Seventeen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across Australia came together in Cairns last month for the first face-to-face training week under the 2015-2016 “Indigenous Financial Counselling Mentorship Program.” In this edition, ICAN staff members reflect upon their first training week…
The Mentorship Program commenced on July 27th at the Cairns Colonial Club Resort, bringing together students from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the Northern Territory including the Tiwi Islands. The program provides nationally accredited and recognised training through the Diploma of Community Services (Financial Counselling), and offers personal and academic mentorship in a supported learning environment, connecting students through face-to-face classroom and weekly online training sessions. The program reflects the growing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples working in the financial counselling and capability sector, with nine financial capability workers, six financial counsellors and one financial literacy trainer undertaking the Diploma. Sandy Rosas, Clifford Little and Eddie Buli are the latest ICAN Staff to join the program and provided their thoughts on the first week of training.
“I felt the excitement build a month out from the training as it was going to be about new knowledge, experiences, meeting people from different parts of the country and organisations. As we do when gathering as Indigenous people we yarn and try make connection of where we’re from, who we know and compare what’s going on in our communities, work, etc. That connection didn’t take long as the commonalities, links came through, emphasising we live in a small world.
“With all the sussing out of way you could see a comfortability being formed as the week went on. The blend of our group enhanced support and encouragement for each other while we were in a learning environment but this also overflowed knowing that the majority of students were away from their family and were away from their home.
“By time the end of the week despite having the pleasure of increased mental activity being rediscovered, the couple of grams gained from the catering and some new strings to add to my cast net. It was time for this social Ulysses Swallowtail to farewell his new classmates and wish them a safe journey home until the next Block Training. – Eddie Buli, Student from the Block.
“Block 1 of the Mentorship Program for ‘Diploma of Community Services’ (Financial Counselling) commenced on the 27th July of this year and I was very excited cause this meant I was about to start my journey into gaining my Diploma in Financial Counselling.
“I liked how the Trainers, Marion Palmer and Kate Rich used a contextual approach to conduct the training. As training can be very stressful at times and can make you very anxious to complete assignments on time, both trainers made it a little easier by playing music/songs throughout the training sessions that related to what we were learning on that day. Songs that reflected money, struggle, surviving and so forth. I also liked how the trainers made it easy to have assessments completed by the end of the day by going to each person and helping with understanding the task.
“I met some wonderful people from all different states/islands that had also come to do the training and to gain more knowledge of the work we do as Financial Counsellors, Advisors, Planners and other financial sectors that some of us work in. I enjoyed hearing the different views, approaches and outcomes each member had from where they came from and the clients that they dealt with. One young fulla from Tiwi Island stood out the most for me because he was such a bright, smartly dressed young man with so much knowledge and involvement with helping his people to gain a better understanding of ‘money’ and how they can defeat some of the financial issues that they have to deal with whilst maintaining their language and cultural barriers. The fact that he could speak ‘language’ to communicate to his people and then go into a mainstream office to work and speak ‘English’ to other clients, fascinated me.
“I am looking forward to Block 2 commencing next week on 31st August and I’m sure that I will get just as much, if not more, out of it as I did in Block 1.” – Sandy Rosas, ICAN Financial Counselling Support Officer.
“The “standouts” for me was meeting Indigenous people from all over Australia and listening to their experiences. There were a lot of common issues, both historically and contemporary but the approaches to some of these issues and circumstances were vastly different and seemingly very effective. Their life experiences enabled them to turn negatives into positivity. I took away some positive information.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the group sessions. I found there was an easy flow of thought and information exchange.” – Clifford Little, ICAN Financial Counselling Support Officer.
The “Indigenous Financial Counselling Mentorship Program”, delivered in partnership with the Commonwealth Bank, began in 2008 with ICAN’s vision to raise the number of qualified and accredited Indigenous financial counsellors in Australia. At the onset of ICAN’s first ‘Mentorship Program’, there existed only four qualified Indigenous financial counsellors in Australia. Armed with its vision to Empower Indigenous Consumers, ICAN set about the task of improving access to quality financial counselling services for Indigenous peoples living in remote communities – whom often experience high volumes of consumer and financial detriment, due to low financial literacy rates, English as a second language and geographical and cultural barriers to accessing support services. In seven years, the program has scaled significantly to achieve a national reach. ICAN has successfully graduated 19 participants through its 2012 and 2014 programs.
In 2015-2016, the Commonwealth Bank sponsored scholarships for students who are currently working in the financial counselling and financial capability (money management) sectors, to successfully undertake the Diploma of Community Services (Financial Counselling). The Commonwealth Bank Mentorship Program Scholarships cover the full course fees for the Diploma. The Mentorship Program is recognised within the financial counselling sector as a best practice training model for Indigenous people wishing to undertake the Diploma.