Yarnin’ Money in the NPA

yarn_classThe ICAN team visited the Northern Peninsula Area (NPA) located at the top of Cape York last week, to deliver the first training session under Yarnin’ Money, a new outreach program aimed at providing financial literacy tools and skills for local service providers and community residents in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Far North Queensland. The Yarnin’ Money program, funded by Financial Literacy Australia, seeks to assist remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to developing financial literacy skills through a culture-centred training model, which recognises existing cultural worldviews and knowledge as the foundation to build new skills.

“The Yarnin’ Money training is a new initiative by ICAN, where ‘yarnin’ takes participants on a journey to look and see money – and money issues – from a historical, cultural, personal, family and community view” said Eddie Buli, Yarnin’ Money Coordinator and Trainer. “The delivery of the training is about our mob, our communities, our style, our yarn and the way we yarn.”

The first training session was delivered to local service providers from the five individual NPA communities: Injinoo, Umagico, New Mapoon, Bamaga and Seisia. Service Providers from My Pathway, the Northern Peninsula Area Family and Community Services, the Northern Peninsula Area Women’s Shelter and the Remote Area Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Care, participated in the training to develop financial literacy skills and gain access to financial counselling and consumer advocacy services by providing that initial support and ‘yarn’ towards supporting their own clients.

The training takes participants on a journey through their own timeline, to understand where and how money fits into one’s own cultural worldview and centres discussion on how histories and life events impact one’s view and use of money. The training also features group discussion of the impact of financial and consumer issues at a community level through the ‘Yarnin’ Money Wheel’ exercise, where participants were able to explore the issues unique to their community. “The Yarnin’ Money Wheel was a great activity that provided opportunity for a robust group discussion on budgeting” said Jon O’Mally, Yarnin’ Money Trainer.

Importantly, the training in the NPA has catalysed discussion and information exchange on systemic consumer and financial issues affecting the area. When the trainers raised examples of financial issues that can arise when purchasing a car, word spread from the training to the community, leading ICAN to assist local people to lodge financial counselling complaints relating to a flood of recent car sales (by one trader) affecting the five communities. One of the training participants further assisted ICAN in the process, by taking an active role in ten client interviews regarding the issue. “It was so valuable to have a local community worker, who was putting her training into practice, assist in the financial counselling process” said Jon.

In developing the program, Eddie explains that the program seeks to create discussions and empower decisions around money. “If we start Yarnin’ about this thing – money and budgeting – and we understand this thing in our lives, we can be boss of it as best we can” he said. “For me, yarnin’ about money is the start of where we are today, to where our young people and generations to come are going, in relation to how we look at money.”

The trainers are further excited for the potential of the program to create community-wide impact. “If the training provides just a meaningful Yarnin’ Money moment for someone and that experience is shared on, if we can see how that information has an impact first at an individual level, and how it grows to the family and community levels – then that’s the yarn.”

The Yarnin’ Money financial literacy outreach program aims to overcome geographical barriers by providing local financial literacy training coupled with ongoing support, by connecting ICAN’s financial counselling and literacy services to remote communities across Australia. The program, which will be delivered to twelve communities over three years, focuses on three delivery strands: Yarnin’ Money (Service Provider), Yarnin’ Money (Resident). Both training programs will eventually be expanded into online professional development (train the trainer) programs for financial counselling/capability workers and community services providers nationally. The Yarnin’ Money team will be heading to Thursday Island (in the Torres Strait) to provide its next training session on August 17th.

Financial Literacy Australia (FLA) is a not for profit organisation committed to advancing financial literacy in Australia. See http://finlit.org.au/ for more information.