Launch of ANZ MoneyMinded Impact Report
06 June 2012
***Check against delivery***
I would like to thank the ANZ Bank and Phil Chronican for inviting me to help launch the MoneyMinded Impact Report.
I would also like to commend the ANZ for its work in this field. Your longstanding dedication and commitment to financial literacy is impressive.
Before talking about financial literacy, I'd like to say a few words about Australia's economic fortunes.
As I'm sure everyone here is aware, the Australian Government has achieved its goal of bringing the Budget back to surplus.
Returning the Budget to surplus in 2012-13 will underpin the strength and stability of our economy at a time of uncertainty and transformation, and provide us with greater scope to respond to future global economic volatility
This year's Budget was designed to spread the benefits of the mining boom across our nation, sharing the wealth with those who are doing it tough, supporting business, and fostering sustainable economic growth.
Even as unemployment queues lengthen throughout the United States and much of Europe, Australia's unemployment sits below 5 percent
We continue to perform well on every economic measure, with low unemployment, contained inflation, strong public finances, a record pipeline of investment and our GDP growth is forecast to be 3.25 per cent in 2012-13, and three per cent in 2013-14.
In other words, Australia is expected to outperform every other major advanced economy.
Government support of MoneyMinded and Saver Plus programs
Returning to financial literacy…
All of us here today understand the importance of financial literacy - both in improving the lives of all Australians, and in helping our economy to operate more smoothly.
Whatever their income level, everyone needs the skills, the knowledge, and the motivation to manage their money. As the pace of life increases, and the range of consumer choices grows, financial literacy becomes ever more important.
The turbulence in global markets over the last few years has highlighted the importance of consumer and financial literacy and the interconnections between markets and consumer behaviour.
It has also demonstrated the need to reinforce core financial literacy concepts such as budgeting and saving, living within your means, using credit responsibly, diversifying your investments, and investing only in products you actually understand.
This is why the Government has an ongoing commitment to improving the financial literacy of all Australians - particularly the more vulnerable members of our community.
And this is why we are pleased to be associated with the ANZ Bank's MoneyMinded and Saver Plus programs which are delivering tangible results to thousands of Australians.
I want to recognise the collaboration that takes place between the Federal Government and the private and non-Government sectors - particularly the ANZ and the Brotherhood of St Laurence - to deliver this program.
I would also like to commend the ANZ Bank for adapting the MoneyMinded program to suit the needs of our Pacific neighbours, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.
The Government has been supporting the Saver Plus program since 2009. By providing matched savings of up to $500 per person for those individuals who complete the MoneyMinded course, Saver Plus gives financially disadvantaged people that extra bit of encouragement to gain the skills they need to build their financial awareness, knowledge and confidence.
Demonstrating our support of the MoneyMinded and Saver Plus programs, in 2011, the Government announced funding of $26 million of operational support funding over four years.
The report we are launching today is the latest measure of the success of the MoneyMinded program, and the seventh evaluation undertaken by RMIT.
As the Federal Minister responsible for financial literacy, I was particularly pleased to read about the outcomes for MoneyMinded participants.
For example, after completing the course, the proportion of Australian participants who reported that they were unable to save dropped from nearly 30 per cent to just over five per cent.
And two-thirds of participants increased their monthly savings deposits, and had cut back on spending in order to save.
Participants in Fiji and Papua New Guinea reported similar outcomes.
These findings are very heartening, and demonstrate that programs like MoneyMinded can achieve real results.
Financial Management Program
Saver Plus forms part of a suite of initiatives under the Government's Financial Management Program, managed by FaHCSIA. These programs are all designed to build financial resilience and wellbeing for the more vulnerable members of our community.
Some of the strategies under the Financial Management Program are:
Commonwealth Financial Counselling services which help people to address their financial problems and make informed choices;
the No Interest Loans Scheme which provides eligible low income people with small loans to buy essential household items;
the low interest loans scheme, StepUP, which is a stepping stone to help people on low incomes transition into mainstream credit products; and
the Home Energy Saver Scheme, which will provide support to low-income households across Australia experiencing difficulty meeting and paying for their energy needs.
National Financial Literacy Strategy
I am glad to be here speaking to you today because it gves me an opportunity confirm my strong and long held commitment to Financial Literacy.
As the Minister responsible I am pleased to say the Government's commitment to improving Financial Literacy mirrors my personal beliefs.
At a broad level, the Government has commissioned the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to be the principal agency responsible for financial literacy. As the industry regulator, ASIC promotes informed participation in the financial system, so it is ideally positioned to take the lead in advancing financial literacy in Australia.
In 2011, ASIC launched the National Financial Literacy Strategy which formalises ASIC's work on building the capacity of Australians to enhance their financial wellbeing.
The Strategy is designed to help Australians improve their financial wellbeing by providing a national framework and focus for financial literacy education and services in Australia.
The Strategy is based on a multi-level approach. While it provides Australians with trusted and independent information, tools and ongoing support, it also recognises the limits of education and information, and develops additional solutions to drive improved financial wellbeing and behavioural change.
A key aspect of the National Financial Literacy Strategy is the MoneySmart website. MoneySmart is a collaborative multi-agency strategy coordinated by ASIC.
Since its launch in March 2011, MoneySmart has had over 1.7 million unique visitors. MoneySmart also won the award for best Government Website at the 2011 Australian Web awards and was one of only 10 sites ranked by the International Organisation of Securities Commissions as "outstanding" and awarded a 5 out of 5 rating.
Later this year, I am looking forward to being involved in MoneySmart Week, which will focus attention on the importance of financial literacy. The initiative is a collaboration between business, government and community sectors and the theme for the week is "Simple Steps to Help Yourself".
Ladies and gentlemen, programs like MoneyMinded demonstrate how much we can achieve when governments work together with the private and community sectors to advance the wellbeing of Australians, and our Pacific neighbours.
Once again, I would like to commend the ANZ Bank on this important initiative.