Survey finds that for Indigenous Australians, community well-being trumps individual wealth

New research has shown 70 percent of Indigenous Australians have low or moderate financial knowledge and behaviour. Photo supplied by First Nations Foundation.

A report by the First Nations Foundation (FNF) and the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) has examined the financial resilience of Indigenous Australians.

The research is the first of its kind to look at how Indigenous Australians talk about money as well as what their financial aspirations and goals might be.

One of the report’s key findings was that many Indigenous Australians choose to focus on family or community well-being over individual wealth and accumulation of assets or money.

CEO of FNF Amanda Young said Indigenous Australians’ financial aspirations are traditionally quite modest.

“For First Nations people, the idea of financial well-being is viewed through the lens of family and community. It’s not just confined to dollars; it’s how well an Indigenous family and the community around it are faring,” Ms Young said.

“The report highlights a revealing, but not unexpected, fact: that one in two experience financial stress. That is why 75% give money to family and friends. This research has the potential to reframe the conversation in Australia on what we truly value.”

Of the 620 Indigenous Australians who participated in the research, over 70 percent had low or moderate financial knowledge and behaviour and 75 percent of people had some difficulty receiving help from financial services in the past year.

CEO of CSI Professor Kirsty Muir said this research shows more work needs to be done to include Australia’s First Nations Peoples in the economy.

“We need to come together to improve the availability, accessibility and appropriateness of financial products and services. We need to support people who are financially excluded to avoid predatory or high cost products that lock them into perpetual poverty,” Professor Muir said.

“This research provides guidance for where financial services organisations, governments, and not-for-profits can focus to help create meaningful social change for our First Nations people.”

The report adds to the work CSI has been doing with NAB since 2015 to assess the financial resilience of Australians.

NAB’s General Manager of Social Impact Sasha Courville said NAB has been supporting Indigenous financial inclusion and resilience through their Reconciliation Action Plans.

Ms Young said what is important to First Nations people is not the same as other parts of Australia’s demographic landscape.

“In order to truly tackle the challenges ahead, it requires both the support of the entire financial services industry to help develop a roadmap to an inclusive financial future, and the involvement of Indigenous Australians in the development of that roadmap,” Ms Young said.

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