In late 2014, the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network (ICAN) received a grant from the Ecstra Foundation to create Yarnin’ Money, a financial capability program wholly developed by and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
In the 2014 grant round, Ecstra sought to fund projects that would: ‘work to improve the financial literacy and money skills of Australians; provide practical materials that will advance financial literacy in Australia [and] expand the body of knowledge around financial literacy’. As one of the nineteen funded projects in 2014, ICAN piloted the Yarnin’ Money financial capability program which would 1) develop unique financial capability educational content to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; 2) reach a significant number of people in remote and discrete Indigenous communities across North Queensland and the Torres Strait, and; 3) have the ability to scale.
With Ecstra funding, ICAN embarked on a journey to develop a methodology founded within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ontologies (ways of being) and epistemologies (ways of knowing), so as to design a financial capability program that would align with one’s own axiology (ways of doing) within their own cultural frameworks.
This methodology was purpose built so as to depart from traditional expectations of what financial literacy programs are expected to achieve and explore what could be possible when a financial capability program is developed and delivered from an Indigenous knowledges framework.
In creating the Yarnin’ Money program, ICAN strived towards building a model for how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia can develop meaningful financial capability knowledge and skills that align with Aboriginal concepts of wellbeing and ‘lives lived well’.
Key Findings of the report include:
- Financial capability training programs can thoughtfully engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples when Indigenous methodologies and knowledges are embedded into the design of training resources and methods of delivery.
- An appropriate investment of timeis needed to develop and deliver a quality training program to remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
- Best practice methodologies and methods can be shared across financial wellbeing programs and services, in order to 1) meet the cultural needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; 2) improve the quality of overall service delivery.
- Dual training and evaluation tasks directly impacted on the quality of training provided, due to limited funding for evaluative purposes.
- Short-term, outreach financial capability programs with a mandate to scale will be limited in their ability to measure longer-term outcomes such as behavioural change.
Highlights from the report include:
- Over the three-year period, ICAN delivered 28 training sessions to 272 people in urban, regional, and remote and discrete communities across Queensland.
- 66% (n=180) of all participants stated Yarnin’ Money was the first financial capability training they had ever participated in.
- Through the Yarnin’ Money training delivered in the Northern Peninsula Area (NPA) region of Cape York, a significant systemic consumer issue was uncovered, relating to the sale of used vehicles by Barry Young Car Sales, to NPA residents. ICAN Senior Financial Counsellors worked with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) to achieve a $72,000 for ten affected consumers in the NPA. Subsequently, the car dealer’s credit license was revoked by ASIC in 2017.
- ICAN was able to measure moderate behavioural change along the Stages of Change theory.
- 30% of all participants were enrolled in a Job Active program.
- The majority of training requests came via Job Active services.
- Outside of the program KPI’s, Yarnin’ Money was also delivered in other urban, regional and remote areas of Australia, and to international audiences in New Zealand and Canada.
The Yarnin’ Money Report 2019 can be downloaded here (10MB).
 Financial Literacy Australia. (2014). ‘Grants program: funded projects 2014.’ http://finlit.org.au/funded-projects/funded-projects2014/.
 Grieves, V. (2009). Aboriginal spirituality: Aboriginal philosophy, the basis of Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing. Darwin: Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health.
 Australian Securities and Investments Commission. (2017). ‘17-361MR ASIC cancels Cairns car dealer’s credit licence.’ October 27. https://asic.gov.au/about-asic/news-centre/find-a-media-release/2017-releases/17-361mr-asic-cancels-cairns-car-dealers-credit-licence/.