The role of First Nations Foundation is to promote financial literacy among Indigenous Australians, and we believe this is the cornerstone for true economic participation for Aboriginal people.
When I took over as the chief executive of the Foundation in January last year, our intent was to continue to grow the reach of our innovative Big Super Day Out roadshow, where we partner with superannuation funds and various government departments to visit remote communities and help those community members to locate superannuation balances that they may not even know they had. The roadshow had operated for seven years and had relocated more than $26 million in funds for Indigenous communities across the country.
However, with the arrival of COVID-19, everything changed. We knew immediately that we couldn’t risk bringing people out to communities and so we looked at what we could do, and we launched several successful initiatives that enabled us to continue to deliver our services through new channels and by engaging new audiences.
One part of that was the Beyond the Gap podcast, which is something I’ve wanted to bring to life for a while. In an evolution of different ideas and directions, Beyond the Gap became an Australian-first investigation into best practice reconciliation and Indigenous engagement for corporate Australia and beyond.
I wanted to have meaningful conversations with industry leaders about the relationship between corporate Australia and Indigenous people, something that seems so obvious in the journey towards reconciliation but was still being tiptoed around.
There was so much out there about the need for corporate Australia to engage First Nations people, without really getting to the meat of how, and what does this even look like, and how organisations can do it meaningfully. We know from our work with financial services businesses through the years that there is a genuine desire to work towards a better future for all Indigenous Australians, so how could we help them – and the broader business community – improve the outcomes they were looking to achieve?
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