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First Nations Foundation awarded $790k to address economic disadvantage for Indigenous women

Indigenous financial wellbeing organisation, First Nations Foundation has received a grant for over $790k as part of the Australian government’s Women’s Leadership and Development Program to support and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with skills to secure a prosperous future.

The Indigenous Women’s Financial Wellness (IWFW) project, which will be implemented over 3 years by the foundation, addresses the unique position of economic disadvantage experienced by Indigenous women through four impact areas: education, workforce participation, individual and collective empowerment and leadership.

Funds from the grant will be used to deliver a range of education and skill-based initiatives across Australia, including connecting 1000 local women and 20 regional and remote communities to First Nation Foundation’s award-winning ‘My Money Dream’ financial literacy program.

First Nations Foundation CEO and Wiradjuri man, Phil Usher, said that My Money Dream has had a lasting impact on the lives of many program graduates, and with the implementation of 20 mentors to guide and support new participants, he is hopeful that the program will continue to transform the lives of Indigenous women and communities.

“Those who have completed the program are more likely to stick to a budget, engage with financial services and take positive action to improve their financial situation, alongside marked improvements to their attitudes and beliefs,” said Phil.

“These critical skills open opportunities for Indigenous women to gain control of their financial independence, create awareness of potential financial abuse and connect them to superannuation, insurance and legal support.

“It’s also important to note that this will be led by the Aboriginal women within the organisation. Essentially this is women’s business and we want to create a safe environment for sharing stories and experiences.”

IWFW also seeks to tackle work participation challenges, with projects aimed at increasing employability, retention and overall well being of participants as they enter the workforce.

“Female-focused content will equip Indigenous women with strategies and examples of how to negotiate flexible working arrangements, request a promotion and pay rise, identify gender pay gaps and build confidence to speak up within the workplace,” said Phil.

“These essential lessons broaden the potential for women to join or return to the workforce, feel more satisfied at work and self-identify areas for professional development.”

Research released in 2019 by First Nations Foundation with the Centre for Social Impact and NAB identified that only 1 in 10 Indigenous Australians are financially secure, compared with 1 in 2 non-Indigenous.

Phil said that one of the largest hurdles that Indigenous women face when it comes to financial literacy is the underpinning of ‘family’ as a dominant cultural value over ‘personal wealth gratification’.

“With the overall concept of economic independence unfamiliar to many communities, the biggest barrier that Indigenous women face is ‘money shame’.”

“By breaking down these barriers and empowering and inspiring through education, we embark on a more holistic approach to detect the underlying effects that it has on our Indigenous women.”

The Australian Government’s Women’s Leadership and Development Program is designed to improve outcomes for Australian women across job creation, economic security, workforce participation, leadership and safety.

For more information on First Nations Foundation or its Indigenous Women’s Financial Wellness project, please visit: www.firstnationsfoundation.org.au/indigenous-womens-financial-wellness/