With closing the gap between financial capability of Indigenous Australians and the rest of the population proving difficult, a new tool developed by an Indigenous NFP may set the ground for a new level of education and support.

funding Indigenous initiatives

Nine in 10 Indigenous people have no financial security. First Nations Foundation aims to change that with the support of philanthropy.

This month, the Indigenous-led not-for-profit First Nations Foundation (FNF) launched a world-first education tool to market – My Money Dream. Its development was enabled by the early support of the Rowe Family Foundation, through Perpetual as trustee.

Tacking Indigenous Financial Literacy

FNF has been undertaking face-to-face financial literacy training for more than a decade but understood that the only way to combat the fundamental problem of lack of financial literacy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was to develop a means to communicate with these communities at scale.

FNF mapped out the key areas of advice including the needs for fundamental knowledge around topics like insurance, superannuation, budgeting, making a significant purchase. To this it added education around culturally specific issues like ‘humbugging’ – where an individual is expected to distribute their wealth among community and family – and then developed coursework on each, turning them into modules. By enlisting the support of developers, My Money Dream was born.

“We released research in 2019 showing the alarming statistic that 9 in 10 Indigenous people have no financial security. This cannot be transcended without financial literacy, and we are enlisting the help of government and industry to help reach and build a financially-savvy Indigenous population.” First Nations Foundation CEO, Amanda Young, said.

Receiving the support of the Rowe Family Foundation was instrumental in enabling the development and launch of the platform.

How Philanthropy Can Best Support Indigenous Initiatives

“Research clearly shows that the best way to achieve positive social outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people and communities is for programs and services to be designed by community and implemented by Indigenous-led or community-controlled organisations,”  said Caitriona Fay, Perpetual’s General Manager, Community and Social Investments.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities have the solutions to the challenges that are facing them, and it is important philanthropists support organisations that are taking this approach.”

There are challenges for philanthropic organisations who want to support Indigenous initiatives, but Fay explains that most obstacles can be overcome by identifying organisations that are already operating on the front line, and are trusted by the communities they service. Engaging with these organisations early also helps them prepare for being ready to work with larger philanthropic organisations, or commitments.

“In justifying the relative lack of funding flowing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisations, funders often site a lack of internal capacity within these organisations. As such it is important for philanthropists to fund the internal capacity and needs of these organisations so that they are able to meet compliance and governance standards. By doing so, philanthropists have the opportunity to build the capacity of this sector as a whole which will then likely lead to Indigenous-led organisations attracting more mainstream funding opportunities,” Fay said.

Additionally, Indigenous-led and community-controlled organisations are more likely to employ Indigenous staff, therefore funding these organisations directly impacts communities through employment opportunities and training.”

How My Money Dream Works

My Money Dream is designed to be supplied at no cost to the learner, with licences for access purchased either by organisations to distribute to their staff or customers, or by philanthropic organisations who wish to help raise the level of economic participation of Indigenous Australians. Its development aligns with what may be a potentially transformative time for initiatives to help close the gap in financial wellbeing.

“We are at a time where First Nations people have digital access,” FNF Chair and Yorta Yorta man Ian Hamm said. “This Genesis Generation now have the digital tools for Indigenous economic participation. We offer a meaningful way to learn about money which has personal development elements to work within their community expectations, while still achieving personal goals.”

Indigenous Business Australia were another early supporter, and it plans to distribute licences to its customers who enquire about entering the real estate market, or through participants of its series of workshops it runs around home ownership.

“Our investment in this product aligns with our own vision,” Strategic Partnerships Manager at Indigenous Business Australia, Brian Finlay, said. “We are deeply invested in the financial success and economic independence of our customers at every step of their journey – it’s why we exist.”

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