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Community-led approach to financial capability

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Ecstra Foundation

Indigenous communities are helping their next generation of leaders build financial capability and wellbeing through practical training and toolkits.

Ecstra Foundation is funding the Catchin’ Up Project, a unique partnership between Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong (KWT Fund), Australian Communities Foundation (ACF) and Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network (ICAN).

Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong is the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led philanthropy fund to be established working exclusively in Victoria. The Catchin’ Up Project will reflect traditional First Nations’ values focused on sharing, nurturing, reciprocity and relationships.

The project will provide training, resources and share stories to building the financial capability of frontline staff at First Nations organisations. This benefits the staff and helps them better support their clients with money matters.

Leading the project is John Harding, CEO of Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong, who says: “I have seen the power of financial education firsthand. I was inspired by the story of a First Nations woman who was a student of the financial capability training that ICAN held in 2018. After graduating from that workshop, she went on to become a financial counsellor to teach others in the community the practical skills of budgeting, saving for a rainy day and taking time to make money choices by talking to experts. This inspired me to facilitate a similar program here in Gippsland.”

With extensive program knowledge to share, the teams will work together to develop a program suited to the people of Gippsland to ensure that current and future generations are equipped with skills to manage money for today and the future.

Extending support for this initiative is CEO of ICAN, Aaron Davis who says: “Indigenous communities rely on formal and informal networks to access information. The Catchin’ Up Project harnesses the power of learning from people who understand the issues of the local community and are now taking action to empower the next generation of leaders.”

As a sub-fund of Australian Communities Foundation, Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong is part of a growing network of community foundations which are uniquely placed to share knowledge and support local solutions to local issues.

Maree Sidey, CEO of Australian Communities Foundation says: “Community foundations are unique in their ability to build social capital and fund grassroots organisations by supporting communities to make their own decisions about what is important to them. Funding for this initiative and support of Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong not only shows the power of collaboration between community members taking positive action to build financial skills and capability but also supports First Nations self-determination which is critically important.”

The project has taken on momentum and the first information session to be held with the Gippsland Five, a group of five indigenous support organisations who are keen to train their employees in financial capability in Victoria.

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