Money in Indigenous Australia, 3 Minute Thesis | RMIT University

Uploaded by rmitmedia on 01.11.2012

>>Vinita Godinho: Good afternoon, I'd like to introduce you to Coorah, an Aboriginal
girl living in remote territory. Research tells us that her life expectancy
is 12 years less than other Aussie kids. That she's three times less likely to finish
school or find employment, earning only half the average income. This is called social
disadvantage and as a mother, it concerns me. But that's not all. There's no bank
in Coorah's community. In order to find out her account balance or withdraw cash,
she must use an ATM which can charge her up to $2.50 for each transaction that for you
and me is free. No bank also means no savings and no credit history. So to borrow even a
small amount of money, she must rely on money lenders who can charge her very high rates
of interest. This is called financial exclusion and as a banker, it concerns me too.
Research tells us that people who manage their money well are healthier, happier, more productive
citizens. But Coorah's people have had very little experience with money. For centuries
their traditional culture has survived without money and cash was introduced relatively recently.
Policymakers should of course be providing education and training about money and how
to use it more wisely. But can they assume that after such a short history with money,
Coorah's people can see it, understand it and want to use it the same way as the average
consumer? Unfortunately there's very little research available on the needs of indigenous
consumers so education, policy, training and even banking products are designed for the
needs of mainstream Australia. This is the gap that my PhD hopes to bridge, looking at
money through Coorah's eyes.
Does culture influence the way in which Coorah sees money, values it and wants to use it?
Does it impact her needs as a consumer of banking? Should banks design products and
services that help her meet her financial needs rather than assume that all consumers
have similar understandings and needs? I have used story telling and the sociology of money
to answer these questions and have found that for Coorah's people, money is a medium of
relationships and caring, not the impersonal medium of exchange we bankers assume that
it is. I will use this understanding to design the framework for culturally appropriate banking
for Coorah's people. My message can help Coorah to manage her money better and be a
healthier, happier, more productive citizen. We can even save some of the $10 billion banked
each year on addressing indigenous disadvantage.
My dream as a mother, banker and researcher is for a more inclusive banking world where
the needs of every consumer, irrespective of colour or culture are treated as equally
important. Thank you for listening.