By 2030, global debt could rise to 100% of GDP as per the IMF (credit: Tanya Spronk, SIL)

MAF flies financial counsellors to Australia’s far-flung Elcho Island

29th April 2024

By 2030, global debt could rise to 100% of GDP as per the IMF (credit: Tanya Spronk, SIL)

By 2030, global debt could rise to 100% of GDP as per the IMF (credit: Tanya Spronk, SIL)

As world leaders gather at this year’s World Economic Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, its president Borge Brende warns of global debt rising to levels not seen since the 1820s. Even Elcho Island residents in Australia’s remote Northern Territory aren’t immune from financial pressures. MAF’s Janne Rytkonen catches up with frequent flyers and financial counsellors to the Yolngu – Anglicare

From 28 to 29 April, over 1,000 world leaders including British foreign secretary David Cameron, are meeting in Saudi Arabia’s capital for the 2024 World Economic Forum to debate topics such as global collaboration for growth and using energy for development.

As per CNBC, World Economic Forum president Borge Brende gives a stark outlook for the global economy:

‘We have to address the global debt situation. We haven’t seen this kind of debt since the Napoleonic Wars. We are getting close to 100% of the global GDP in debt. We hope to reduce the debt and take the right fiscal measures, without getting into a situation where we will see a global recession.’

Borge Brende, president of the World Economic Forum

Brende’s comments echo the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) recent report, which states that global debt peaked to 93% of GDP last year, which was higher than before the pandemic.

The IMF predicts that global debt could reach 100 % of GDP by the end of the decade.

Even very isolated people are affected by debt.

Without MAF, people can’t access financial help in the wet season

Anglicare is a Christian charity, which supports vulnerable communities in hard to reach places with a range of challenges including debt.

Their qualified financial counsellors provide free advice to people struggling with money.

Services include assessing financial situations; education about credit law, debt recovery and bankruptcy; designing bespoke money management plans; negotiating with creditors, agencies and businesses and arranging specialist financial referrals.

Anglicare Northern Territory (NT) runs the ‘Money Support Hub’ in East Arnhem Land, situated in the far north of Australia. MAF flies their staff out to remote communities on a regular basis.

This is particularly useful in the wet season (November to April) when roads become impassable for half of the year. MAF’s frequent shuttle service provides a convenient and cost-effective way for Anglicare to reach their clients.

MAF’s shuttle service enables the Yolngu to access financial help (credit: Anglicare)

MAF’s shuttle service enables the Yolngu to access financial help (credit: Anglicare)

Feeling cut off from help exacerbates the problem

Some people in Arnhem Land have been targeted by payday lending schemes or have mobile phone plans that are unsuitable for their location or financial situation, which can cause a great deal of anxiety if not dealt with quickly.

People can soon feel overwhelmed without support, sighs Simone Pettiford – Anglicare’s NT Regional Operations Manager:

‘In the worst cases, debt collectors can cause significant stress.’

A significant role of Anglicare NT’s financial wellbeing services is to share skills on
how to navigate modern financial systems, such as online banking to manage money.

The sooner people are in possession of such skills and knowledge, managing finances becomes easier to deal with.

Even people living on Elcho Island – an isolated community living off the coast of Arnhem Land – need support with their finances. The remotest people on earth are not immune from debt says Anglicare financial counsellor Monique Achterberg:

 ‘We help people with a whole range of financial problems – from those who get locked out of their bank accounts, to helping families access pension funds and dealing with debts. Dealing with banks and financial services can be quite daunting for our clients.

‘We help with financial awareness to empower people, so that they have better knowledge and understanding of money and how to use it. It’s something really satisfying and rewarding to know that people in debt, when they don’t know where to go and what to do, turn to us for help.’

Monique Achterberg - financial counsellor for Anglicare & MAF frequent flyer (credit: Anglicare)

Monique Achterberg – Anglicare financial counsellor & MAF passenger (credit: Anglicare)

MAF reaches Elcho Island in just 40 minutes

Without MAF’s 40-minute flight from Gove, it would take Monique and her colleagues many hours to reach Elcho Island by land and boat – precious time they would rather use to help their clients.

MAF is safe and offers a personal touch says Monique:

‘We feel safe flying with MAF, and one thing I really like is that some pilots do the safety briefing in Yolngu Matha (the Yolngu language). That really helps Yolngu people to understand what’s happening.’

Simone agrees:

‘MAF has a solid reputation with Anglicare. For us, it’s a safe and reliable service, and the cost isn’t prohibitive.

‘MAF has a clear dedication and commitment to the region, which we share.’

Simone Pettiford, regional ops manager for Anglicare’s NT & MAF frequent flyer

It only takes MAF 40 minutes to reach Elcho Island (credit: Stephanie Gidney)

It only takes MAF 40 minutes to reach Elcho Island (credit: Stephanie Gidney)