were no longer valid. We reviewed and amended or discharged around 15,000 registrations. Further work to improve the integrity of data on the PPSR, including proactive contact with secured parties, has been placed on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow businesses to focus on their core activities.

We improved our ability to monitor misuse of the PPSR and issued more caution letters during the year in an attempt to deter misuse. We also reviewed more registration applications that raised our concerns about potential misuse of the register.

Performance measure

AFSA builds and maintains trusting and robust relationships with stakeholders to improve service delivery, understand our environment, and influence behaviour

Performance criterion

Engage with stakeholders to understand emerging issues and responsibilities in our environment, define mutual expectations, and be responsive to feedback

Target

Stakeholder feedback demonstrates outcomes achieved have enhanced information and services

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, page 23; PBS 2019–20, pages 82 and 84

Result

Achieved

In 2019–20, we focused on being more visible in the community and being ‘on the record’ about our role, services and responsibilities and the issues that support the health of the personal insolvency and personal property securities systems.

We worked to improve the experience of people trying to find information about insolvency or the PPSR by seeking feedback from users through AFSAsandpit and communicating service enhancements more widely. Our program to provide information using plain language continued, as did our ongoing collaboration with financial counsellors to deliver tools and case studies that help their clients get the right information, the first time. This included a popular new tool—tested through AFSAsandpit—for clients to calculate which formal insolvency options they are eligible for.

‘What a brilliant tool. It is so user friendly and explains in plain English what each option means. This will be very useful when having conversations with clients regarding their options.’—feedback from financial counsellor

We improved the way we deliver news to the Australian community through the AFSA website by including a search function for articles, making topic categories clearer, and showcasing articles. Substantial changes to insolvency requirements are pinned to the top of AFSA’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Twitter page
A pinned post on our Twitter page.

We reached out to people affected by bushfires and worked flexibly with those who needed our services. We deferred some activities that would affect people who were bankrupt and who were also impacted by the fires. We wrote to all personal insolvency practitioners encouraging them to take a similar approach.

In March 2020, the Australian Government announced temporary debt protection measures to support Australians financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We communicated these measures via direct email, social media, in the mainstream media, and in partnership with other government agencies such as the Australian Taxation Office. We used our social media accounts to reinforce AFSA as a trusted source of information and shared relevant content from other government agencies to amplify important messages.

In 2019–20, we launched our Facebook account. This coincided with the promotion of temporary debt protection, and reached more than 100,000 people in less than a month. Our Facebook presence allows us to network with other agencies and encourages them to share our messages, reaching more of the Australian community.

Facebook page
The AFSA Facebook page.

In response to feedback from our key PPSR stakeholders, we held regular workshops to better understand our users’ experience and simplify our services. We engaged with small businesses directly, and also through their advisers, peak bodies and industry associations, and with other government agencies to understand the issues faced by PPSR users. We learned that we needed to use simpler language and provide tailored, relevant and timely information about the benefits of the PPSR and how to use it.

'Trying to get your invoiced paid?' guide cover
Cover of the new 'Trying to get your invoices paid?' guide.

We launched a second edition of the PPSR business guide and a simplified version of the ‘Dispute a registration’ guide in November 2019. In March 2020, we shared—at the small business roundtable—a guide for small business on how to enforce a security agreement. Based on feedback from roundtable participants, we revised and launched the guide as ‘Trying to get your invoices paid?’ at the PPSR Stakeholder Forum in June 2020.

We also released the fact sheet ‘Your customer has gone broke’ at the PPSR Stakeholder Forum. We partnered with the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman to develop material for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including the Business Funding Guide and FitsME – Essential Guide to Business Funding, which include information about the PPSR. This was launched in July 2019 by the Ombudsman, Kate Carnell.

The small business roundtable considered additional support we could provide to small businesses impacted by the 2019–20 bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic. The roundtable identified a need for resources to help small businesses enforce their rights in an insolvency, resulting in collaboration with ARITA to develop resources for insolvency practitioners and small business owners.

Small business round table
Representatives from AFSA, other government agencies and industry bodies, including the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Australian Institute of Credit Management, the Australian Finance Industry Association, and Charted Accountants Australia and New Zealand, participate in the small business roundtable in March 2020.
We continued to use regular communication channels like the PPSR stakeholder forums and LinkedIn to promote our enhanced resources and services. We also encouraged other government agencies and industry bodies that support SMEs to share our information and services. We introduced PPSR News, a monthly subscriber e-newsletter featuring short articles to assist regular PPSR users.

We collaborated with key small business advocates such as the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, the Australian Institute of Credit Management, the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, as well as the Australian Government’s New Enterprise Incentive Scheme, to raise awareness of the PPSR and distribute materials at a wide range of events.

Personal property securities awareness-raising activities during 2019–20 were targeted at first-time car buyers. We developed consumer case studies for the website and participated in driver education programs and the ‘bstreetsmart’ event in New South Wales.

‘They [the PPSR case studies] are real-world situations that make it clear how the PPSR would be useful.’—feedback via AFSAsandpit

We also established a partnership with the Motor Trades Association of Australia, as people buying cars often seek advice from mechanics. As part of a pilot program with the Motor Trade Association of South Australia and the Northern Territory, a PPSR presentation was included in the association’s induction program. A survey of participants showed that almost 60 per cent of them had not heard of the PPSR, but 99 per cent would now use it when purchasing a used car.

COVID-19 restrictions stopped the majority of driver education and apprenticeship programs, as well as small business events and conferences, which affected our ability to engage with these groups. As a result, we refocused our efforts to develop additional content and resources to support those who assist and advise PPSR users.

PPSR exhibit
AFSA staff Rebecca Mitchell (left) and Amanda Bills exhibit the PPSR to apprentices at a Master Builders South Australia apprentice safety event, December 2019.

Performance measure

AFSA effectively discharges its compliance, regulatory and decision-making responsibilities

Performance criterion

Practical implementation of legislative reform

Target

Changes achieved as per mandated timeframes

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, page 23; PBS 2019–20, pages 82 and 84

Result

Achieved

During 2019–20, we continued to work with practitioners and other key stakeholders to implement key reforms in the Bankruptcy Amendment (Debt Agreement Reform) Act 2018. The reforms enhanced regulation of the debt agreement regime and improved industry standards by establishing enhanced registration and practice requirements. These included the obligation for debt agreement administrators to refer any evidence of an offence under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Bankruptcy Act) to the Inspector-General in Bankruptcy.

We observed a high level of compliance with the new requirements by registered debt agreement practitioners. We reviewed offence referrals from practitioners and advised those with low referral rates of their duty to refer offences. We also provided information to practitioners about offences applicable to debtors in a debt agreement, and developed material for the AFSA website to help registered debt agreement administrators learn more about offence referrals. We used targeted media releases and social media (LinkedIn) to keep practitioners abreast of any implementation issues.

Our Personal Insolvency Compliance Report 2018–19, released in December 2019, included detailed information on the successful implementation of the debt agreement law reform, including establishing industry-wide standards, external dispute resolution and a ‘fit and proper’ test.

Commencing in March 2020, the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Act 2020 provides for monetary thresholds and timeframes in the Bankruptcy Act to be changed by regulations. These amendments allowed temporary changes to the amount of debt required to be owed before a creditor can initiate involuntary bankruptcy proceedings against a debtor from $5,000 to $20,000; the period that debtors have to respond to a bankruptcy notice from 21 days to 6 months; and the period a person is protected from enforcement action by a creditor after presenting a declaration of intention to present a debtor’s petition from 21 days to 6 months.

To implement these amendments, we made changes to our operational and technological systems and processes, while also taking the opportunity to improve the relevant forms and supporting information.

As part of the temporary changes, we launched an online version of the declaration of intention form—renamed and rewritten in plain English as the temporary debt protection form. We also automated the assessment and acceptance process to provide a faster and more seamless experience for service users, and publicised the changes using different media.

Performance measure

AFSA effectively discharges its compliance, regulatory and decision-making responsibilities

Performance criterion

Stakeholder engagements ensure that our planning identifies key areas of risk of noncompliance

Target

Improved compliance by stakeholders

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, page 24; PBS 2019–20, pages 82 and 84

Result

Achieved

We are committed to making it easier for users of the personal insolvency system to comply with their obligations, so that we can focus on targeting deliberate noncompliance.

The Personal Insolvency Compliance Program highlights our regulatory areas of interest and identifies key areas of risk of noncompliance. The program is developed annually and informed by insights gained through stakeholder engagements, analysis of our data, and historical trends.

To ensure confidence in the system, it is important that insolvency practitioners are seen to be independent, and this can be undermined by untrustworthy advisers. To support the focus of the Personal Insolvency Compliance Program 2019–20 on disrupting untrustworthy advisers, we raised awareness of untrustworthy advice. This included publishing an article, ‘Independence: it’s what you know, not who you know’, aimed at warning those with unmanageable debt about using untrustworthy advisers. The article reinforces the importance of personal insolvency practitioner independence, and helps practitioners understand their own responsibilities regarding independence.

The Official Receiver expects those entering the personal insolvency system to provide complete and accurate information on their financial affairs at the time they submit their bankruptcy application. Stakeholders told us that people applying for bankruptcy were often daunted by the size of the form and confused by some of the questions. This led them to make mistakes, despite trying to do the right thing. We took this feedback on board and simplified the bankruptcy application form, which improved the quality and completeness of applications received.

We also developed an income contributions calculator—tested through AFSAsandpit—to help people who are bankrupt check if they need to make payments to their trustee from their income. The calculator helps people to comply with obligations as it allows them to be proactive and encourages them to talk with their trustee if they think they may have to make payments, rather than waiting for the trustee to make contact.

COVID-19 travel restrictions made it difficult for some people to provide the Official Receiver with the necessary forms to enter the personal insolvency system or apply for temporary debt protection. We worked closely with financial counsellors and consumer advocates to streamline the application process for those in financial distress who were unable to transact online or travel. This allowed us to continue to deliver services to isolated individuals and maintain equity of access for all Australians.

Performance measure

AFSA effectively discharges its compliance, regulatory and decision-making responsibilities

Performance criterion

Use our data holdings to prioritise, design and deliver an effective compliance program

Target

Improved compliance by stakeholders

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, page 24; PBS 2019–20, pages 82 and 84

Result

Partially achieved

We did not fully achieve our target during the year. Our planned implementation of machine learning to help identify people who may be at risk of noncompliance had to be delayed due to COVID-19-related activities. As this is the first time we have explored machine learning, we needed to have capacity to make sure it was fit for purpose and worked as expected.

We also intended to use data collected from the redesigned bankruptcy application form as an input into the development of our compliance program. In 2020–21, when the new form has been in use longer and we have collected a greater amount of quality data, we will be able to use this data to better inform our compliance program.

We make choices about where to direct our regulatory efforts by analysing data and information to determine the areas of greatest risk or harm. We use data intelligence to identify those who intentionally misuse and abuse the systems we administer. At the same time, we invest in measures to support voluntary compliance and help protect vulnerable users. This approach results in those who willingly comply and act in a way that supports system confidence being subject to less regulatory interest and intervention, leaving us to concentrate our efforts on areas where the need is greatest.

We talk openly with the regulated community to build an understanding of barriers to compliance, so we can implement measures that make it simpler to do the right thing and minimise regulatory burden. We use our coercive powers to assist practitioners to obtain information and assets, learn from the complaints and tip-offs we investigate, and take steps to impose sanctions where we uncover serious misconduct.

For the personal insolvency system to work effectively, trustee remuneration must be fair to all parties; therefore, we maintain close oversight of this area. When funds are available, insolvency practitioners should be appropriately rewarded for their highly skilled and often complex work. Equally, creditors and debtors must not be overcharged and should feel confident that the returns they receive are optimised.

To gain a deeper understanding of the practices used by registered trustees to set and charge fees, we conducted a review of trustee remuneration. We found no evidence to suggest systemic issues, but identified some unacceptable remuneration practices that need to be addressed in pockets of the insolvency profession. We also identified the need for creditors to be more engaged in the process to ensure it is fair. It’s only when all stakeholders affected by insolvency, and the profession itself, play their part that the system works effectively.

In 2019–20, we undertook a major initiative to improve compliance by those applying for bankruptcy. We simplified the application process by combining the statement of affairs and debtor’s petition forms and moving the service online in January 2020.

As a result, the statement of affairs form—a major source of data for our compliance programs—changed considerably. By reducing the number of questions and simplifying the language, users could more easily understand what’s required of them in the process, and the data quality improved. This led to fewer incomplete application forms being received, allowing us to follow up more quickly and effectively.

We continued to promote the Responsible PPSR registration management guide, which we developed jointly with stakeholders in 2018–19 to help PPSR users. This guide aims to improve PPSR compliance by helping prevent unlawful, misleading, unnecessary or redundant registrations, and help ensure those we receive are accurate and effective.

Performance measure

AFSA effectively discharges its compliance, regulatory and decision-making responsibilities

Performance criterion

Use our data holdings to prioritise, design and deliver an effective compliance program

Target

Change in profile of enforcement outcomes by focusing on more serious matters

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, page 24; PBS 2019–20, pages 82 and 84

Result

Achieved

We seek to create an environment that minimises harm caused by significant noncompliance with the law and supports the users of our systems—including debtors, creditors, insolvency practitioners, and those who register on and search the PPSR.

We consider all matters referred to us for investigation. To respond efficiently and effectively to offence referrals where potential offences are identified as less serious, we increased our use of official cautions. Forty-seven per cent of all investigation outcomes have resulted in an official caution.

Official cautions are good deterrents, as the alleged offender receives a written warning putting them on notice that their conduct has been identified and that any further similar breaches will be referred for prosecution. Official cautions are also a primary driver for positive compliance outcomes, particularly where people who have been made bankrupt by court order have not provided their statement of affairs to their bankruptcy trustee.

Increased use of official cautions has allowed us to focus our resources on serious matters that have the greatest impact and cause the most harm in the personal insolvency system. We undertake appropriate enforcement and prosecution action against those who recklessly or intentionally seek to avoid or defraud their statutory obligations or misuse the PPSR. This includes debtors, people who are bankrupt, personal insolvency practitioners and anyone providing untrustworthy advice.

During 2019–20, 65 per cent of the matters referred for investigation related to serious offences. This is up from 46 per cent in 2018–19 and 63 per cent in 2017–18.

Our enforcement work continues to be an important means of punishing significant misconduct and, therefore, influencing behaviour. Overall, our prosecutions attracted sound penalties, ranging from fines to terms of imprisonment.

Performance measure

ICT services are highly reliable and available

Performance criterion

Online registry services have high availability

Target

Proportion of online registry services availability greater than or equal to 99%

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, page 24; PBS 2019–20, pages 82 and 84

Result

Achieved—99%

Users of government services expect to be able to access the information they need, when and where they need it. We offer a range of registry services online and continue to expand our online external-facing services.

The two main registers we operate, the PPSR and the National Personal Insolvency Index (NPII), are extremely important to the Australian economy. They support informed commercial decision-making, assist with the management of financial risk, and help provide access to finance. Therefore, it is imperative that they are accurate and operate with a high level of availability.

We calculate system ‘availability’ based on the time our services can be accessed by the public, less periods when the system cannot be accessed—not including scheduled maintenance windows.

We constantly monitor the availability of our services during working hours, which helps us identify and deal with issues that could impact our ability to provide ongoing services to our clients.

The online registry services we monitor include:

  • the PPSR—a real-time online system that contains data on security interests and registrations of personal property. It is not a register of title or ownership of personal property but acts as a noticeboard of security interests
  • Bankruptcy Register Search—a service that provides access to personal insolvency information about individuals directly from the NPII—an electronic record of all personal insolvency administrations in Australia. The NPII can be accessed for a fee to check an individual’s formal insolvency status and history to help users make informed business decisions
  • Debt Agreements Online—the service for personal insolvency practitioners to submit debt agreement–related forms, enable voting activities and make current status information available. Debt agreement proposals can only be submitted through this online service
  • the Australian Government’s Identity Matching Services—IDMatch—used to help verify a person’s identity as part of the process of setting up a Bankruptcy Online account to enable a user to submit a bankruptcy application form
  • Official Receiver notices—a service where registered trustees and their staff apply for and access requests for assistance to obtain information or recover assets in a bankruptcy
  • creditor bankruptcy notices online—a service that allows creditors to apply for a formal demand for payment
  • a portal for personal insolvency practitioners to provide information required under legislation about the personal insolvencies under their control.

We also provide a business-to-government (B2G) service that enables authorised clients to transact with us from their own systems over the internet. While most users use the web interface to access online services, our larger users benefit from a direct B2G connection from their internal systems.

Activity in searches undertaken is demand driven. The number of searches of the PPSR increased in 2019–20 by 3 per cent compared to the previous year, while NPII searches decreased by 4 per cent (Figure 7).

Figure 7: PPSR and NPII searches, 2019–20  9,950,711 PPSR searches and 394,319 NPII searches in 2019–20; 9,627,178 PPSR searches and 411,531 NPII searches in 2018–19.

Case study: the importance of positive culture

Decorative image
As the personal insolvency regulator, we work to resolve systemic issues by targeting areas of concern.

As part of the Personal Insolvency Compliance Program 2019–20, we collaborated with personal insolvency professionals to promote the important role that positive culture has in the personal insolvency system.

Positive culture can support fairness when dealing with stakeholders, especially vulnerable people in the community. It can also help to improve trust and confidence in the work of the profession. In contrast, failings of organisational culture can foster poor decision-making or poor behaviour, leading to misconduct.

During 2019–20, we partnered with the personal insolvency profession to describe the intent and characteristics of a personal insolvency practitioner who embraces good culture. In consultation with the Australian Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association, the Association of Independent Insolvency Practitioners, the Personal Insolvency Professionals Association, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and Financial Counselling Australia, we developed the ‘Integrity principles for trustees and debt agreement administrators’.

Released in June 2020, the principles set an industry best-practice benchmark for practitioners—registered trustees, registered debt agreement administrators and the Official Trustee—who often have to strike a difficult balance between competing interests and pressures.
These principles will evolve over time.

Goal 2: deliver value

We are committed to being cost-effective and efficient while we minimise red tape.

As a cost-recovery agency, we focus on delivering value to service users and stakeholders in a commercially sound manner. We regularly review our fees to ensure they are appropriate to meet the costs of delivering our services. We make this process transparent by publishing our proposed fee schedule and inviting stakeholders to provide comment.

As the custodian of property under proceeds of crime legislation, we operate in a niche area. We continue to work to reduce the cost of managing this property and red tape.

Performance measure

AFSA optimises funds available from proceeds of crime prevention activities

Performance criterion

Manage the cost of securing and protecting assets to optimise returns by benchmarking supplier costs and asset value trends

Target

Effectively manage the value of assets and cash held in trust in accordance with relevant directions and guidelines for potential beneficiaries

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, page 25; PBS 2019–20, pages 82

Result

Achieved

We continued to find ways to cost-effectively protect and secure assets identified as proceeds of crime. We received unique and unusual assets to look after, and researched the best way to sell them to maximise the sale price. For example, we discovered unidentified water entitlements attached to real estate we were selling in relation to court orders. Our investigations revealed that water entitlements could be sold separately from real estate to achieve higher returns. We worked with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to get new court orders permitting assets to be sold separately, thereby optimising funds available for crime prevention activities.

We collaborated with the AFP to increase the number of assets sold before seizure to reduce the expenses we incur by storing assets. We also engaged market experts to sell unusual or high-value assets like yachts and luxury motor vehicles.

The government’s response to COVID-19 has meant that many of the assets under our control will remain with us until they can be sold in an appropriate and safe way. This could lead to us holding onto assets longer than usual, which will reduce funds available for crime prevention activities.

Performance measure

AFSA is financially sustainable and fiscally responsible

Performance criterion

Review and update cost recovery implementation statements* when required

Target

Complete cost recovery implementation statement* reviews and required updates by 30 June

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, page 25; PBS 2019–20, pages 82 and 84

Result

Achieved

*Referred to as 'cost recovery impact statements' in Corporate Plan 2019–20.

AFSA is a full cost recovery agency. Our funding arrangements are outlined in cost recovery implementation statements for the two programs we administer—the PPSR and personal insolvency.

We regularly review our fees and charges to ensure they adequately meet the cost of providing our services. Transparency and consultation are key features of our fee review process. We engage with our stakeholders and invite them to review proposed changes and provide feedback.

A review of our cost recovery implementation statements in 2019–20 revealed that no changes were required in the current year. Due to the impact of COVID-19, uncertainty within the sector and associated community expectations, we will review our fees and charges again during 2020–21.

Performance measure

AFSA is financially sustainable and fiscally responsible

Performance criterion

Pay users and suppliers according to prescribed payment terms

Target

Proportion of user and supplier payments made according to prescribed payment terms greater than or equal to 95%

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, page 25; PBS 2019–20, pages 82 and 84

Result

Achieved—96%

We paid 96 per cent of invoices according to Australian Government payment terms—within 20 days of receipt.

Where invoices were paid outside payment terms, there were generally administrative queries about complex supplier and payment arrangements.

It’s important we continue to pay vendors in accordance with prescribed government payment terms to help supplier cash flow and maintain positive relationships between vendors and the government.

We understand the impact COVID-19 has had on small to medium-sized businesses and we support the sector by paying these suppliers quickly—aiming to pay their invoices within seven days of receipt.

Case study: delivering value through digital services

Decorative image
In 2018–19, we studied people’s journeys when trying to apply for bankruptcy. The study identified inefficiencies and frustrations, including the need for applicants to accurately complete multiple long and complicated forms and submit them through traditional channels, such as by post, in person, or scanned and sent via email.

In January 2020, following considerable consultation with financial counsellors, insolvency practitioners, peak industry bodies and other volunteer testers on our AFSAsandpit platform, we launched the first stage of our new digital Insolvency Services portal—Bankruptcy Online. The portal includes a new single bankruptcy application form, replacing the statement of affairs and debtor’s petition, and uses a straightforward question sequence, clear instructions (guided by behavioural economics principles), additional questions to capture modern types of assets, and plain English.

Bankruptcy Online enables people in financial hardship to complete and submit a bankruptcy application form online by creating an online profile, which allows users to save their application form and complete it over multiple sessions. In addition, applicants can now prove their identity using the Australian Government’s Identity Matching Services (IDMatch), removing the need for them to manually sign forms.

With the simpler form and digital process, we have reduced:

  • the number of incomplete forms with errors or inconsistencies
  • calls for assistance to complete the form by two-thirds.

Goal 3: effective services

It’s important we make well-informed decisions and provide timely responses to applicants, to maintain confidence in the systems we administer. We provide a professional service that meets the needs of our users, which is why we have focused on transitioning services to digital channels and increasing our online service offerings.

We accept that the services we provide will always be a compromise between competing requirements from our wide-ranging user groups. We aim to strike the balance between providing support to people at a time when they are under significant financial pressure, while offering a more streamlined application process.

Performance measure

AFSA delivers fair, transparent and predictable services

Performance criterion

Bankrupt estates that require administration are administered in a timely manner

Target

Data obtained through profiling estates and bankrupts is effectively used to identify assets, areas for investigation, and likely income contributors

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, page 26; PBS 2019–20, page 82

Result

Achieved

We redesigned the statement of affairs form when the bankruptcy application process was streamlined. We reduced the number of questions and simplified the language to improve data quality. The form is now more straightforward and captures the data we need to identify the bankruptcies we want to focus on. These include administrations that may require investigation; where offences against the Bankruptcy Act have been identified; and where there is likely to be a return to creditors.

We also redesigned the form we send to people who are bankrupt and earning an income, to identify those who are required to make contributions from their income. As part of this process, we reviewed the criteria we use to identify and target those people who are bankrupt and may be potential contributors. We expect COVID-19 to reduce the number of people required to make contributions and the amount they may be required to pay, but we are unable to determine the exact impact at this stage.

We work with registered trustees and ARITA to identify and transfer bankruptcies that are better suited to being managed by the private sector. These include administrations that are large, complex, significant assets and those that require detailed investigations. We continue to refine our processes for identifying these bankruptcies and carrying out the transfers.

Our targeted profiling activities have assisted us in identifying and prioritising the administrations we need to focus on. This important work has allowed us to redirect resources to implement the Australian Government’s COVID-19-related legislative reforms.

Performance measure

AFSA delivers fair, transparent and predictable services

Performance criterion

Promptly conduct necessary investigations into insolvent estates and only apply further resources into those estates that are likely to result in the recovery of funds

Target

Proportion of administered estates finalised beyond 6 months that result in the recovery of funds or a distribution to creditors is greater than or equal to 50%

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, page 26; PBS 2019–20, page 82

Result

Achieved—64%

It’s important we use our resources in an efficient and commercially sound way so that creditors benefit from the recovery of funds.

We continued to implement changes to how we collect and use information provided by people who become bankrupt, to improve our ability to assess where we should focus our efforts. The information we receive through the redesigned bankruptcy application form has helped us assess and identify administrations likely to offer a return to creditors and better target our resources.

Many of the administrations that are more than 6 months old are financially complex and may have barriers that prevent the quick sale of assets. Some of these remain active beyond 6 months, as we have an obligation to identify and refer potential offences against the Bankruptcy Act and other legislation.

COVID-19 restrictions have impacted our ability to sell assets in an appropriate and safe way. This has led to us holding on to assets longer than usual, impacting on the funds available for distribution to creditors.

Performance measure

AFSA delivers fair, transparent and predictable services

Performance criterion

Actively manage insolvent estates to produce timely outcomes for debtors and creditors

Target

Proportion of active administrations that are greater than 18 months old is less than or equal to 50%

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, page 26; PBS 2019–20, page 82

Result

Not achieved—59%

We maintained our focus on achieving timely outcomes for creditors and debtors by efficiently administering bankruptcies and distributing funds to creditors promptly. At 30 June 2020, 59 per cent of our active administrations were over 18 months old, above our target of 50 per cent.

During 2019–20, we reviewed our processes and systems and improved our ability to record and track the progress of active cases. We also enhanced reporting to allow managers to focus on cases not tracking as planned.

Some people who are bankrupt are required to make contributions to their trustee from their income. These payments are made over the three-year period of bankruptcy, leaving a large number of administrations active for more than 18 months. Approximately 30 per cent of administrations managed by the Official Trustee include contributions and are likely to be active for at least three years.

Over recent years, we have seen an increase in the complexity of the business arrangements and financial affairs of those using bankruptcy to deal with unmanageable debt. A considerable amount of time is required to understand and progress these administrations.

Owing to COVID-19 restrictions, we were unable to undertake in-person valuations or terminate leases, impacting our ability to sell assets like real property and motor vehicles. We also saw an increase in hardship requests and asset negotiations referencing COVID-19. In addition, current or pending legal actions relating to administrations have been delayed or placed on hold due to changes in how the courts are operating.

The Official Trustee administers a large number of bankruptcies where what is owed on the assets exceeds their value, and therefore the assets do not generate a return to creditors. These administrations remain active and continue to be monitored. Where the assets include house properties, mortgagees have increasingly elected to take no action at this point in time.

We don’t expect the number of active administrations greater than 18 months old to fall over the next few years, although the mix of administrations is likely to change. We anticipate an increase in those with assets where what’s owed on the asset exceeds its value, as well as a reduction in contribution matters due to COVID-19-related income changes.

Performance measure

AFSA delivers fair, transparent and predictable services

Performance criterion

Improvements to systems and business processes shorten the timeframes in which decisions are made in response to applications

Target

Timeliness of decisions made within 4 days in response to applications is greater than or equal to 99%

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, page 26; PBS 2019–20, page 82

Result

Achieved—99%

We continued to improve our registry services to make it easier for people applying for bankruptcy to interact with us. Along with our new bankruptcy application form, we improved other forms that can accompany a bankruptcy application (such as a trustee’s consent to act and the request to supress or correct information on the NPII).

‘I have found the online application simple and easy to use and we have immediate acknowledgement of a submitted application, which is fantastic. One client had received notification within a week, which was also helpful in their situation.’—feedback from financial counsellor

Since the new forms became available to users in January 2020, more bankruptcy applications have been received online. This has made it quicker and easier for us to assess applications and make prompt decisions that provide relief to debtors.

In 2019–20, the number of new personal insolvency administrations decreased by 23.3 per cent compared to the previous year (Figure 8).

Figure 8: New personal insolvency administrations, 2019–20 20,762 new personal insolvency administrations in 2019–20, down from 27,058 in 2018–19

Performance measure

AFSA maintains fit-for-purpose services that support consumers in an innovative financial sector

Performance criterion

Deliver an ongoing enhancement program, which is driven by business and community feedback, and legislative reform

Target

Improved customer satisfaction

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, page 27; PBS 2019–20, pages 82 and 84

Result

Achieved

To improve the satisfaction of people using our services, it’s essential we understand their needs and experiences. Complaints are an important measure in determining what people think of our services.

Effective complaint handling is fundamental to the provision of quality service. As we strive to be a world-class service provider, we need to take the view that complaints aren’t bad; rather, they are an important source of intelligence on aspects of our work that have caused others pain or disadvantage—and they can be used as an opportunity to review and improve our services.

Over the past 12 months, we have made a considerable effort to highlight the value and power of complaints to our employees and improve our complaints recording. As a result, we received 176 complaints in 2019–20 (Figure 9), a significant increase on the 751 received across the agency in 2018–19. We see this increase as a good thing as it shows that our message about reporting complaints is getting through. The more feedback we receive from the users of our services, the better we can make our services. Put simply, if we don’t know about the issues, we can’t fix them!

Figure 9: Complaints recorded about our services, 2019–20 168 complaints about insolvency services and 8 complaints about the operation of the PPSR

1 This figure is for total complaints received during 2018–19. This differs from the figure published in the 2018–19 annual report, which was for complaints recorded by our National Service Centre only.

AFSAsandpit provides a platform for members of the public and stakeholders to contribute to the redevelopment of our services during the design phase—when it’s easier to consider and incorporate feedback. This increases our confidence that our services will meet user needs when they’re launched. In 2019–20, more users joined our AFSAsandpit research group.

During the year, we worked with financial counsellors to improve the financial capability content on our website. We tested new bankruptcy case studies and our income contributions calculator with a focus group of financial counsellors. We also sought feedback from the group on an early prototype of our ‘bankruptcy timeline’, our ‘myth vs fact’ resource series and a new eligibility calculator tool.

Meeting with financial counsellors.
Financial counsellors join AFSA staff to discuss our financial capability resources in Melbourne, November 2019.

‘I think the case studies are terrific and a great way for our clients to get information on bankruptcy and the impact this has ... as well as some other practical things that are happening, e.g. travelling overseas and income contributions. Definitely something similar for debt agreement case studies would be helpful as well.’ —feedback from financial counsellor via AFSAsandpit

We added three debt agreement case studies to our website in response to a request from financial counsellors. These case studies provide personalised information on varying, terminating and applying for a debt agreement.

In 2019–20, we continued our efforts to refine our information resources. We redesigned the Personal Insolvency Regulator quarterly newsletter, improving readability and accessibility by moving it to a digital format. This also allowed readers to find archived articles more easily. We introduced a question and answer section to the newsletter in response to reader feedback.

Bankruptcy legislation was amended to introduce temporary debt relief measures to support people facing financial difficulty due the COVID-19 pandemic. To publicise the changes, we created a new ‘Temporary debt protection’ section on our website.

We also met regularly with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and ARITA to identify any gaps in personal insolvency information being provided to the sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through AFSAsandpit, we tested four PPSR case studies designed to help consumers understand the benefits of doing a used car search. The case studies focused on helping service users understand common issues people encounter when buying a used car. These include outstanding loans, stolen vehicles, undisclosed write-offs and the ongoing Takata airbag recall. We refined the case studies by incorporating user feedback before releasing them on the PPSR website.

‘They [the PPSR case studies] are simple to follow and break down the important information easily for the reader. They provide all the information a motorist would need when buying a used car. Examples are a great way to link it back to people for them to understand.’—feedback via AFSAsandpit

Performance measure

AFSA maintains fit-for-purpose services that support consumers in an innovative financial sector

Performance criterion

Deliver an ongoing enhancement program, which is driven by business and community feedback, and legislative reform

Target

Decreased customer effort

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, page 27; PBS 2019–20, pages 82 and 84

Result

Partially achieved

While we made progress in our enhancement program during 2019–20, we believe that we only partially met this target as we were unable to deliver as much as we had anticipated. This was due to our need to temporarily refocus our resources and program priorities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We aim to deliver a better user experience by making our services easy to access, and by ensuring that service users find it straightforward to interact with us and comply with our requirements.

Ninety-six per cent of people who contacted our National Service Centre had their call answered in 4 minutes, while only 2.8 per cent of people abandoned their call—down from 9.8 per cent in 2018–19. In 2019–20, we implemented a new approach to managing email enquiries to improve response times and more accurately record the volume of email enquiries. We responded to 97 per cent of emails within two business days, which is an improvement from the previous year. Enhancements to the PPSR reduced the length of calls to the National Service Centre by almost a minute—down from 9 minutes per call to just over 8 minutes per call.

Callers have the option of completing a client survey after their call to provide feedback and indicate how satisfied they are with our service. This information helps us to identify opportunities to improve our processes, information and services, and decrease the effort required by our service users. In 2019–20, 92 per cent of callers who completed the survey agreed that we made it easy for them to complete their enquiry. While this is a slight decrease from 2018–19 (93 per cent), our 2019–20 data only represents 9 months of the reporting period due to the client survey being unavailable while the National Service Centre transitioned to a new contact centre solution.

Figure 10 shows that total phone enquiries to the National Service Centre decreased by just over 10 per cent in 2019–20 compared to the previous year, while total email enquiries stood at 181,093 in 2019–20.2

Figure 10: Enquiries to National Service Centre, 2019–20  AFSA’s National Service Centre received 89,142 phone enquiries in 2019–20, down from 99,336 received in 2018–19; and received 332 average daily phone calls in 2019–20, down from 395 received in 2018–19. AFSA's National Service Centre received 181,093 email enquiries in 2019–20.

2 A comparison to total email enquiries in 2018–19 is not possible due to a changed data collection methodology.

We undertook a range of research activities to help understand the issues that infrequent users of the PPSR experience. As a result, we simplified the account creation process and streamlined users’ first interaction with the PPSR to reduce the number of steps. We also conducted external market research to review the PPSR amendment demand process and to understand the issues experienced by low-volume and first-time PPSR users. We identified opportunities to simplify and streamline the process, which we will focus on delivering in 2020–21.

We will continue to collaborate with the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government and conduct market research in 2020–21 to enhance our services and reduce customer effort.

Case study: operating remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic

Decorative image
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the landscape for many organisations, businesses and people across Australia, and led to a ‘new normal’ for us all. We made several adjustments to the way we work to ensure that our services continued to operate effectively and our service users were supported during the disruption.

To cater for those whose employment and working arrangements changed as a result of the pandemic, and address the temporary changes to insolvency legislation, we implemented measures to assist vulnerable service users. These included:

  • a process for Financial Counselling Australia–registered counsellors to submit bankruptcy and temporary debt protection applications on behalf of isolated clients who were unable to physically sign documents in front of an authorised witness due to COVID-19 travel restrictions
  • a mechanism for people who were bankrupt to defer their compulsory income contributions. People who usually made contribution payments over $5,000 were able to apply for a deferral or a payment reduction, while contributions under $5,000 were automatically deferred.

To transition our employees and contractors to working from home during the response to COVID-19, we brought forward plans to upgrade our operating systems and implemented new remote access and videoconferencing environments. This was a considerable undertaking, requiring a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure our systems were connected and data was secure. Due to the dedication and quick thinking of our information and communications technology team, we were able to replicate our employees’ user experience of logging into their office desktop when working from home. This helped ensure that we were able to continue to offer effective services to our users.

Goal 4: quality information

One of our key challenges is to ensure that people in financial hardship have access to the right information at the right time so they can make an informed decision that is most appropriate for their circumstances.

While we are making progress in this space, we acknowledge that we need to find better ways of linking people who are bankrupt, and those considering bankruptcy, to information to build their financial literacy and help them deal with their financial circumstances. We also continue to simplify and improve access to information about the PPSR.

Performance measure

AFSA improves access to, consistency of and quality of information services

Performance criterion

Implement a program of review that encompasses feedback, to ensure the security, reliability and integrity of information, and promote accessibility

Target

Proportion of people who agree we provide accessible, accurate, relevant and easily understood information

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–20, page 27; PBS 2019–20, pages 82 and 84

Result

Achieved

When someone has become bankrupt or is considering bankruptcy, it’s important that they have access to tools and information so they understand what’s required of them, the consequences of bankruptcy, and how it will affect their lives.

During the year, we made a number of enhancements to the AFSA website to improve content, tools, navigation, readability and accessibility against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. To improve the quality of our web information, before launching new products and internet pages on the website, we gather user feedback by releasing content through AFSAsandpit.

During 2019–20, we released new internet pages such as ‘Budgeting’ and ‘Dealing with debt’, to support people in financial difficulty by providing easy-to-understand information, tips for managing their situation, and links to other government resources for further assistance.

‘Clearly written, easy to understand, well thought out and put together. Good job.’
‘NPII search—arrived here via Google—this page tells you all the info in the NPII, but not how to do the search, so not very helpful.’
—user feedback received about AFSA website content, which contributes to ongoing improvements to our information

We launched an interactive, mobile-friendly insolvency eligibility tool designed to help clients understand the formal insolvency options they may be eligible for based on their individual circumstances. We continue to improve this tool using feedback.

‘Going through financial difficulty can be quite traumatic and people who are already under a lot of stress don’t want or have time to sit and read pages of information—this tool makes checking your eligibility fast and simple.’—feedback via AFSAsandpit

To make the new eligibility tool more accessible, we also designed a printable version for financial counsellors to use to assist people who have no or limited access to the internet. In addition, we developed an easy-to-read table to compare the consequences of different formal insolvency options.

To coincide with the release of the new bankruptcy application form in January 2020, we made improvements to other forms linked to the bankruptcy process, updated our frequently asked questions and developed a new technical support section. With all of these, we used plain English and made other improvements to help users make informed decisions about the most appropriate insolvency option for their circumstances. Financial counsellors told us that the updated information is simple and clear and has made it easier for clients to understand their obligations.

‘Great job reducing the form from two pages to one.’—feedback via AFSAsandpit about the updates to the consent to act form, which was re-released with the new bankruptcy application form

We started a redesign of the PPSR website to make it easier to use. The content has been rewritten in plain English and jargon removed so it’s easier to understand. We also reorganised the content to remove unnecessary duplication. We enhanced navigation and the search function so users can find what they need easily. Accessibility has improved, with the new website now meeting WCAG 2.1 Level AA accessibility standards. We also considered the different environments users may access our site from, including through different browsers and devices, and ensured it will work on slower connections.

We plan to release a beta version of our new PPSR website in July 2020 to give users the opportunity to become familiar with the new design and layout and provide feedback. This process allows us to make further improvements ahead of the website’s official launch.

During 2019–20, PPSR blog posts and short website articles provided insights into the different uses of the PPSR and provided links to further resources. These posts and articles included the following topics for businesses:

  • Save your regular customers to ‘favourites’
  • What’s a GONI and why have we improved it?
  • Registration templates for regular users
  • Hey Tradies!

We will continue to work with stakeholders to provide information in different ways and from other trustworthy sources to support people using our personal insolvency and personal property securities services.

The total number of sessions on the AFSA website increased by 8 per cent in 2019–20 compared to 2018–19, while the total number of PPSR website sessions in 2019–20 increased by 34 per cent compared to the previous year (Figure 11).

Figure 11: AFSA and PPSR website sessions, 2019–20  In 2019–20, the AFSA website had 1,136,731 sessions, up from 1,051,043 sessions in 2018–19 and the PPSR website had 2,998,484 sessions in 2019–20, up from 2,234,022 sessions in 2018–19

Case study: improving information to support Australians

As part of our partnership with the National Financial Capability Strategy, we developed a variety of new online resources. We know that people who are struggling with their finances often feel vulnerable, stressed and overwhelmed. Providing people with clear, simple and targeted information to help them make informed decisions about their financial circumstances is our priority.

Following consultation with financial counsellors and the community, we launched 17 case studies, providing practical scenarios to help people understand the benefits of using the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) when buying a used car, or how they may be impacted by the different personal insolvency options. Financial counsellors have indicated that the case studies have helped people who are overwhelmed and find it hard to process the volume and complexity of information available on our website.

We also launched a range of tailored information and new tools to build financial capability, including:

  • resources to assist small business owners in understanding how the PPSR can help them
  • a series of short videos that bust myths about bankruptcy
  • an interactive online eligibility tool to help people who are struggling to pay their debts understand what their options are based on their individual circumstances
  • an income contributions calculator to help people check if they need to make compulsory payments during bankruptcy, and assist people who are considering if bankruptcy is the right option for them
  • the ‘Managing money’ section on our website, which provides clear information about budgeting, dealing with debt, and where Australians in financial difficulty can find help.

While some of these changes may be small, they have had a big impact for people facing financial hardship—making personal insolvency easier to understand and helping them make informed decisions about their financial situation.

Decorative image