Financial Literacy among Marginalised Women ?· A number of issues influence women’s financial ...…

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  • Financial Literacy among Marginalised Women

  • Commonwealth of Australia 2007

    ISBN 9781921380594

    This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without prior written permission from the Commonwealth available from the Commonwealth Copyright Administration, Attorney-Generals Department. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to the Commonwealth Copyright Administration, Attorney-Generals, Robert Garran Ofces, National Circuit, Canberra ACT 2600 or posted at http://www.ag.gov.au/cca

    DISCLAIMER: RPR Consulting prepared the information in this publication about nancial literacy programs and approaches for marginalised women. It draws on information, opinions and advice provided by a variety of individuals and organisations, including the Australian Government. The Commonwealth accepts no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of any material contained in this publication. Additionally, the Commonwealth disclaims all liability to any person in respect of anything, and of the consequences of anything, done or omitted to be done by any such person in reliance, whether wholly or partially, upon any information presented in this publication.

    The views expressed in this report do not represent the views of the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Aairs, the Minister for Education, Science and Training and the Minister assisting the Prime Minister on Womens Issues or the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Aairs or indicate a commitment to a particular course of action.

    For Additional copies or more information please contact:

    The Australian Government Ofce for Women PO Box 7788 Canberra Mail Centre ACT 2610

    Telephone: 1800 050 009 (*free call unless calling from a mobile or pay phone)

    www.ofw.facsia.gov.au

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    Contents

    Foreword ............................................................................................................................................. 3

    01 Executive summary and recommendations .................................................................................. 5

    02 Introduction ................................................................................................................................. 8

    03 Key findings Access to financial information .............................................................................. 11

    04 Key findings Barriers to accessing services and information ...................................................... 16

    05 Key findings Life-stage financial literacy needs .......................................................................... 22

    06 Key findings Opportunities to help marginalised women improve their financial literacy ............. 25

    07 Summary and Recommendations ................................................................................................ 29

    08 References .................................................................................................................................. 32

    Appendix 1 Literature Review .................................................................................................. 33

    Appendix 2 Roundtable participants ........................................................................................ 56

    Appendix 3 Focus groups ........................................................................................................ 58

    Appendix 4 Focus group questions .......................................................................................... 60

    Appendix 5 Summary table ...................................................................................................... 62

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    Foreword by Hon Julie Bishop MP

    The focus groups for this research included women who are carers, women from culturally linguistically diverse backgrounds, Indigenous women, women with disability, single mothers, women in rural and remote locations, and older women, including widows.

    The research has identified women, and in particular marginalised women, as having relatively low levels of financial literacy. It has also highlighted information is often difficult to access and is not seen as relevant or targeted towards the particular needs of women.

    Improving financial literacy amongst marginalised women will enhance their ability to make informed financial decisions and improve their economic status and long-term well being.

    I commend Financial Literacy Among Marginalised Women to you as a useful resource. I congratulate RPR Consulting on the preparation of such a high quality report.

    The report is available in electronic and hard copy formats from the Australian Government website at www.ofw.facsia.gov.au/publications

    The Hon Julie Bishop MP

    Minister for Education, Science and Training Minister Assisting the Prime Minster For Womens Issues

    Foreword

    The Australian Government is committed to providing all Australians with the necessary information to enable them to make informed financial choices.

    To progress this commitment, the Australian Government has commissioned research, Financial Literacy Among Marginalised Women which provides valuable insights into how women, and in particular, marginalised women, gain access to and make sense of financial information.

    The research project is based on a literature review about womens financial literacy, roundtable discussions with peak womens and welfare groups, and focus group discussions with women in urban, regional and remote areas of Australia.

    The Hon Julie Bishop MP Minister for Education, Science and Training Minister Assisting the Prime Minster for Womens Issues

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    Chapter One

    1.1 - BACKGROund

    The Australian Governments interest in financial literacy has grown as a result of the increasing complexity of financial products and services and concerns that many Australians do not have the necessary financial skills to make informed choices. under its Election 2004 Policy, Super for All and Understanding Money, the Australian Government established the Financial Literacy Foundation to deliver its commitment to provide Australians with the opportunity to build their capacity to better manage their money.

    There has been a scarcity of research into issues affecting particular groups, including marginalised women, in relation to financial literacy. Particularly as to how these groups access financial information, the barriers they encounter and the opportunities they have to improve their financial literacy. This research project has sought to identify these issues and to investigate the views of marginalised women.

    A number of issues influence womens financial well-being, including that women in general spend less time in the paid workforce than men, are less likely to be paid overtime than men and are more likely to have interrupted career patterns due to caring responsibilities. Womens employment is also concentrated in lower-paying sectors and occupations. This has implications for womens financial management and security, as well as superannuation and retirement savings.

    Women, and in particular marginalised women, have been identified as having relatively low levels of financial literacy (AnZ 2005). Target groups for this research included women who are carers, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALd) women, Indigenous

    women, women with a disability, single mothers, women in rural and remote locations, and older women, including widows.

    This research project has been staged in two parts. Stage 1 included a review of Australian and international literature pertaining to womens financial literacy (Appendix 1) and five Roundtable discussions with peak groups to identify issues for women from marginal groups in regard to financial literacy. The Roundtables also collected information to assist in the development of an interview methodology for Stage 2.

    Stage 2 involved conducting 15 focus groups with 150 marginalised women from the target groups in urban, regional and remote areas.

    1.2 - KEy RESEARCH FIndInGS

    1.2.1 - Access to financial information

    The marginalised women who participated in this research project have developed a range of strategies to budget and manage their finances. Their access to financial information on which to base financial decision-making has often been developed through a process of trial and error.

    Financial counsellors including those at Centrelink were reported as providing helpful advice, although they were a scarce resource with long waiting lists. Paid financial advice had assisted some women with their investments, while others found the advice confusing and not relevant and reliable. Banks were not viewed favourably as a source of financial advice for the majority of marginalised women, who believed banks were only interested in selling their products.

    01 - Executive summary and recommendations

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    Executive summary and recommendations

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    The Internet is a useful source of financial information for some younger women with computer skills and easy access to a computer. Other groups of women found accessing financial information through the Internet to be a confusing and frustrating experience. Community organisations, including neighbourhood centres, migrant resource centres and family support services were reported as a helpful source of budgeting advice for some women, principally those women already in contact with such an organisation. Community organisations also act as a referral and information source for some women.

    1.2.2 - Barriers to accessing services and information

    The common barriers to marginalised women improving their financial literacy fall into four broad categories: social and cultural, physical, educational and financial. Particular groups of marginalised women experienced these barriers to differing degrees.

    Women who are carers reported major barriers in obtaining clear information on their entitlements from Centrelink. They cited the lack of personalised service, the complexity of the system of entitlements and the lack of transparency when seeking information. Isolation due to their caring responsibilities also affected their capacity to access information from others in the same situation.

    Older women faced barriers such as having to take financial responsibility late in life when widowed; finding trusted sources of advice; and feeling overwhelmed by the range of products and services.

    CALd women reported cultural attitudes to money as being a major barrier to being able to access and deal with Australian financial institutions and government income-support agencies. Lack of financial information in CALd womens first language and difficulties in accessing interpreter services are additional barriers for some women.

    Barriers reported by women with disabilities include: lack of support and understanding of their situation from Centrelink; the cost and suitability of transport for women who cannot drive in order to access banks and computers in libraries; and the lack of financial information in Braille, on tape and pictograms (for women with a cognitive disability).

    Rural women faced physical barriers to accessing financial information, including rural bank closures, lack of counselling and other support services in rural areas, and the time involved and cost of petrol to travel long distances.

    Accessing accurate and relevant information from Centrelink had proved difficult for some single mothers. The barriers they cited include: not being told about Centrepay (a direct bill-paying service); being given inconsistent information; receiving letters from Centrelink containing unnecessarily complex language; and difficulties navigating the Centrelink web site.

    The women in the Indigenous focus groups lived in very different circumstances from each other and the barriers they faced were influenced by factors such as geographic location (isolation, lack of services and public transport in remote areas, increasing costs of fuel); age (lack of financial role models when they were growing up); and employment status (lack of budgeting skills).

    1.2.3 - Life-stage financial literacy needs

    Targeted life-stage financial advice is required by many women at transition points in their lives. These transitionary times include: leaving school; starting work and leaving home; having and raising a family; buying a home; separation and divorce; retirement and older age. Even though there is frequently little motivation to access information ahead of the time, female participants in this research thought it was important to make information available when it is needed.

    1.2.4 - Opportunities to help marginalised women improve their financial literacy

    A sample of existing financial education programs and approaches was outlined in the literature review (Appendix 1). A number of these approaches were tested in the focus groups with the findings providing some clarity on the types of approaches favoured by marginalised women to increase their skills and knowledge on financial issues.

    One-off workshops and seminars were seen as a good start to improving financial understanding on particular topics that can be covered in a day or half-day. The benefits of longer courses include the development of financial skills and knowledge over an extended period. Courses that include financial skills development as part of a broader program of living skills or home management were also seen as useful by some women. Longer courses appealed to women with the time and capacity to attend and who liked learning with peers.

    Print-based information (booklets, brochures and fact sheets) is also useful, particularly in conjunction with face-to-face information provision.

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    Executive summary and recommendations

    1.3 - SuMMARy And RECOMMEndATIOnS

    The focus of this research project has been on the core questions of how marginalised women access financial information, the barriers they encounter in attempting to do so, and the opportunities that exist to improve their financial literacy.

    Women require financial literacy to ensure their own and often their families economic security. Falling marriage rates, rising divorce rates, and the earlier death of men mean women are more likely to have to rely on their own financial literacy skills for managing their money. Many marginalised women are vulnerable to slight shifts in their financial circumstances and the benefits of increased access to paid employment realised by some women have not been able to be achieved by many marginalised women.

    Focus group findings reinforced the Roundtable discussi...

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