Leaders rally for millions of people feeling the pinch

A growing group including some of Australia’s leading companies and not-for-profits, has joined forces to better support the 2.4 million people who are experiencing severe financial vulnerability.

More than 580 hands-on actions are being taken by 30 well-known organisations including banks, utilities, law firms, charities, governments and universities through the Financial Inclusion Action Plan (FIAP) program, developed to enable people who are struggling to make ends meet, to take control to improve their lives through financial inclusion.

FIAP Advisory Group Chair, Delia Rickard, said the aim was to improve financial inclusion and resilience of clients, employees and others.

“The organisations involved employ over 250,000 people and serve almost 80 per cent of the population, so the potential impact is enormous,” Ms Rickard said.

The FIAP program is led by not for profit community organisation Good Shepherd Microfinance, on behalf of the Australian Government, in partnership with the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) and EY.

Good Shepherd Microfinance CEO and Chair of the FIAP Partnership Group, Adam Mooney, said an innovative range of significant actions had been taken in the first phase of the FIAP program.

“For example, Bank Australia is holding financial workshops for Big Issue magazine vendors and Energy Australia has staff dedicated to helping vulnerable people manage their power bills,” Mr Mooney said.

Swinburne University has “provided many rental assistance packages and hardship grants, as well as computers and transport vouchers to ease the financial burden for students in need” says Vice-Chancellor Prof. Linda Kristjanson AO.

Economic modelling, outlined by leading economist Saul Eslake, shows that by working together over the longer-term, the FIAP program can improve the lives of millions of people, save the government almost $600 million, and boost the nation’s economic output by more than $2.9 billion a year.

Independent evaluation has also shown that a high level of collaboration and sharing was a key strength of the program. “The level of cooperation between normally competitive companies has been incredible,” Prof. Kristy Muir from the Centre for Social Impact said.

The Salvation Army is one of seven not-for-profit organisations participating in the FIAP program.

“We constantly see the effects of financial hardship and financial exclusion, which can be long lasting and have impacts on many generations,” National Commander Floyd Tidd said. “Financial inclusion ensures that people have the capacity to engage fully in the social and economic life of their communities.”

EY partner Mark Nixon said organisations involved with FIAP understood that financial inclusion and resilience was not the responsibility of any one sector.

“Collectively we can make a big difference to people who are in financial hardship, help people to save and be more secure, and grow economic activity,” Mr Nixon said.

FAST FACTS
– 2.6 million people have no savings .
– 45% of people earning <$40,000 say their financial situation worsened in 2017 .
– Only one in five Australians say they have full control over their finances.
– Australian businesses lose $47 billion p.a. in lost productivity caused by employee financial stress.

FINANCIAL INCLUSION ACTION PLAN (FIAP) PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS
• Anglicare SA
• BaptistCare
• Good Shepherd Microfinance
• Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network Ltd (ICAN)
• 10ThousandGirl
• The Salvation Army
• Women’s Information and Referral Exchange Inc. (WIRE)
• Swinburne University of Technology
• University of New South Wales
• City West Water
• Queensland Government
• Wannon Water
• Yarra Valley Water
• AGL Energy
• ANZ Banking Group Ltd.
• Ashurst
• Australian Ethical Investment
• Australian Unity
• Bank Australia
• Commonwealth Bank
• Corrs Chambers Westgarth
• EnergyAustralia
• Flight Centre Travel Group
• HESTA
• Money Brilliant
• NAB
• Origin Energy
• Suncorp
• VicSuper
• Westpac Group

More information: http://goodshepherdmicrofinance.org.au/services/financial-inclusion-action-plans-fiap/ .
Media contact: Kellie Evans, Good Shepherd Microfinance – 0418 568 464

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