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5 Minutes with Aimee Williams, ICAN’s new Financial Capability Trainee!

Aimee Williams

Aimee is a Barkindji woman from Menindee, far west NSW, now living in Cairns. She recently left a career in childcare to take up one of the CommBank and ICAN Learn Cert IV in Community Services Scholarships that includes a skill set in financial literacy education. We had a yarn with Aimee to find out how it’s all going so far…

Welcome Aimee!

So, why the career change from childcare to financial capability?

I’d been thinking about changing from childcare for a while but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. I felt as though I was stuck and didn’t have any idea where to go. When I saw the Financial Capability Trainee/Cert IV Scholarship job advertised I thought, ‘that looks alright; I could probably do that’. I liked that this job was a Trainee position, which meant I didn’t have to go into it knowing everything, and I could learn along the way. It’s an excellent opportunity for me to get my foot in the door and pursue a new career.

How do you feel about studying again?

I’m a person who loves to learn new things, so studying again is going to be great. I’m pretty excited (weird, I know!). I like the fact I’m going to learn so much about financial capability and be able to make a difference to people in need.

What most surprised you about the job?

Well, just quietly, before I saw the job advertised I didn’t know this sort of thing existed, so it’s all very new to me. It’s been a bit of a surprise, but in a good way.  

What’s something an outsider wouldn’t know about this sector?

When I first saw the job on Seek, I googled ‘Financial Capability Trainee’ and ‘Financial Counsellor’ to find out what they do, and everything came back to ‘they pretty much help people with their money problems’. I didn’t realise we would also look at other areas of the person’s life, such as health, basic needs, family, employment etc. Most people probably think that when you come here it’s all about money issues – but it’s not. It’s about getting a better understanding of the whole person, not just the money side.

What’s the best thing about your new job so far?

I like ICAN’s wellbeing wheel as it opens opportunities for communication to understand all of the issues in someone’s life, not just financially. I also really enjoyed being part of two recent Yarnin’ Money training sessions that ICAN delivered to First Nations young people as part of their career induction. It was great watching the participants take in this new information. I felt it impacted their life and pointed them in the right direction with their financial journey. I can’t wait to be able to make an impact like that. Carmen Hegarty and Majella Anderson are the best role models, and I’m learning so much thanks to them.

How would your 10-year-old self react to what you do now?

I believe my 10-year-old self would probably be a little bit shocked as I always saw myself as a teacher or an educator. At the same time, my 10-year-old self would be proud of me for taking this leap of faith and just giving it a go.

What causes are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about helping my people strive to be the best they can be. When I say my people, I mean Indigenous Peoples, including Torres Strait Islander Peoples. I love seeing Indigenous people doing good for themselves and breaking those cycles. I still have a little bit of work to do around that, but I believe if I can be a good role model to the younger generation, that’s a great start.

Also, as I worked in childcare for 12 years, I’m passionate about children – especially Indigenous children – getting the best possible start in life. Those early years set the foundations for the rest of their lives.

Where are we likely to find you on weekends?

Spending time with my family. I have a nearly 6-year-old son who plays footy with the Roo’s on Saturday mornings, then we love just spending time together as a family, getting outside or going to the cinema. We also like to stay home and chill.

What’s the last show you binged?

I do like a bit of reality TV – the last show I binged was probably Selling Sunset or Below Deck. Believe it or not, I do also like to watch the Block, which has just started again.

Fast forward 5 years, what will you be doing?

Hopefully, we will have our own house by then, be in good-paying jobs, and be happy and healthy. I would also love to take our son on more holidays to experience all of the beautiful things in the world.

Plan your Money and Thrive in 2024!

Aimee Williams, ICAN Thrive Money Mentor

We know that life throws us many curveballs, but if we were to create a well-thought-out plan, we could turn those curveballs and scary expenses into smaller and more manageable chunks.

The way to do this is to write down all the fixed and large expenses you may face within the year.  You may need to think about all the larger expenses you had during last year to start you off or think about your financial goals for this year.  Those larger expenses may include car rego, holidays, Christmas, birthdays, etc.  Knowing approximately how much you spend for each expense will help you turn what would usually be a scary time into a much more manageable and meaningful time for yourself and your family.

Turning a large expense into a small amount

Get this: We know that Christmas happens at the same time every year.  Now imagine spending a magical time with your family and not worrying about financial stress or falling into those debt traps that we often find ourselves in every year.

To get to that place, we must first figure out the expense.  How much do we actually spend at Christmas?  Think about the presents, food, travel costs, and all other expenses associated with Christmas Day.  Once we have figured out the total cost of Christmas, we can add that to our weekly or fortnightly budget and plan to put a small amount away each pay.  This is how we can bring down what would usually be a larger expense and plan to save smaller amounts each pay.

For example, if the average cost for Christmas was around $3000 (including food, presents, decorations and any other cost that goes with Christmas Day), we can plan and budget for this expense at the start of the year.  This would mean we would only need to save about $120 each pay, instead of trying to come up with $3000 right before Christmas.

Having this plan in place can help people avoid debt traps such as Buy Now Pay Later (Afterpay, Zip Pay, etc.), payday loans or any other small loans.  Staying away from these products could save people lots of money, as they charge crazy interest and have many fees and charges attached to their contracts.

Rainy Day or Emergency Fund

Another great way to plan for those larger and unexpected expenses is to have a rainy day or emergency fund.  We know that life happens, and there will be many times when an unexpected expense happens, such as the car breaking down or needing new tyres, a child getting sick, or we have sorry business.

Starting to plan or build a rainy day or emergency fund could bring down these unexpected and larger expenses.  So, instead of trying to come up with larger amounts of money for those unexpected expenses, we may only need to add a small amount to the money we’ve already saved in our fund.

When starting to plan your emergency fund every person is different, so we need to come up with a figure that would make each individual feel comfortable.  A rainy day or emergency fund is usually ongoing.  For example, you may start with $1000 as your savings goal, but once you reach that target, you may want to up it to $1500.  Everyone is different, so we need to figure out what will suit our individual needs.

If we were to plan and start building our fund at the start of the year, we may only need to save around $40 each pay to hit the target of $1000 at the end of the year.  If we were to start saving at the start of January and save around $160 each pay, we could hit that target by the end of March (or close to it).  So, by the end of the year, we could have saved $4000, which would be amazing for anyone’s rainy day or emergency fund.

Key Message

Starting the new year off right and thinking about all of those larger expenses and any financial goals you want to achieve for the year can be a game changer.  Planning ahead can save people money and stop them from falling into debt traps that are hard to escape and cost so much more than initially planned.

Having a well-thought-out plan in place is key to our financial journey.  It can help us build a better relationship with our money, which can help us build a better and wealthier future for ourselves, our kids, our families, and our communities.

If you would like to start planning for the year ahead or have a financial goal you want to achieve, come in and yarn to the ICAN Thrive team.  We’ll help you put a plan in place that will suit your individual needs and help get you to where you want to be.  You could even join our Matched Savings Program and turn your first $500 of savings into $1000!

This story was prepared by Aimee Williams of the ICAN Thrive team. To book an appointment with Aimee or one of the team contact ICAN Thrive on:

Phone:  1800 369 878


Financial mentor service launched in Cairns

Yarnin’ Money Mentor: Service Launch

We are thrilled to announce our new initiative that embodies our commitment to empowering First Nations People and fostering financial wellbeing. The Yarnin’ Money Mentor program is a comprehensive service that offers vital support, knowledge, and guidance to help individuals take control of their financial futures.

Yarnin’ Money: A Catalyst for Financial Empowerment

Our primary goal is to equip First Nations People with the tools they need to make informed financial choices, build their financial literacy skills, and bolster their confidence in managing their finances. Yarnin’ Money mentor services are entirely free, independent, and held in the strictest confidence.

Yarnin’ Money Mentors: Trusted Support

At the heart of the Yarnin’ Money Mentor program, you will find our dedicated team of First Nations Yarnin’ Money Mentors. These individuals are more than just financial mentors; they are trusted allies on your financial wellbeing journey. Here’s how they can provide invaluable assistance:

  1. Improving Financial Relationships: Our Yarnin’ Money Mentors are skilled in helping individuals understand their financial behaviours, developing healthier mindsets around money, and strengthening overall relationships with finances.
  2. Budgeting and Goal Setting: The team works with participants to create personalised budgets tailored to their unique circumstances. Additionally, our mentors assist in setting realistic financial goals, and providing a clear roadmap to financial success.
  3. Thrive Matched Savings Program: Saving money effectively can be a challenge, but our Thrive Matched Savings Program is designed to make this endeavour more accessible, allowing participants to watch their savings grow over time.
  4. SPER Debt Management: By making this life changing step, participants can reduce SPER (State Penalty Enforcement Registry) debts by $50 for every hour spent with the service.
  5. Utilities and Bills Assistance: Yarnin’ Money offers guidance on how to navigate issues related to internet, telephone, gas, electricity, and water bills, enabling participants to manage these essential services more efficiently.
  6. Understanding Financial Rights and Responsibilities: Financial literacy is key, and our mentors ensure that participants are well-informed about their financial rights and responsibilities in all their financial dealings.
  7. Accessing Credit Files: Participant credit files play a pivotal role in their financial life. Yarnin’ Money Mentors can assist participants in obtaining their credit files, helping them track their financial history and make improvements where needed.
  8. Referrals to Complementary Services: In some instances, additional support may be required. Yarnin’ Money mentors offer warm referrals to other services that complement our support, ensuring a holistic approach to participants’ financial wellbeing.


ICAN’s Yarnin’ Money service is a beacon of hope for First Nations People seeking to take control of their financial wellbeing. With a dedicated team of Yarnin’ Money Mentors, we offer support to build the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed financial choices. The team believes that everyone has the right to financial freedom, and our mentor services are here to help.

ICAN Yarnin’ Money Mentor, Aimee Williams, said, “We hope people embrace our Yarnin’ Money mentor service, so we can open their path to financial wellbeing, confidence, and a brighter future. We encourage mob to get in touch with us today and start their journey towards financial empowerment.”

Make 2023 your time to Thrive!

Queensland Police Service Recruits (Palm Island) completed the ICAN Thrive Program in 2022

2023 is already shaping up to be another big year for the national ICAN Thrive financial literacy program.  Last year the Thrive team delivered training to organisations including the Queensland Police Service, Department of Defence, Literacy for Life Foundation, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and several local employment agencies.  ICAN Thrive Program Manager, Nadine Frances, and the team’s Indigenous Yarnin’ Money Mentors, Carmen Hegarty and Aimee Williams, spoke to us about what makes Thrive different from other financial literacy programs and what it means to them.

“ICAN’s Thrive program isn’t just money.  It’s about considering the whole person’s wellbeing, which changes how they look at money,” said ICAN Thrive Program Manager, Nadine Frances.

“A big point of difference with the Thrive program is that it’s designed to culturally connect with people and their cultural obligations, which in turn impacts how they spend money.  Two of the core components of the training is completing the timeline and wellbeing wheel exercises that help to reveal the journey they’ve been on, and what changes they could make to improve their overall wellbeing”, said Nadine.

“We’re not just saying – let’s look at your bank statement and make a budget. We’re teaching financial literacy, goal setting, looking at individual strengths, and linking that to cultural obligations and the financial impacts on their world.”

ICAN Thrive Indigenous Yarnin’ Money Mentor, Aimee Williams, is currently completing her Cert IV in Community Services with ICAN Learn and is a valuable trainer for the program.

“Money’s not a subject that many Indigenous people talk about, said Aimee.  We don’t have weekly meetings about money or anything like that, as there’s a lot of shame around it,” she said.

“As an Indigenous Yarnin’ Money Mentor, it’s really important to me to deliver this training, especially to my people. It’s being able to tell participants that it doesn’t matter whether or not they have savings in the bank, as the training is actually about their journey and learning how to make changes.  Of course, we talk about challenges and budgets as part of the training, but people need to use the information and tweak it to how it works for them.  It’s not for us to say, ‘I think you should budget this way.’  It’s about empowering people and encouraging them to break stereotypes and cycles that don’t serve them.” said Aimee.

Nadine explained,“Organisations engage us to deliver Thrive for various reasons.  For employment induction programs – as we did with the Queensland Police Service or the Australian Defence Force – to community organisations whose clients are receiving income for the first time and need to understand pay slips or how super and tax work.  Thrive enables people to become more financially literate and stable, regardless of where they are in their journey.  We also customise training to suit different organisational needs or the different literacy levels of the participants.  The one thing they all have in common is their willingness to change someone’s financial trajectory.”

Carmen Hegarty loves connecting with the people she meets in her role as an Indigenous Yarnin’ Money Mentor with the Thrive program.

“It’s a joy to meet the people participating in our training sessions,” said Carmen.  “Not only is it great for my wellbeing, but I get to meet people who are family members I don’t even know or catch up with old friends.  I love doing this job because you’re touching base with all sorts of people and learning from them, especially with the different age groups that come through.  I love learning about the wants and needs of the younger generation, as they’re very different from our older participants.  People at any age can change their financial world rather than just being told they’re poor savers, which is what I love about Thrive.” said Carmen.

As a proud Barkindji woman, Aimee is committed to changing people’s lives.

“Growing up, I experienced a bit of racism and felt like people always looked down on me”, said Aimee.  “Our people are more than a stereotype.  Financial Literacy skills empower people to take a stand and be proud of who they are.  Even if parts of society tell us that we can’t think big, we can.  Every delivery of the Thrive program is as powerful for me as it is for our participants.  Everyone has the right to create change in their life.  Together, we can do it.”

To find out more about the Thrive Program, contact Nadine Frances, ICAN Thrive Program Manager:


P: 1800 369 878

Interested in training with ICAN Learn?  Check out the latest courses here

Watch the ICAN/ICAN Learn 2022 Annual report video here