Each of us dreams of living a full life. As children and adults we want to strongly relate and connect with people around us. We hope that we might reach our potential and can experience love, belonging, peace and some control over our destiny.
Living a full life has ups and downs. Our resilience to overcome shocks, but also realise opportunities, comes from within, as well as from those alongside us in our community.
Financial resilience is an essential element of a full life. It is enabled by building and drawing on economic resources, accessing the right financial services at the right time, applying developed financial capabilities and interacting effectively with informal networks; our social capital.
Yet despite Australia constantly ranking as one of the world’s best places to live, not all Australians enjoy equal opportunities to realise their full potential. Almost one in five adults (3.3 million people) are financially excluded, unable to access the basic financial products and services they need, when they need them1. Over two million people also face high/severe financial stress.
Many are women. Financial exclusion and lack of resilience may help explain why women’s wellbeing in Australia does not even rank in the top 20 countries2, as those impacted are more likely to face financial hardship, poverty and experience poorer social, economic and health outcomes. These challenges also impact their interactions with others, creating flow-on effects via their ability to pay bills, access services and plan for the future, including ensuring the safety, security and wellbeing of their family.
These interconnected and dynamic problems can only be addressed by holistic, system-wide, coordinated actions by key actors who are committed to continuous learning over time. The Financial Inclusion Action Plan (FIAP) program is a bold and innovative attempt towards achieving this. It aims to realise inclusive growth for individuals, families and communities by reducing inequalities, increasing financial inclusion and resilience, through the collective actions of organisations across industry, government, academia and the community sector. It aligns with Australia’s National Financial Literacy Strategy (2014-17) which is led and coordinated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
Change takes time. It takes the right mix of courage, audacity and commitment from those who are willing to be pioneers. It is with great pride that we launch today, committed actions from the first 12 FIAP Trailblazers, which seek to provide greater opportunities for excluded individuals, families, communities and businesses across Australia, to achieve their financial aspirations.
The Trailblazers’ commitment to undertake significant and accountable actions is a genuine display of outstanding leadership, giving hope to millions of disadvantaged people. We also welcome the Statements of Commitment from four additional organisations, who join our growing community of FIAP Trailblazers, as we head into 2017.
Ultimately, the success of the FIAP actions, particularly their ability to achieve scale, impact and quality, will be determined by those who are excluded and face financial stress. Economic modelling shows that by working together over the next 10 years, the FIAP program can enable large numbers of people to progress away from financial crisis and hardship, towards stability, income generation and longer term resilience. The emulation effect of a modest group of 30 organisations embedding committed actions into business as usual practices, could contribute towards a GDP uplift of $2.9 billion, government savings of $583 million and increased household wealth of $11.8 billion p.a.
On behalf of the FIAP Partnership Group, (Good Shepherd Microfinance, the Australian Government, EY and the Centre for Social Impact), I would like to acknowledge each of the initial 12 Trailblazers for joining us on this important journey. Together they are taking action to create large-scale financial inclusion and resilience, and to enable the fullness of life for millions of Australians, which benefits us all.
CEO, Good Shepherd Microfinance, Chair of the FIAP Partnership Group