The Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network Ltd (ICAN) is increasing financial literacy and improving access to services in remote Aboriginal Queensland communities.
Commencing in mid-2008, the Money Management Program (MMP) has become a well-established service in the Yarrabah and Palm Island Aboriginal communities.
The program runs financial literacy training and access to financial counseling services and provides support to households and individuals.
Jon O’Mally, ICAN Services Manager has observed how the program has changed in two years.
“The Money Management Program has expanded to meet the needs of the communities,” he said.
“We have moved beyond just providing financial literacy and counseling, into new areas of service delivery.”
The programs now include Tax-Help and the No Interest Loan Scheme.
The MMP program has serviced 800 people, with a total benefit to the community that evaluates to $3.5 million.
Jon says these results are achieved by staffing the MMP program with local people. He says the local staff keep a close eye on unusual activities happening in the community, including dodgy door to door trading and mobile phone contracts entered into via telemarketing.
Aaron Davis, ICAN CEO says that ICAN’s consumer advocacy service delivery plays an important role in the programs.
“The program is also about educating people about their responsibilities and rights as consumers and to defend people who are being exploited by these traders,” he said.
Jon sees the impact of the programs as community understanding and responsiveness to what the ICAN service can do for them.
“The communities know how to access the service and seek help when they think something or someone is acting in a dodgy way,” he said.
The programs are funded by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. The MMP began as a pilot trial under the federal ‘Welfare Reform’ policy (FaHCSIA 2010).
ICAN is a free financial counseling and consumer advocacy service for Indigenous Australians.