Panel session

Topic: Improving Australians' financial literacy - a shared responsibility

Convenor: Paul Clitheroe AM, Chairman, Australian Government Financial Literacy Board


  • Kate O'Donnell, Chief Executive Officer, NSW Institute of Teachers - focusing on building financial literacy through formal school education
  • Air Commodore Robert Brown, Chairman, Australian Defence Force Financial Services Consumer Council - focusing on workplace programs
  • Linda Elkins, Executive General Manager, Colonial First State - focusing on the role of the business sector in financial literacy programs
  • Tony Robinson, Senior Manager, Financial Inclusion, Brotherhood of St Laurence - focusing on community programs assisting the disadvantaged

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Illustration of panel session

Panel session

Illustration by Gavin Blake of Fever Picture

Accessible text version

Panel session

Kate O'Donnell (formal school education)

  • I learned to be financially literate when I was quite young
  • All my kids are now financially literate
  • All my kids are now in a good position, and are now contributors to Australia's economy
  • Key to success - share the learning early
  • Not just the role of the maths teacher (just because I teach this, doesn't mean I am financially literate)
  • Significant indicators:
    - teachers
    - education levels of parents (especially mums)
    - alignment with curriculum
    - workshops available
    - MoneySmart Teaching resources
  • Look for those teachable moments

Air Commodore Robert Brown (workplace programs)

  • We have a small team and collaborators, and a small budget - runs very well
  • We know the programs are working
  • Two very important words: education, independent
  • Why do we do this: logical (where you earn your money), altruistic (not just duty of care), capability (helps us get the job done)
  • Financial literacy at key stages: recruit, prepare, deploy, post, transition, promotion
  • Some of our programs are compulsory, others are not
  • There is no reason why key financial education programs cannot be made compulsory across Australian workplaces in the same way that employers require employees to undertake other professional development programs
  • Question: How many people are you trying to reach? Answer: 90,000 and their families
  • Do have a look at our website: ADF Financial Services Consumer Council (all yours to use)

Linda Elkins (role of the business sector)

  • We must run our business with an eye on financial literacy
  • FirstChoice - a popular product, difficult for people to manage on their own, so made easier to understand
  • We have a huge opportunity to affect the financial literacy of most Australians
  • The challenge is in changing behaviour
  • A well informed customer in the right product (unlike Daniel, from Plenary session 3) is the best way to make money
  • We don't use focus groups anymore - we use customer-centric design, and design our products around this data
  • We may never reach our goal of national financial literacy - so we build our products around current literacy levels
  • MySuper - offer default options to customers
  • Community and partnership (eg StartSmart)

Tony Robinson (community programs assisting disadvantaged)

  • Saver Plus is a ten year partnership [Brotherhood of St Laurence and ANZ]
  • Currently 4,230 Saver Plus participants (16,000 have completed the program)
  • Self improvement, involve kids, dealing with financial pressure
  • Results: 87% still save, 93% report higher self esteem, 97% use savings to educate their children
  • Learning doesn't always arise from teaching
  • Teachable moments - unless the timing is right, the learning won't occur
  • Question: How are you going with co-ordinating efforts? Are we learning from each other? Answer: There will always be trial and error [and learnings from that] - NGOs do need more opportunities to share amongst ourselves

Last updated: 31 Oct 2016