ASIC report: Wesley Mission improving financial literacy for vulnerable Aussies

ASIC report: Wesley Mission improving financial literacy for vulnerable Aussies

A recent report from the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) has affirmed the ground-breaking work and outcomes of a Wesley Mission financial literacy program with the number of participants double the amount than in 2014-15.

The ASIC 2015-16 National Financial Literacy Strategy Annual Highlights Report released last Friday found that Wesley Mission’s ‘In Charge of My Money’ program has almost 1,150 new participants who attended more than 300 face-to-face sessions in 2015-16.

The program is run by Wesley Mission’s financial counsellors and capability workers for vulnerable Australians including government income recipients, people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, those in addiction centres and domestic violence clients.

The Annual Report noted that the Wesley Mission program was: “Helping people struggling to manage their money to make better-informed decisions about their spending and borrowing.

“The program has been externally evaluated, through a grant from Financial Literacy Australia. The evaluation, undertaken by Macquarie University and RMIT, tracks the longer-term impact of the program on participants, seeing whether follow-up SMS messages reinforce motivation and improve behavioural changes.

“Findings show that the program is working well in a number of key areas. The final report was released in October 2016.”

Launching the Report in Canberra the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer, said financial literacy not only helped improve living standards but ensured that the country had an effective financial services industry.

“With an ever wider range of financial products and financial services being made available to consumers, financial literacy empowers individuals so that they can master the complexities of decision-making around these products – and they can take full advantage of the benefits that flow from financial innovation,” she said.

The program was expanded in 2014 thanks to further funding by Financial Literacy Australia. During the past year the program has been delivered across 11 new areas in regional New South Wales and the Sydney metropolitan area.

“Participants consistently rate the program highly for usefulness, quality of speakers, materials, and overall value,” the Report said.

The age range for participants were 11–17 (1 per cent), 18–25 (8 per cent), 26–39 (50 per cent), 40–64 (38 per cent, and over 65 (3 per cent). There were equal numbers of male and female participants.

ASIC Chairman Greg Medcraft emphasised the importance of financial literacy programs in supporting better financial outcomes for Australian consumers.

‘”It is encouraging to see many of the projects use a grass-roots approach to provide support where it is most needed, particularly with consumers who may be vulnerable.  With this in mind, ASIC provides tailored resources for priority audiences including Indigenous Australians, women and CALD communities,’ Mr Medcraft said.

The CEO of Wesley Mission the Rev Dr Keith Garner said Wesley Mission was delighted that the program continues to be a success.

“For decades Wesley Mission has been innovative in the areas of financial counselling and financial literacy,” Dr Garner said.

“This latest report from ASIC underlines the enduring nature of our work in providing tangible and lasting outcomes for some of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged in the community.

“Our commitment to research in financial stress and financial literacy during the past decade has provided the framework and impetus for programs like Wesley Take Charge of My Money.”

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