PODCAST: financial literacy is a right for all

A society with high levels of financial wellbeing is more likely to be a healthy one, ensuring all people have the knowledge and ability to participate in social and economic life. Banks have a particular role to play in supporting all Australians in builing their financial knowledge and capability, which in turn  leads  to greater resilience and wellbeing. 

ANZ has been committed to building money management skills and confidence for almost 15 years through its award-winning MoneyMinded program, which has just released its latest Impact report.

In recent times, the Australian Government’s National Disability Insurance Scheme has highlighted the need for all Australians to have access to help with financial matters. The MoneyMinded report explores some particular financial challenges facing people living with disability, including those who are managing their own care through the NDIS.

In a discussion for bluenotes, Michelle Commandeur, Head of Financial Inclusion at ANZ sat down with Professor Roslyn Russell, Principal Research Fellow at RMIT University to discuss financial education as a human right.

You can listen to the full discussion below or read our edited highlights.  

Prof ROSLYN RUSSELL: Since its implementation the NDIS has if anything heightened the need and focus on how important it is for all people to have access to financial education.

" I believe having access to financial education is not a nice to have but actually a human right." - Prof Roslyn Russell

I believe having access to financial education is not a nice to have but actually a human right.

Everybody should have a right to learn about money. Most people can learn about it in other ways but some people who are in vulnerable situations (like people with disability, for example) may not have not had the same opportunity to learn about money.

As the NDIS is rolled out, all of a sudden there are people who have to be in control of their financial lives and make choices in ways they haven’t needed to before.  They have to manage their budget for all of their care services, handle service providers, and oversee other financial elements, in some cases for the first time.

This has highlighted the need for for financial literacy programs like MoneyMinded, which can be a big support for people who are working with those on NDIS.

COMMANDEUR: At ANZ we’ve been particularly focussed on building the capacity of  those working in the community sector. These people play a key role providing services to a range of vulnerable clients, many of  whom could benefit from support in building their financial skills and wellbeing.

Part of our approach is to work with trusted community partners like the Brotherhood of St Laurence, The Smith Family, Berry Street, the Benevolent Society and others. These partners have high levels of expertise and have access to those people in the community most likely to benefit from MoneyMinded.

We put our energy into building a relationship with them, understanding the issues they are facing. We’re then able to provide them with support, training and educational materials they can take to their clients.

It’s a good way for us to reach more people together. The partners each bring complementary skills and resources to addressing an issue of concern to us all. 

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Pr RR: It's a perfect model actually and the most highly advocated model. That's why it works so well.

I think scaling up through people who are on the frontline would be one of the major impacts of MoneyMinded. Giving them the skills, knowledge and resources they need means the impact goes to a wider base and to where it’s needed.

The trust issue actually is really important - the community can trust the program because it is delivered through credible community organisations.

We did a study with an individual with autism this year who asked “Why is a bank doing this?” He said “You know a bank teaching financial skills is like a fox teaching a chicken life skills!”  

It was really funny but all participants I think really appreciated the fact a bank like ANZ was investing in them and providing resources for the community to share their knowledge.

MC: That's really important to ANZ. I mean it's something we've focussed on for many years, making sure MoneyMinded is unbiased and delivered through trusted community partners.

It’s education material and does not contain marketing or promotion of products and services. That's an essential part of the trust.

MoneyMinded in the community has supported people over many years to really understand the basics of money management, building financial skills and building confidence.

MoneyMinded refers people to other sources of support, as well. There are great resources at Money Smart for example. We hope it's really held up as an unbiased piece of financial education. 

MoneyMinded is ANZ’s adult financial education program developed by ANZ in 2002 in consultation with community stakeholders and education experts.

The program, which operates in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific, has now helped over 496,000 people develop basic financial skills in a supported environment.

This year’s MoneyMinded Impact report contained a focus on financial wellbeing in a disability services context. You can read the report here.

Roslyn, part of MoneyMinded’s focus this year has been on financial wellbeing in a disability services context. You’ve worked closely with people with autism as you mentioned earlier - can you tell us a little bit about that?

Pr RR: We looked at what the financial lives of those living with autism looks like, what are their challenges and what are they missing out on. It was really interesting because they want to be independent as much as possible.

There are so many challenges those with autism face - things like being much more vulnerable to exploitation than people who are not autistic, because they're very trusting. The idea someone would lie to them or try to take advantage of them in a financial sense is really quite beyond their comprehension.

They would like to be able to be an independent consumer where they feel they can participate in life and financial literacy programs can help with that.

MC:  We’re really thrilled we've got some of these insights into some of the issues facing people with disability, particularly this group people who were living with autism.

We don't propose MoneyMinded is the answer to everything. Not by any stretch.

I think MoneyMinded can play a role but there are lots of really broad questions about what contributes to overall financial wellbeing. This report gives some great insights into what makes financial wellbeing possible for very different segments of society and we're really looking forward to working with our partners to explore that further.

Pr RR: And it is possible. It's really, really possible for everyone to participate fully in a financial world if it's presented and delivered in a way everyone can grasp. It really makes a world of difference.

Professor Roslyn Russell is a Principal Research Fellow at RMIT University& Michelle Commandeur is Head of Financial Inclusion at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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