On May 19th, ICAN’s own Unaisi Buli was awarded the prestigious Jan Pentland Prize at the national Financial Counselling Australia Conference held in Darwin, in recognition of her outstanding work in financial counselling. For Unaisi, her work as a Financial Counsellor is a journey that began with seeing injustices happening to her people on a daily basis when she worked as a teller in a bank, over ten years ago.
Unaisi Buli began her career as a Financial Counsellor in 2010, when she started with ICAN as a Financial Counselling Support Officer and became an accredited Financial Counsellor in 2012 when she completed her Diploma of Community Services (Financial Counselling). She recalls the experiences of those early years on the front line in a local bank, as fundamental to her financial counselling pathway.
“I remember seeing First Nations people coming into the bank and seeing the financial detriment of overdrawn accounts on a daily basis,” Unaisi said. “I didn’t know about financial counselling back then, and I worried for the elderly customers, whom I witnessed elder abuse on a regular basis when they withdrew their money at the branch, and it broke my heart.”
“This was a driver for me to want to turn to financial counselling. I really felt like this profession was the missing piece for me and I love it,” she said.
Unaisi has dedicated over ten years to providing financial counselling services to people across Far North Queensland. With a tireless commitment to getting positive outcomes for her clients, she has demonstrated a passion and deep commitment to obtaining positive systemic change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across North and Far North Queensland, and Australia more broadly.
“Unaisi demonstrates a tireless commitment and passion to driving positive systemic change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across North and Far North Queensland, and Australia more broadly,” said June Smith, Chair of the Jan Pentland Prize Committee and Deputy Chair of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).
“Unaisi is described by her nominees as a dedicated advocate and role model for her community – particularly for the women of Cairns and Cape York – her colleagues and her agency.”
“She strives to ensure that the First Nations communities she serves have access to the highest standard of financial counselling.”
“After working in other industries, it is so great to be able to be a financial counsellor and help my people in a meaningful way,” said Unaisi. “I’m humbled and honoured to be this year’s recipient of the Jan Pentland Award.”