An exciting new program is sparking interest in financial literacy on Thursday Island (T.I.), the business centre and gateway to the eighteen islands spanning across the Torres Strait.
In a partnership with Mura Kosker Sorority Inc., a local community women’s organisation, the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network Limited (ICAN) has expanded its services of financial counseling and literacy to the Torres Strait and the Northern Peninsula Area (NPA) of Cape York.
Funded by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs’ “Commonwealth Financial Counseling Fund”, the ICAN program is the first of its kind to extend its services to the remote area.
Olive Bann, ICAN Financial Counseling Support Officer is happy to see the service come to Thursday Island. “Our people need this kind of program here,” she said.
“Because we are so remote on T.I., we don’t have a lot of access to this kind of service.”
Aaron Davis, ICAN Chief Executive Officer thinks the partnership marks the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship for ICAN and the Mura Kosker Sorority.
“We are pleased to start delivering financial counseling support to Thursday Island,” said Aaron.
“As a consumer organisation, we will be able to start identifying consumer issues in the Torres Strait.”
“And that will enable ICAN to respond much quicker to consumer exploitation and assist people,” said the CEO.
Equally, Latoya Nakata, Manager of Mura Kosker, also sees benefits for the clients who come to the service for emergency relief from financial distress.
“Having a financial counselor in-house creates an additional component to our service,” the Manager said.
“It means our clients will receive a more holistic service when they come to Mura Kosker.”
It is ICAN’s holistic approach to service delivery that Olive Bann recognises as a necessary component to teaching Torres Strait Islander people about management of personal finances.
“We live in a world where we need to understand how to use money and to know what our legal rights are,” she said.
Olive says a balance needs to be achieved between the cultural world of Torres Strait Islanders and the complicated reality of consumerism.
“It is important for our people to learn the skills to walk in both worlds,” she said.
ICAN is a free financial counseling and consumer advocacy service for Indigenous Australians. Mura Kosker Sorority Inc. is a community organisation established to unite women of all ages within the Torres Strait.