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Yarnin’ Money Report 2019

Yarnin’ Money Co-Designer and Facilitator, Eddie Buli talks about the issues around financial capability within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, how Yarnin’ is used in the delivery of training and how that affects participants. The video was produced as an adjunct to the Yarni’ Money Report. Download the report here.

One-stop Yarnin’ Money shop

ICAN and service partners the Commonwealth Bank, Centrelink, Good Shepherd Microfinance, Many Rivers, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Queensland Office of Fair Trading (OFT) held a Yarnin’ Money Day event on Palm Island, earlier this month. The one-stop-shop, set up at the local TAFE and provided superannuation, wills, banking, No Interest Loans (NILS), small business and consumer regulatory information and support services to over eighty Palm Island residents.

ICAN developed the Yarnin’ Money Day concept as a pro-active response to potential financial issues arising from the $30 M Palm Island Class Action Settlement Scheme. Palm Island Mayor, Alfred Lacey presented ICAN with email correspondence from a possible scam investor offering to provide financial services to claimants. ICAN was able to have the business in question checked on the spot by Len Curran, Regional Manager at the Queensland Office of Fair Trading.

“OFT began investigating immediately,” said Mr Curran. “The trader appeared to be unlicensed for the services he wanted to offer and the OFT discouraged him from visiting the island.” 

“We know that large influxes of money always attract unscrupulous traders,” said Mr Curran. “That’s why these Yarnin’ Money days are so valuable. They allow service groups and regulators to get in early and provide advice and guidance to residents on how to avoid being ripped off. Once consumers are armed with the knowledge, they can make more informed decisions on how to deal with their money.”

ICAN CEO, Aaron Davis said, “The benefits of inter-agency community events like the Yarnin’ Money Day are numerous. They promote collaboration, generate community interest and achieve great service outcomes. We appreciate the support of our partners and plan to continue these Yarnin’ Money community events in 2020.”

Cairns Good Money Store’s, Damian Finitsis said, “Yarnin’ Money Days are a great way to get out in the community with organisations that are doing incredible work. For me, it’s really about strengthening existing relationships and forging new ones.”

The Yarnin’ Money Day event was complemented by a series of Yarnin’ Money financial literacy workshops in Townsville and Palm Island designed explicitly for class action claimants. Final Palm Island Class Action Settlement Scheme payments are due to be released in early 2020. Dodgy traders be warned. We’re watching!

Yarnin’ Money Report Released

Yarnin’ Money Report Promo 2019

ICAN is pleased to launch its Yarnin’ Money Report 2019. The report examines how ICAN developed and delivered a financial capability program through an Indigenous knowledges framework which involves Aboriginal epistemology and pedagogy, and how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples acquired financial capability knowledge and skills through the Yarnin’ Money program over the period of 2015 to 2018.

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’[1].  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’[2].

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 time is 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[3].
  • 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)

For further information, please contact:

Carmen Daniels

Research & Communications

e: carmen.daniels@ican.org.au

m: 0412 357 888

References

[1] Financial Literacy Australia. (2014). ‘Grants program: funded projects 2014.’ http://finlit.org.au/funded-projects/funded-projects2014/

[2] Grieves, V. (2009). Aboriginal spirituality: Aboriginal philosophy, the basis of Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing. Darwin: Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health.

[3] 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/

Yarnin’ Money on Thursday Island

Last month, ICAN’s Yarnin’ Money program experienced its largest training group to date, delivering financial capability training to thirty-five job seekers and staff from My Pathway in the Torres Strait. The training featured as part of My Pathway’s Wellbeing toolkit – a range of programs covering physical, social, emotional, cultural, psychological and financial well-being, delivered to job seekers undertaking mutual obligation activities.

Though the Yarnin’ Money training, Torres Strait Islander job seekers and staff were exposed to a unique way of discussing money and related issues, through a culture-centred approach. Yarnin’ Money takes participants on a journey through their own timeline, to understand where and how money fits into one’s own cultural worldview and centres discussion on how histories and life events impact our view and use of money. Facilitators Eddie Buli and Carmen Hegarty discussed how Yarnin’ Money was received in the Torres Strait. “Yarnin’ takes participants on a journey to look and see money – and money issues – from a historical, cultural, personal, family and community view,” Eddie said. “The delivery of the training is about our mob, our communities, our style, our yarn and the way we yarn.”

“That connection to culture and history is an important element of Yarnin’ Money, and this came out strongly in the training,” said Carmen. “We started with the photo narrative activity, as a way to build trust and start the yarn.”

The Photo Narrative activity brought out stories among participants, that are specific to the Torres Strait and daily living on Thursday Island. The trainers noted one man’s chosen photo and story reflected a historical account of the pearl industry in the Torres Strait.

“One participant chose a photo of a pearl lugger and explained the history of the pearl diving industry in the Torres Strait; when they used to dive, how divers came from diverse nationalities and how they all lived their life from the sea,” Eddie explained. “He related how money didn’t matter back then because they could get kai kai [food] from the sea, where the sea was their life. He spoke about how the Torres Strait has changed since the closure of the pearl industry, how these days it is expensive to live on Thursday Island where not much work is available.”

Limited employment opportunities and the high cost of living on Thursday Island were themes discussed during the training. Thursday Island is considered both a remote community and a hub for the rest of the Torres Strait. As at December 2017, ABS reported an 11.4 per cent unemployment rate (of the working age population) on Thursday Island.*

Further to limited employment, is the high cost of living remotely. Yarnin’ Money participants noted the difficulties in being able to manage their finances due to the high cost of living on Thursday Island. “The living expenses here in the Torres Strait makes it hard to manage your life financially,” said one participant. “There’s not enough money, everything’s expensive in the Torres Strait,” said another.

The cost of rent and food were specific issues discussed when delving into high daily living costs that participants faced. “Income from work is never enough for living expenses here, such as food, rent and (the cost of the) power bill,” said another. In a population of 2,938, 77.9 per cent of live in rented properties, with a further 12.3 per cent utilising social housing.** Of those, 11.4 per cent of households on Thursday Island experience a strain in rent payments “greater than or equal to 30 per cent of (their) household income.”** Service Providers in the Yarnin’ Money training also noted the high cost of food shopping on Thursday Island.

The training was well received by the My Pathway service providers and job seekers, with many commenting on how the sessions changed the way they view money and budgeting.

“This training has changed my personal view of how I could save money and also spend correctly.”

“It gave me more understanding, more knowledge, for my future.”

“Giving me a clear picture on budgeting and money handling. Releases stress off my shoulders.”

Participants commented that the skills learned in the training would help them to do personal budgeting and be able to share these skills with family and friends. They commented on how they would use the skills learned by:

“Do up a budget plan with my partner, so we’ll save to maybe go on a holiday with the kids.”

“To teach my family and friends, show them how to solve financial problems.”

This session was a fantastic opportunity for some of the most financially vulnerable people on TI to get sound financial advice and new ways of thinking about money. People learnt about setting goals and how to budget. A few had one- on one sessions with a financial counsellor. Most of them commented that it was a very useful training session. In addition, My Pathway engagement officers learnt some of the basics around how to help guide and refer people for sound financial advice, tools and tips,” said Bronwen Scully, Well-being Consultant from My Pathway, who organised the training on Thursday Island.

An intended outcome of the Yarnin’ Money training is the follow-on support ICAN provides to participants, through financial counselling offered post-training. ICAN provided financial counselling in response to five requests for assistance, dealing with matters of: multiple funeral insurances (five in total) held by one person, assisting one participant to create a Will, credit and debt issues for one family and tenancy advocacy assistance. ICAN financial counsellors were able to address the multiple insurances, assisting one participant to cancel the bulk of their funeral insurance products, in order to keep what the client felt necessary.

*****

My Pathway provides education, training and employment services and is the largest Remote Jobs and Communities Program (RJCP) provider in the country. Since 2015, My Pathway has been a great support to the Yarnin’ Money program, by organising participants and venues for the team to deliver financial capability training to local community residents in the Northern Peninsula Area (NPA – top tip of Cape York), Mapoon, Napranum, Weipa and recently, Thursday Island located in the Torres Strait.

Yarnin’ Money is an Indigenous financial capability program under ICAN Learn and is supported by the Commonwealth Bank, Financial Literacy Australia, the Department of Social Services and the Queensland Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors.

* Queensland Government. (2018). ‘Labour force – small area: unemployment rate (smoothed) (per cent), qtr ended 31 Dec 2017.’ https://statistics.qgso.qld.gov.au/qld-thematic-maps.
**Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2018). ‘2016 Census Quickstats: Thursday Island.’ http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2016/quickstat/SSC32851.

Yarnin’ Money with the Commonwealth Bank

By Carmen Hegarty & Eddie Buli

Last month, Yarnin’ Money was invited to promote the program to Commonweath Bank staff and its community partners. Yarnin’ Money staff Carmen Hegarty and Eddie Buli delivered training to Commonwealth Bank staff and interns, and community partner organisations including Kari and the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council. The two-day training was held at the Tranby National Indigenous Adult Education and Training facility, an awesome place situated in the suburb of Glebe.

We were very eager to meet the participants and to showcase the Yarnin’ Money Training in the big smoke. The training itself takes participants on a journey to look and see money – and money issues – from a historical, cultural, personal, family and community view. It’s about our mob, our communities, our style, our yarn and the way we yarn. Through the training, we hopefully shared some awareness via the yarn through Indigenous eyes – not only of the barriers – but aspirations faced by Indigenous people in remote, rural, and urban areas, with regards to financial literacy and consumer issues.

“What stood out for me was that the Yarnin’ Money training is done at a pace which can be unfamiliar to corporates”, said Brad Cooke, Manager – Emerging Technology at the Commonwealth Bank. “The training style properly reflects the needs of the community. It gave time for people in the room to reflect upon their own stories, which reflects the way in which community talk with each other.”

The training also focused on how we can have that understanding when assisting our people towards a healthier financial well-being. Participants were inspired by the concept of the Yarnin’ Money Wheel and how user-friendly it was. It’s a tool that creates a visual picture that allows a person to look at their life from the outside in, and within historical, cultural, personal and community contexts.

“The Yarnin’ Money training occurred at a really good time in my life,” said Megan Wilkin, Finance Officer with Darkinjung Aboriginal Land Council. “The Yarnin’ Money Wheel activity really stood out for me and I actually went home that night and did up a nice, colourful personal Yarnin’ Money Wheel, reflecting my financial journey. I really appreciated the time taken with the training.”

For us, the training was a great way to find a common ground with the bankers, through storytelling or yarnin’. The process of yarnin’ as a form of our knowledge exchange and teaching is the component we want to emphasise. In the right environment, learning can occur when one person can pass on that yarn, through telling stories and sharing information, which has always been part of our traditions. During the training, we were able to make that connection through the yarn, our way of doing things.

“The workshop delivered by Eddie and Carmen was full of great insights and practical ‘handy hints’”, said Noel Prakash, Commonwealth Bank’s Head of Indigenous Banking. “Eddie’s depth of experience and his expertise was reflective of his humorous delivery style, allowing the participants to understand and connect with the complex financial challenges of various communities. His warmest gift was his ability to ‘simplify’ complex financial challenges by community and bring along a diverse group of attendees on a common journey. I was honoured to have my bankers and clients spend the day with Eddie and Carmen.”

Happy New Year everybody and we look forward to where Yarnin’ Money will take us in 2018! Yarn more soon!!!

 

*****

Yarnin’ Money is an Indigenous financial capability program under ICAN Learn and is supported by the Commonwealth Bank, Financial Literacy Australia, the Department of Social Services and the Queensland Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors.

Yarnin’ Money interim evaluation report now available

squareICAN has just released its interim evaluation report on our Yarnin’ Money financial capability training program. The report discusses the evaluation progress to date on the Yarnin’ Money training program, delivered to twelve remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities over a three-year period (2015-2017), with a focus on the development, delivery and evaluation activities of the Yarnin’ Money program from January to December 2016.

Yarnin’ Money, funded by Financial Literacy Australia, the Commonwealth Bank and the Department of Social Services, is a three-year outreach program aimed at providing financial literacy tools and skills for local service providers and community residents in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Far North Queensland. Yarnin’ Money is developed and delivered through a culture-centred training approach, which recognises existing Indigenous cultural worldviews and knowledge as the foundation to build new financial capability skills. The program aims to overcome geographical barriers by providing local financial literacy training coupled with ongoing support, by connecting ICAN’s financial counselling and capability services to remote communities across Australia.

ICAN’s ongoing evaluation seeks to examine how the program increases knowledge, confidence and skills towards financial capability by specifically embedding Indigenous worldviews and cultural components which are delivered through storytelling, to create a ‘yarn’ about money. “If we start Yarnin’ about this thing Budget/Money and we understand this component in our lives, we can try and be boss of it as best we can. Yarnin’ about Money is the start of where we are today, to where our young people and generations to come, going to be in relation to how we perceive Money,” said Eddie Buli, Yarnin’ Money developer and trainer. It also seeks to discuss the context in which financial capability learning occurs for Indigenous peoples and how context affects learning.

Key findings from the report include a discussion on how the training delivery and activities promote cultural safety, which has been the necessary foundation for opening participants up to be able to discuss money within a safe environment, how the training creates opportunities for ‘teachable moments’ and also discusses challenges met.

You can download the Yarnin’ Money interim evaluation report at: http://ican.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/ICAN-Interim-Eval-Report.pdf or from the Financial Literacy Australia website at: http://finlit.org.au/funded-projects/funded-projects2014/indigenous-consumer-assistance-network-ican/.

Financial Literacy Australia (FLA) is a not for profit organisation committed to advancing financial literacy in Australia. See http://finlit.org.au/ for more information.

Yarnin’ Money heads to New Zealand!

Exploring cultural perceptions of money and wealth

Earlier this month, the Yarnin’ Money team was invited to Auckland, New Zealand, to participate in the conference “Exploring cultural perceptions of money and wealth”, hosted by the Financial Education Centre at Massey University. The conference, held at the Westpac Bank on October 11th & 12th, brought together practitioners, academics and government agencies with an interest in financial literacy, financial counselling and budget advice, investing, lending and working in diverse communities.  As it was ICAN’s first international conference, the team was very excited to present on the Yarnin’ Money program and to share best practice in financial capability with practitioners from New Zealand, India and the UK.

The conference theme: “Exploring cultural perceptions of money and wealth” allowed us to discuss the cultural influences that affect how people and institutions save, spend and approach money.  For our team, it was our intent to share our experiences of our learnings, outcomes and challenges thus far in delivering Yarnin’ Money – ICAN’s financial literacy outreach program – to remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The conference opened with a Welcome ceremony by Te Aroha Morehu, of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.  After the welcome, Dr Pushpa Wood, head of conference and the Financial Education Centre at Massey University, presented findings from their international survey conducted prior to the conference, on understanding the role of culture in people’s lives when it comes to making money related decisions.  ICAN’s Yarnin’ Money team was first cab off the rank to present on our narrative approach framework for delivering financial literacy training to remote communities in Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait.  We discussed how the program was purpose-built upon a strengths-based approach, recognising existing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural worldviews and knowledge as the foundation to build new financial capability skills.  You can listen to our presentation here:

You can also watch a video of the presentation by following this link: http://webcast.massey.ac.nz/

Highlights from the conference included presentations by:

  • Dr Jason Mika from Massey University, spoke about “The Indigenous entrepreneurs’ dilemma: balancing commercial and cultural imperatives in business using Indigenous values.” Dr Mika took us on a journey to ‘explore the role of Maori values in communal Maori enterprises’, exploring ‘the extent to which Indigenous values and reciprocity, can and does alleviate the Indigenous entrepreneurs’ dilemma’…
  • Alexander Stevens from the NZ Commission for Financial Capability, wowed us with his presentation on the “Making Sense of Cents” a campaign created for the Commissions’ ‘$orted’ website, as part of NZ’s ‘Money Week 2016’.  Our favorite was “Kōrerō (Talk) Money Week Videos”, a unique series of financial capability campaign clips which utilizes the NZ shilling coin as well as other past and present NZ currency. The videos aim to pay respect to NZ indigenous history and also connect people to messages regarding money.
  • Nick Watkins, Head of Insight and Evaluation at the Money Advice Service in the UK, presented on “Identifying the key enablers and Inhibitors of financially capable behaviour by consumer type” – a fascinating insight into consumer & financial behaviour in the UK!
  • Teresa Tepania-Ashton, Chief Executive of the Māori Women’s Development Inc, who presented on “Indigenous approaches to strengthening wahine [women] and whanau [family] financial capability.” Teresa discussed MWDI’s ‘Hinepreneur’ program, which builds the ‘capability of wāhine Māori to be trained as certified Hinepreneur Capability Coaches, who in turn, support their clients to reflect on their financial position and find ways to build their personal/Whanau and business wealth potential.’*

The Yarnin’ Money team delivered two Workshops on how to use narrative approaches in delivering financial literacy education to Indigenous peoples.  Eddie Buli and Jon O’Mally, Developers and Trainers of the Yarnin’ Money program, took participants on the Yarnin’ Money journey, through the Photo Narrative and Timeline activities, in order to understand how life events and one’s environment impacts upon our views, values and use of money.

Many participants reflected on the personal connections made during the Photo Narrative activity. “In one hour of sitting with people you had never met before we all gained a tiny glimpse of something special from each and every soul in the room”, said Michelle Wikita, Finance Manager at Orakei Marae, and Workshop participant.

Participants also gained insight into how the team has built its Yarnin’ Money Wheel as a method to capture issues at individual, family and community levels and how the wheel reflects ourselves and our money. “The Yarnin’ wheel presented to each individual what was real and important to them when it comes to life and the money we utilise to live it”, Michelle reflected.

For Alexander Stevens from the NZ Commission for Financial Capability, the Workshop provided a platform for the exchange of ideas and Indigenous worldviews.“I was invited into a sacred space of learning. I was humbled by the team at ICAN who openly shared indigenous worldviews with our Australian counterparts which was a beautiful spiritual experience.

“To see the framework being used to enable and empower Aboriginal people to create a space where financial literacy and capability can occur is truly amazing,” he said.

“It was a great pleasure have the ICAN’s / Yarnin’ team at our conference”, said Dr Wood, Head of Conference. “The team was really generous with their time and I wanted to make sure that all conference participants had an opportunity to share the indigenous culture centred approach that the team has developed. For our indigenous people in New Zealand, it was great to see how the Yarnin’ model is operating on the ground and the difference it is making to people’s lives. It was great to hear this first hand!”

“I could see a lot of similarities between the Centre’s philosophy and approach with the Yarnin’ model,” said Dr. Wood. “It is my hope that we will be able to collaborate in future with the ICAN/Yarnin’ team especially in the area of research and evaluation related to improving financial capability of indigenous people in our two countries.”

For the Yarnin’ Money team, we felt humbled and privileged to present at the conference, and to make new connections with many wonderful people who share the same mindset and values as we do, when it comes to delivering financial capability education for Indigenous peoples. For Eddie, there were many personal and professional discoveries in being able to hear from other Indigenous financial education programs. “From the first day with the welcome, the various presentations, discussions, programs and experiences made that camp fire atmosphere amongst us”, he said.

“Hearing about how financial literacy education is being delivered in other places, highlighted the similarities and challenges we share as Indigenous in this financial and consumer space”, said Eddie.

*******

Yarnin’ Money is a three-year outreach program aimed at providing financial literacy tools and skills for local service providers and community residents in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Far North Queensland, funded by Financial Literacy Australia, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the Department of Social Services.

*Source: Māori Women’s Development Inc, http://www.mwdi.co.nz/hinepreneur/

Yarnin’ Money – PhD style with Eddie Buli

Catching up with family, Professor Kerry Arabena at The University of Melbourne, Indigenous PhD Familiarisation Program.

Catching up with family, Professor Kerry Arabena at The University of Melbourne, Indigenous PhD Familiarisation Program. (Photo courtesy of @ArabenaKerry – Twitter)

A few months back, I saw that the Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health (The University of Melbourne) was advertising for Expressions of Interest (EOI), to attend the inaugural Indigenous PhD Familiarisation Program.  After a few enquiries, I thought I would submit my EOI, utilising the Yarnin’ Money Program as my proposed area of research.

The manner in which we’ve designed and deliver the Yarnin’ Money Program has been based on using the yarn of old cultural ways of passing on knowledge to connect with new knowledge in financial literacy, where our unique delivery style that makes those meaningful connections between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’.  In essence, the Yarnin’ Money Program is founded in Indigenous ways of knowing.  Having delivered the training now for a year and a half, we believe that – based on those cultural ways of ‘knowing’ – the program works.  It has further received good evaluation feedback and as a Trainer, I’ve witnessed light-bulb moments for participants.  But I’ve been curious about how to substantiate this belief, by possibly examining Yarnin’ Money further, through my own study.

So I threw my hat in the ring, with the attitude I’ve got nothing to lose and only something to gain. Well, in an unexpected surprise, I was offered a placement to attend the national workshop down in Melbourne earlier this month.

The Familiarisation Program is about making pathways for Indigenous people academically who are at a phase in their life, where pursuit for a higher research degree is attainable over 5 years.

I went to the workshops with my own expectations about what advice and direction I could ascertain regarding the Yarnin’ Money Program. From day one the workshop had a high engagement and interaction that was a mix of intense interaction and discussion.  It was like a spinning washing machine on my shoulders as I lay on my bed back at the accommodation each afternoon – and I mean this in a good way!

The sharing of ideas, an in-depth question and discussion period, listening and learning from the different academic presenters and what’s really involved with undertaking a PhD such as: the barriers, time management, decrease in money for a while, perhaps relocating, the motivations and challenges… just to name a few. A lot of my dormant brain cells got a quick and refreshing awakening!

To see the enthusiasm, encouragement and support available for Indigenous people at the University of Melbourne, out-weighed whatever overwhelming feelings I initially experienced down there. The Workshop brought out a depth of thought and required action for the Yarnin’ Money Program, and in myself. I also found some more relevant literature, academic staff, disciplines and direction that can link back to the Yarnin’ Money Program. I immensely enjoyed my time at the Workshop and felt privileged to be a participant of the Indigenous PhD Familiarisation Program, as I reflected upon our old people who fought, endured and struggled to make these opportunities possible for us.

“I went down with an idea and I came back with so much more!”