Event details

Event Name: Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) Conference
Destination: Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
Venue/s: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Esplanade, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Darwin & Darwin Entertainment Centre
Attendees: 600 Delegates

About the event

Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) is the peak body for financial counsellors in Australia. The FCA conference brings together stakeholders from industry, government, financial services, plus community and financial counselling sectors to share information, experiences and ideas and to celebrate achievements.

In addition to the main two-day program, a range of pre and post-conference events, workshops, forums and meetings were staged. Approximately 100 delegates participated online via video streaming technology.

Why the NT?

The conference had never been to the Northern Territory previously and as a national organisation, FCA endeavours to stage its conferences around Australia.

Organisers advised that staging the conference in Darwin contributed to the event’s overall success, providing a unique feel. Darwin’s warm climate enabled all social events to be held outdoors, including the conference dinner. This enhanced the sense of Covid safety and was especially appreciated by delegates from Australia’s colder southern states.


Many delegates had never been to the NT before and were keen to visit somewhere new. With the first wave of Covid lockdowns, the original conference was cancelled. However, FCA was subsequently encouraged to reschedule the event once the lock-down was lifted.

From the outset, FCA implemented a comprehensive health safety plan, in collaboration with the Northern Territory Government, to try and reduce any potential health risks. This included a dedicated Covid Safety Officer appointed by FCA for the conference, who liaised with the NT Government Department of Health.

With delegate numbers well exceeding the original attendance targets, additional accommodation in Darwin was sought, as well extra airline capacity – assistance provided by NT Business Events and their airline and accommodation partners enabled this increased demand to be met.

Special NT Touches

A First Nations sub-theme ran throughout the conference, starting with the ‘Welcome to Country’ sung in language at the conference opening through to a presentation on the Uluru Statement of the Heart, which concluded the conference.

First Nations artists created artworks in the outdoor conference garden and young people from The Youth Mill, a Darwin-based program development and facilitation service for First Nations youth, provided a dance performance at the conference dinner. Margaret Lim, the founder and CEO of The Youth Mill, also delivered an inspirational speech during the conference.

The conference theme was ‘Crunch’, with many references made to crocodiles, ‘crunching’ data, ‘crunch-time’ and ‘policies with bite’ throughout the program.

An optional lead-in social activity was offered at Darwin’s famous outdoor Deckchair Cinema located on the edge of Darwin Harbour. The official Conference Welcome function was staged in an area located just outside the Darwin Entertainment Centre, where a bespoke relaxed ‘beer garden’ area was created. This space was also used for meal-breaks during the conference.

A highlight of the social program was the “Under the Stars” conference dinner held at well-known Darwin restaurant, Pee Wee’s at the Point. And at the conclusion of the conference, delegates joined their colleagues in a private VIP area at Darwin’s renowned Mindil Beach Sunset Markets from where they were able to watch a spectacular Top End sunset.


Organisers indicated it was a memorable achievement to attract over 600 people to attend a conference during challenging Covid times.

“The conference was hugely successful thanks to a team of people from NT Business Events supporting us, and also through the hard work of the Hilton and Darwin Entertainment Centre staff. Many people told us that not only was this the best FCA conference they’d been to, but it was the best conference they’d ever been to anywhere.”

“It was strangely comforting to have border quarantine at Darwin airport. We also had a totally flexible refund policy, with no questions asked, to encourage anyone who was concerned to just stay home. The Darwin venues provided the same flexibility. It was a joint effort by all to put safety first, ahead of profits … and this approach led to a safe, large, wonderful conference.”

Lauren Levin
Director of Policy
Financial Counselling Australia