Experts Urge a Comprehensive “Whole Systems” Approach to Close the Financial Literacy Gap

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In light of Global Money Week, the demand for transforming our current educational and assistance programs is paramount to bridging many Australians’ persistent financial education gaps.

The Melbourne Institute’s most recent Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey of over 17,000 Australians has revealed a worrying decline in financial literacy levels across all age groups. The most significant drops are seen among 15-24-year-olds.

Results of a survey conducted by the Ecstra Foundation revealed that 98% of parents and teachers feel financial education is essential. Yet, only 32% were aware or believed their child was receiving it in schools.

During Global Money Week, Caroline Stewart, CEO of the Ecstra Foundation, underscores that more resources and attention should be devoted to promoting financial literacy in Australian schools and communities.

“Global Money Week emphasises the significance of educating young people on financial matters, teaching them the essential skills to make informed decisions and ultimately helping them attain fiscal stability,” Steward said. 

Stewart asserted that progress in these areas is only possible if the persistent disparities in financial literacy and capability are adequately recognised and addressed.

Numerous individuals, businesses, and organisations are dedicated to improving financial literacy in Australia; however, the HILDA data and other research indicate that Australians’ knowledge of finances will decrease without a comprehensive strategy to promote financial education.

While Australia’s school curriculum includes financial literacy as part of maths, humanities, economics, and business studies courses – there still needs to be a comprehensive method for designing, teaching, or assessing the impact of such initiatives.

According to Stewart, in a complex world with rising expenses and financial stress for many families, knowledge of personal finance cannot replace effective consumer protection policies that are regulated.

Money education is an ongoing process, and school-based programs and community initiatives can be essential for improvement. That’s why the Australian Government must act now to recommit to the National Financial Capability Strategy – a project taken up by Treasury in 2021.

To remedy Australia’s lack of financial literacy in education, Ecstra debuted its Talk Money program early this year. Since then, over 110,000 young Australians have had the opportunity to participate in this free initiative – available to all schools across years 5-10.

The stimulating in-class workshops provide students with a lifetime of money knowledge and enable them to pose inquiries, review what they’ve learned, and bring their newfound understanding back home.

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