On Friday 25 November we were joined by more than 130 guests and speakers across many industries for Australia’s first leadership summit to build financial resilience for every woman.
Held on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the summit covered issues including; financial resilience and inclusion, how networks, products, income and capability can improve women’s financial resilience, and overcome financial exclusion and abuse.
Master of Ceremonies, Jane Caro, led the conversation and occasionally stole the show with her witty commentary.
Economist Saul Eslake gave a great opening to the day by acknowledging the resilient women in his own life, before exploring the current financial landscape for women in Australia. Saul spoke on the topic of gender parity, pointing out that if women had access to the same “economic buffers” as men, the economy would be a lot stronger. Saul called on the financial sector to act as a “cushion” during financial shocks, rather than amplifying them.
Delia Rickard, Deputy Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and independent Chair of the FIAP Advisory Group took to the stage to officially launch the Financial Inclusion Action Plans (FIAP). A program that sees participating organisations detail specific steps they will take to improve financial resilience for large numbers of people experiencing financial exclusion, especially women.
Following this, a panel of four FIAP trailblazers, Fred Ohlsson, ANZ, Debby Blakey, HESTA, Catherine Tanna, EnergyAustralia and Mary-Jane Bellotti, Suncorp Group sat down to discuss their own business and moral cases for introducing a FIAP, acknowledging that they can better support their clients and their wider community by collaborating for financial inclusion.
Melissa Browne, founder and CEO of an award winning accounting and advisory firm A+TA, and author of two illustrated books on finance, told us that women hear many financial fairy-tales as they grow up and that, unfortunately, many women carry these tales with them into adulthood. Melissa spoke about the importance of being mindful with our personal finances by taking initiative, “writing our own story” and addressing our own financial literacy. Melissa emphasised the importance of being mindful when talking to others, especially kids, about money, and suggested that having open conversations about money was the best way to avoid passing on financial fairy-tales to our kids. Lastly, Melissa spoke on the importance of mindfulness when it comes to shared finances with a partner, and advocated for equal involvement when it comes to money matters.
Elliot Anderson, NAB, and Professor Kristy Muir, Centre for Social Impact discussed findings from the recent research report Financial Resilience in Australia, which was released by the Centre for Social Impact in partnership with NAB. Key takeaways from this session were these startling statistics- three million people are financially excluded in Australia and one in four people face barriers when trying to access financial services.
Professor Elaine Kempson added an international perspective on the traditional approach to financial literacy. Elaine spoke in depth on factors that impact upon women’s financial resilience including education inequality, gender pay gaps, responsibility of caring for others and other cultural norms. Elaine left the audience to think about “whether it’s financial education or capability, wellbeing should be the focus.”
Good Shepherd Microfinance Chairperson, Christine Nixon APM, was joined by, Beth Mathison, Telstra Business Woman of the Year 2015 and Basia Emanuel, No Interest Loan Scheme client for a session that had a personal touch. Christine’s long history of resilience in a male-dominated field made her the perfect facilitator for Beth and Basia as they each shared their own stories of financial resilience. Beth, millionaire at 30 and broke by 40, demonstrated that anyone can experience financial hardship and that financial abuse can be a difficult situation to overcome. NILS client, Basia, showed incredible courage when she spoke about the circumstances that led her to seek out NILS and how her life has turned around since.
Georgie Dent, Women’s Agenda, Bianca Hartge-Hazelman, Financy and Caitlin Fitzsimmons, Fairfax Money, formed a panel to discuss women, finance and the media. This trio called on the media to be fairer in their coverage of women and money, particularly in their reporting on household issues like spending, parental leave and childcare. Georgie, Bianca and Caitlin all stressed that money should be considered part of all of our lives, and that there is a female audience for finance, as shown through Financy’s success. The panel encouraged parents and schools to take an active interest in the financial literacy of the next generation.
The last panel of the day included Amanda Young, First Nations Foundation, Tanya Hosch, AFL, and Shelley Cable, 100 Days of Deadly Mob. This powerhouse trio discussed Indigenous women and finance and perceptions of Aboriginal people in the media. Each panellist referred to her own experience as an Indigenous woman learning about navigating the world of finance. They discussed many factors unique to Australia’s Indigenous population – did you know that the number one factor holding back Indigenous Australian business is a lack of access to financial products and services?
Closing the day on a high note, Maha Abdo, from the Muslim Women Association, spoke about inclusion, diversity and tolerance for everyone, especially for Muslim women living in Australia. She said Australia’s diversity is a ‘rare and beautiful gift’ that should be valued by everyone, including business and government. When we start celebrating our diversity we can only be stronger.
Related Services: Financial Inclusion Action Plans (FIAP)
Tags: FIAP, financial exclusion, Financial Inclusion, Financial Inclusion Action Plan, gender equality, Good Shepherd Microfinance, Resilient Women Summit