Resilient Women 2016: A leadership summit to build women’s financial resilience

Resilient Women 2016: A leadership summit to build women’s financial resilience

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.

Jane Caro speaks at the Resilient Women Summit
Master of Ceremonies, Jane Caro, kicks off the day’s events.
Yvonne Weldon gives the Welcome to Country address
Yvonne Weldon gives the Welcome to Country address.

It’s a women’s economy

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.

Saul Eslake addressing the Resilient Women Summit
Economist Saul Eslake addressing the Resilient Women Summit.

Financial inclusion Action Plan launch

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.

Representatives from all organisations in participating in the Financial Inclusion Action Plan program standing in a group and smiling to the camera
Representatives from all organisations in participating in the Financial Inclusion Action Plan program, which will advance financial inclusion for women.

The financial fairy-tale

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.

Melissa Browne addressing the audience
Storytime with Melissa Browne, who shared some of the happy and not-so-happy endings that women experience when it comes to finances.

The financial facts

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 Kristy Muir speaking about financial resilience
Professor Kristy Muir speaking about understanding financial resilience through a framework of income, products, knowledge and networks.

Resilient women across the globe

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.”

Professor Elaine Kempson at a lectern
Professor Elaine Kempson gave the day an international perspective.

Resilient women share their stories

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.

Basia, NILS client, speaks on a panel
Basia, client of the No Interest Loan Scheme, shares her story.

Breakout sessions

The money taboo: how do we have the conversation?

Tanya Corrie, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand, participates in a panel discussion
Tanya Corrie from Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand on the networks which offer women support in times of crisis.

Balancing the books: women’s financial literacy and capability

Four panelists sit in front of an audience.
Our balancing the books panel discuss how we can build financial knowledge so women have the confidence to draw on their internal capabilities.

‘She works hard for the money’: women, work and wealth

Amy Cato givers her insight during the discussion
Amy Cato, Founder and company director of ‎Executive Women Shortlists, on what businesses can they do to ensure their female employees aren’t penalised financially and are supported during caring responsibilities and other circumstances.

What women want: products and services

Adam Mooney shares his thoughts during a panel discussion.
Good Shepherd Microfinance CEO, Adam Mooney, on a panel discussion whether we are meeting the needs of women when it comes to products and services.

Can the media change the perception?

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.

Georgie Dent, Women’s Agenda, Bianca Hartge-Hazelman, Financy and Caitlin Fitzsimmons, Fairfax Money, formed a panel to discuss women, finance and the media.
Georgie Dent, Women’s Agenda, Bianca Hartge-Hazelman, Financy and Caitlin Fitzsimmons, Fairfax Money, formed a panel to discuss women, finance and the media.

The money story

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?

Amanda Young, First Nations Foundation, Tanya Hosch, AFL, and Shelley Cable, 100 Days of Deadly Mob, discuss Indigenous women and finance, and perceptions of Aboriginal people in the media.
Amanda Young, First Nations Foundation, Tanya Hosch, AFL, and Shelley Cable, 100 Days of Deadly Mob, discuss Indigenous women and finance, and perceptions of Aboriginal people in the media.

Family Violence, money and Muslim women

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.

Maha Abdo, from the Muslim Women Association at a lectern.
Maha Abdo, from the Muslim Women Association, gives the final address of the day.
Thank you to EY for hosting this event, to our sponsors, and to all of our speakers and attendees, who’s support made this event possible.

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