It's been nearly two years since we last spoke to Amanda Young, CEO of the First Nation Foundation. This week, just before she heads off for the Big Super Day Out Roadshow to be held in Brisbane, Cairns and Cape York, we catch up with Amanda and find out about an 'explosion of work' including programs that have delivered life-changing results for our nations’ first people. We also learn about the increase in super funds' involvement; though more are welcome, and necessary, to see this nascent economy flourish.
"We have reunited $4.7M in lost super with Indigenous people and in one year assisted 900 people.
Q&A with Amanda Young
When we last spoke to you, you were excited about some of your training programs on areas such as gambling and health. How have they been progressing?
The excitement did not wear off: we completed two projects: one delivering Indigenous financial literacy training as a gambling harm minimisation tool, the other as a national workforce outcomes tool. We trained 180 people nationally and independent evaluations confirmed our training had huge impact for Indigenous people: created greater financial knowledge, changed behaviours like savings and increased confidence with money. We also found it might reduce harmful gambling but it was too short a period of time to show the workforce outcomes for Indigenous workers. We also trained 6 new trainers around the country to carry the legacy forward.
What have been some of the major milestones for the foundation in the last 2 years?
We have literally exploded with work: we have more than trebled our training outputs (from 50 training participants to 180 in one year), in 2018 we have increased our Indigenous superannuation outreach fivefold (10 locations from Central Australia to Cape York). We have reunited $4.7M in lost super with Indigenous people and in one year assisted 900 people. Meanwhile we are releasing three research reports by September 2018, including ground-breaking first research into Indigenous finances with the Centre for Social Impact (UNSW).
Have you seen a change since we last spoke to you in the way Super Funds are engaging with their indigenous clients? If so, in what way?
I see positive changes with plenty of room for more. Indigenous members pay fees so deserve service, despite how far away they live. We have 8 of 200 major funds investing in our Big Super Day Out events with new entrants each year (AustralianSuper, QSuper, LGIASuper, Suncorp, Cbus Super, HESTA, Future Super and Christian Super) and as always, AIST leading as the Principal Sponsor. However we still do not have any funds agreeing to ask which of their members is Indigenous, so we can better target them with services.
What are your hopes for your upcoming Big Super Day Out to be held in Brisbane, Cairns and Cape York next month?
There is $61M in lost superannuation in Cairns alone. We hope to reach up to 200 people to help them do a health check on all of their super, and to grow our stunning $4.7M figure! Most importantly we want to see Indigenous people engaged and getting more from their superannuation.
Are you still looking for more participating super funds to help with the sponsorship of your training and events going forward?
In a word, yes! Our foundation exists solely on donation from the financial services sector – we do not receive government funding. We reinvest those funds into highly effective events and products which increase Indigenous financial inclusion. This is not small beer: Indigenous Australians have regained an interest in 40% of Australian land mass and are a nascent economy waiting to flourish. We need serious investment if we are going to build financial skills for 640,000 Indigenous Australians.
Has there been a particular personal highlight for you since we last spoke?
I love seeing the dawning realisation on Indigenous people’s faces, at our training, or at our events, when they realise they can take control of money. When we fill in this gap in knowledge, you can see people walking out the door with new determination and a bright smile. Our research data confirms: we just changed their lives.
Find our more about the Big Super Day Out Roadshow
Read our previous Q&A with Amanda Young