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Is your career ready to thrive?

Majella Anderson delivering Yarnin’ Money to an Australian Government Cadet Program

2022 is shaping up to be an exciting year for ICAN and ICAN Learn, with the expansion of our financial capability work through ICAN’s new business unit, ICAN Thrive.

Applications for a Financial Capability Development Manager to lead this exciting new direction are currently open. (link)

To understand where we are heading, we need to reflect on where we’ve been, and how our financial capability work to date informs our future work.

For seventeen years, ICAN has been developing and delivering financial capability programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Our standpoint is that financial capability training programs can thoughtfully engage and meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples when Indigenous methodologies and knowledges are embedded into the design of education resources and methods of delivery. 

Since 2015, we have been delivering Yarnin’ Money, a financial capability program wholly developed by and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Recognising how Indigenous methodologies and knowledge frameworks inform financial capability practice advances our work beyond notions of embedding cultural safety or Indigenising mainstream education, resources and practice1,2. It moves towards decolonising education and practice altogether, to one of reimagining how financial capability education can fit within one’s own cultural understanding of self and financial wellbeing3,4.

When we created the Yarnin’ Money program, we wanted to create the space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia to develop meaningful financial capability knowledge and skills that align with Aboriginal concepts of wellbeing and ‘lives lived well’5.

In 2017, we travelled to Canada to learn how Community Economic Development organisations were delivering financial empowerment initiatives through the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA)

The Sustainable Livelihoods Approach is founded upon the tenet that for people to build sustainable livelihoods, they need to build assets (both tangible and intangible) across different domains of their lives. This wholistic approach integrates well with our Yarnin’ Money methodology and provides a framework for understanding the interconnectedness of self, and Self in relation to Others6.

Since 2020, ICAN has been integrating this approach into our financial counselling and capability service delivery. We spent 2021 testing and refining how the approach is delivered in our financial counselling work. 

Our new Financial Capability Development Manager will lead us into 2022 and beyond, when we look at embedding cultural knowledges into the framework7 and commence development on our asset-building financial capability program.

This is a unique opportunity to create the new ICAN Thrive business unit from the ground up, apply here.


Smith, L. T. (2013). Decolonizing methodologies: research and indigenous peoples. London: Zed Books Ltd.

Battiste, M. (2013). Decolonizing education: nourishing the learning spirit. Vancouver: UBC Press.

Daniels, C., Buli, E., Davis, A., O’Mally, J., & Pasco, B. (2019). Yarnin’ Money report 2019. Cairns, Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network Ltd.

Haiven, M. (2017). The uses of financial literacy: financialization, the radical imagination, and the unpayable debts of settler colonialism. Cultural Politics, 13(3), 348-369.

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

Graveline, F. J. (1998). Circle works: transforming Eurocentric consciousness. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing.

We look to models such the “First Nations Financial Wellness Framework” outlined in: Prosper Canada & AFOA Canada. (2019). “The shared path: First Nations financial wellness.” 

Get a job and a qualification when you join the ICAN Thrive team

The ICAN Thrive™ team is currently recruiting for identified positions in Queensland and Victoria, giving successful applicants an opportunity to be employed and get a qualification at the same time.

As ICAN Thrive™ Financial Capability Development Manager, Damian Finitis, explains, The ICAN Thrive™ program builds upon the work that ICAN has been doing in the Financial Counselling and Capability space for many years. Participants will gain practical financial knowledge through budgeting, discussing consumer issues, debts, insurances, superannuation, and a whole lot more. Additionally, we’ll also be exploring goal setting (both financial and personal), and the interconnectedness of money with other aspects of people’s lives, such as health (physical, mental, emotional); basic needs, skills and employability; relationships; and sense of self.’

Majella Anderson, Indigenous Financial Capability Trainer with ICAN said, ‘The ICAN Thrive™ program is a step up from the usual basic financial literacy program.  We’re decolonising the money conversation to make it more meaningful and relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Talking about financial literacy from a cultural perspective is important for ICAN; adding cultural language and activities to the training makes it relevant to First Nations people.  With ICAN Thrive™, we’re not just talking about money, we’re talking about how money impacts all areas of a person’s life.’

All of our new recruits will complete their study through ICAN’s Registered Training Organisation, ICAN Learn.

Bernadette Pasco, Executive Officer of ICAN Learn said, ‘Financial capability work is crucial to bring financial wellbeing to Indigenous communities; it’s the glue between people in the community and their understanding about their financial rights and changes people’s money story.

‘We have Indigenous staff that can provide culturally safe contexts, and our one day per week course structure means that the trainee meets other Indigenous students and gets support from the course teacher each week to explore the complexities of the role.’

Building an Indigenous Workforce

These new positions in Queensland and Victoria are also critical for developing the financial wellbeing sector.

‘In Victoria, Indigenous financial capability workers are almost non-existent, and we really want to build opportunities for Indigenous Australians to explore their money story.’ said Bernadette.  ‘Building an Indigenous financial capability workforce here means we can link financial wellbeing to health and other community services that people use. Financial capability is an employment pathway that can really make a difference.’

Tracey Grinter, Course Coordinator and teacher at ICAN Learn, has trained and mentored many financial capability workers and is very passionate about the development of Indigenous financial capability roles.

‘There’s a real shortage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander financial capability workers in Australia’, said Tracey.  ‘It would make a real difference to Aboriginal Controlled Community Organisations (ACCO) to have financial capability workers in the future.  It means that there is a different kind of employment, and it links clients to financial counselling services and opportunities to have a yarn about money. This is the first step.’

‘Our program aims to take a holistic view of people’s lives and to do so in a culturally informed and culturally safe manner, said Damian Finitis. ‘I’m working alongside a team of incredibly passionate and knowledgeable individuals who have drawn upon their lived experiences as Indigenous people to curate the program’s content. It’s an exciting time for the ICAN Thrive™ program, and we can’t wait to welcome new people to our team.’

Apply Now! Financial Counselling & Financial Capability Workers (Identified) QLD & VIC Job in Cairns & Far North – SEEK

Meet Nicola Breeze, ICAN’s new Financial Capability Trainee!

Nicola Breeze, ICAN Thrive’s new Financial Capability Trainee

Nicola’s dream of a new career to support her young family came true when she joined the ICAN Thrive team as a Financial Capability Trainee, complete with a Certificate IV in Community Services Scholarship.  We caught up with Nicola to find out how it’s going so far.

Welcome to ICAN Nicola!  Can you tell us a bit about yourself and where you’re from?

I am an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman from Cairns.  My mum’s descendants are from Old Mapoon, her clan group is Taepadhighi.

What were you doing before you started with ICAN?

I was busy being a full-time mum to my four kids, and I also did some study in healthcare.  I was ready to take on a new career, so when I saw the job for a Financial Capability Trainee with the ICAN Thrive team, I knew I had to go for it.

Why did the Financial Capability Trainee role appeal to you?

Being offered a scholarship to complete the Certificate IV in Community Services as part of the role is a real game changer for me.  It will allow me to pass on the knowledge and skills that my people and community need to take control of their money and improve their wellbeing.

Speaking of the scholarship, how’s your study going?

I’ve just started my studies with ICAN Learn, which has been amazing.  I love having the support and guidance that I need from the teachers and other students, as well as from my colleagues.  I feel empowered in the workplace.  The support I receive helps me take the right steps in my life to succeed and provide financially for my children.  

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

I love sitting in the Thrive training sessions and seeing how engaged the clients are with the sessions and our team.  Watching a client have an ‘aha’ moment proves that our services make a difference in people’s lives.  It gives me a sense of purpose and belonging.

Has anything surprised you yet?

I’ve been surprised to learn about the depth of the financial struggles our people are experiencing.  I didn’t realise how many systemic issues were going on, like the issues around buying second-hand cars or the collapse of the ACBF/Youpla Funeral Fund.  It makes me even more determined to help bring about the change we need.  

Why should the sector have more Indigenous Financial Capability Workers and Financial Counsellors?

As an Indigenous person, I believe having more Indigenous workers on the frontline will help break down cultural barriers in the community and our everyday lives.  Other Indigenous people will relate to how I speak to them, it resonates with their being.  They will feel less shame and judgement and are more likely to seek the help they need.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about closing the gap by helping to deliver services that create change through financial literacy and education.  I want to follow in my family’s footsteps by advocating for my people and being a great role model for my kids.