Thank you so very much Nicole, and it is such a great pleasure to be here today amongst all of you. And I’d particularly like to thank Greg Medcraft for the fabulous job in putting on this tremendous breakfast, and also Paul Clitheroe for your wonderful management of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board – it is critically important.
I’m also particularly delighted to be joined by a number of ministerial colleagues: Paul Fletcher, Luke Hartsuyker, Michael McCormack, Michael Sukkar and Ken Wyatt. And I’d like to acknowledge all of the other parliamentarians in the room who have taken time to be here because they know the value of financial literacy to all Australians.
Importance of financial literacy
From the moment that Australians are born, they interact with the financial system. Whether Australians are getting their first credit card, whether they are buying their home or building a business — it is critical that they do that in a way that is informed.
Financial literacy helps not only with improving living standards but also ensures a more effective financial services industry.
With an ever wider range of financial products and financial services being made available to consumers, financial literacy empowers individuals so that they can master the complexities of decision-making around these products — and they can take full advantage of the benefits that flow from financial innovation.
Significantly, almost every Australian holds one or more financial products.
For instance, 3.2 million Australian households have a mortgage over their family home; 7.5 million Australians have a credit card and 13.9 million working-age Australians have life insurance.
Furthermore, in Australia we have $2.7 trillion held in managed funds — a figure that includes superannuation.
As these numbers highlight, improved financial literacy can benefit everyone — whatever stage of life they might be at.
National Financial Literacy Strategy
The Coalition has had a long-term commitment to financial literacy, particularly since it was made a priority by the Howard Government back in 2005.
Our National Financial Literacy Strategy, which sets out a national direction for financial literacy, provides a practical framework for action, and it is now in its second phase. In light of the Government’s longstanding support of this initiative, it was particularly encouraging to read the Highlights report, and to see the diverse and significant work being done by a range of both government, and importantly, private organisations.
The National Strategy sets out five strategic priorities for action. And the first three of the strategy’s priorities are aimed at individuals, families and communities.
The priorities are titled:
- Educating the next generation;
- Increasing the use of free, impartial information and resources; and
- Providing quality targeted guidance and support.
How we have performed
So let me, briefly, take you through how we performed in the last financial year.
When it comes to ‘Educating the next generation’, we are invested in the long game — laying the foundations for behavioural change over time. And to date we have seen some very impressive engagement.
More than 50 per cent of schools across Australia have engaged with ASIC’s MoneySmart Teaching program, which develops and supports the financial literacy capabilities of young Australians by building teacher capacity (through educators, families and the community), enabling them to teach our young people about money. And as you can tell from my current state, I have a very direct personal interest.
What’s more, more than 20,000 teachers across Australia have completed training to assist them to deliver financial literacy to students since the MoneySmart teaching program began in 2012, with about 6,000 trained just during the 2015-16 financial year.
Furthermore, more than 600,000 students have participated in other school-based programs delivered by a range of organisations, including banks.
On the ‘Use of free, impartial information and resources’ front, there have been more than 6 million visitors to ASIC’s MoneySmart website, and a further 260,000 people assisted through other financial literacy programs outside the MoneySmart teaching program.
Finally, on the matter of ‘Quality guidance and support’, we have seen more than 700,000 people assisted through targeted support activities managed by government and community partners.
Now, despite this success, there is still more work to be done. But as I have said, these are impressive numbers — they are impressive achievements — and they demonstrate real progress and achievement.
I encourage everyone to read the Highlights report to get a sense of the collective efforts of the many stakeholders who have delivered — and are delivering — these financial literacy initiatives right across Australia.
Of course, ASIC is leading this very important work. But that said, it is the collaboration across portfolios that delivers the greatest impact.
ASIC works with the department of Education, Employment, Human Services, Social Services, the Office for Women, and the Australian Taxation Office to respond to emerging consumer needs.
These partnerships are great examples of efficient and effective government practices drawing on their expertise and avoiding duplication.
Financial capacity should be important to all of us — and engagement through the National Strategy is a great opportunity to deliver wonderful results for all Australians.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my very great pleasure to officially launch the 2015–16 highlights report for the National Financial Literacy Strategy.
I encourage all of you to be part of ASIC’s consultation – setting the direction of the new National Strategy for 2018 and beyond.
And I’d also like to acknowledge, before finalising my speech, my colleague David Coleman, who will make some remarks later on, who does a very, very important job here in the Parliament in chairing the House Standing Committee on Economics.
Thank you very much.