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Creating financial resilience and social capital through cross-sector partnerships: The case of Saver Plus, Australia Associate Professor Roslyn Russell,

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Presentation on theme: "Creating financial resilience and social capital through cross-sector partnerships: The case of Saver Plus, Australia Associate Professor Roslyn Russell,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Creating financial resilience and social capital through cross-sector partnerships: The case of Saver Plus, Australia Associate Professor Roslyn Russell, RMIT University, Melbourne Australia Mr Gerard Brody, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Melbourne Australia Ms Lauren Wall, RMIT University, Melbourne Australia

2 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference 2 Overview of presentation 1.Financial capability and inclusion in Australia – overview and background 2.Saver Plus – design and history 3.Impacts for Saver Plus participants and community – outcomes of evaluation program 4.National expansion – Support from Federal Government 5.Challenges for growth and sustainability 6.Concluding remarks

3 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference 3 1. Financial capability and inclusion in Australia Financial capability, inclusion and asset-building initiatives in Australia have largely been driven through community activities, and through community-corporate partnerships – matched savings programs – small loans programs (no interest and low interest) – financial capability and education initiatives Government has traditionally provided income support, emergency relief (material aid), financial counselling and legal assistance – crisis driven responses not aimed at encouraging development of assets as key to improving wellbeing

4 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference 4 2. Saver Plus – overview Matched saving and financial education program helping low-income people establish a long term savings habit Assists families on low incomes save for their childrens or their own vocational education by providing: – Assistance with the development of personal financial skills – Personal support to implement a savings plan – Dollar for dollar matching incentive (up to $500)

5 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference 5 2. Saver Plus – history Saver Plus was developed by ANZ and the Brotherhood of St Laurence in 2003 Saver Plus is delivered through partnerships with local community organisations Over 7,000 people have participated in Saver Plus between 2004 and 2010 Strong research base demonstrating success in achieving objectives

6 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference 6 2. Saver Plus – how it works

7 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference 7 2. Saver Plus - eligibility To be eligible for Saver Plus customers must: – be over 18 years of age – have a Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession Card (proxy for low-income) – have some income from paid employment – have a child attending school or be attending or returning to vocational education themselves The target group is low income earners – Approximately 2.8% of the population meet this eligibility criteria, and up to 4% of people in the communities we are targeting

8 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference 8 3. Impacts of Saver Plus – key outcomes Overall, 99.1% of participants reported a positive experience with the program From the people who commenced the program, 82.7% completed and received matched funds (17.3% drop out rate) During the most recent evaluation period, 95.9% of participants who had completed the program met (56.4%) or exceeded their savings goal (39.5%). Around 80% of participants believe they can continue to save the same amount or more after completing the program. The average monthly deposit amount was $154. There were 84.5% of participants who met or exceeded their goal and were also able to decrease their levels of debt during the program.

9 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference 9 3. Outcomes of Saver Plus – social outcomes Increased self-esteem and confidence Reduced stress Increased positive education Greater propensity to plan for the future Feelings of greater control Positive intergenerational effects Increased social networks

10 3. Saver Plus – participant experiences For the first time, I feel like Im providing for my son instead of limiting him. I had a total change in attitude and just started to plan my life because it is my life and nobody else is going to. We have been able to continue saving $50 per fortnight which gives us plenty for our daughters education expenses with some left over for the following year. This year we have $1000 to go towards next year when she starts VCE. Without Saver Plus, we would never have been in this position. God bless Saver Plus Saver Plus has given me increased motivation. Enabled me to improve computer skills and access to job search sites, which leads to increased employment. Doing Saver Plus was a life-changing experience. I now do so many things that I learnt with this program. Like actually saving and I can now pay my bills on time. My family are happier. And we even saved and had a little holiday. FANTASTIC

11 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference Saver Plus – social capital impacts Social Capital The norms and networks that facilitate collective action (Woolcock, 2000) Social structures embedded in social capital can be vertical and / or horizontal. bonding between groups bonding within groups bonding between individuals and higher level organisations Draws attention to the relationships or structures that exist within a community rather than just the individual elements or actors (Coleman, 1988) Includes the establishment of norms of trust and reciprocity

12 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference Saver Plus – social capital impacts Resources Capital – Bank & Govt Community Capital – Community organisations Participants - Human Capital

13 3. Saver Plus – social capital impacts Building Networks Sharing Information, resources Friendships Buying Groups Building trust Volunteering Win, win outcomes Saver Plus - Building Trust & Reciprocity Building relationships Strengthening relationships in the community Access to community resources Banks & Govt - Resources Capital Community organisations - Community Capital Participants - Human Capital

14 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference National Expansion From 2003 to 2008, Saver Plus grew from an initial 3 pilot sites to approximately 20 sites throughout Eastern Australia with support from ANZ and some state governments In February 2009, as part of economic stimulus, the Federal Government announced $50m to be made available for programs that build financial resilience and capability Saver Plus partnership obtained $13.5m to fund expansion of Saver Plus across Australia.

15 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference National Expansion – Saver Plus timeline Pilot phase 2: 2004 – sites across 3 states 408 participants Phase 3: 2006 – sites across 4 states + ACT Up to 5000 participants (2,930 completed) Pilot phase 1: 2003 – sites across 2 states 268 participants Phase 4: sites across 4 states + ACT Up to 6000 participants (3,950 completed to date)

16 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference National Expansion 16 Saver Plus now available from 60 sites Coverage across all states and territories Coverage across approx 55% of ANZ branches Up to 7,600 expected participants from early 2010 – mid 2011

17 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference National expansion – governance Innovative network governance model adopted Saver Plus Expansion Steering Committee, with representation from: – ANZ – Brotherhood of St Laurence – Other primary delivery partners (The Smith Family; The Benevolent Society; Berry Street Victoria) – Australian Government (Department of Families, Housing, Community Services & Indigenous Affairs) Committee guides and oversees the expansion process, with Brotherhood as government contractual partner

18 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference National expansion – management Brotherhood of St Laurence has created the Saver Plus National Office, which provides support to partners and delivery agencies: – site establishment assistance – training and professional development of workers – promotion, community engagement and recruitment assistance – quality assurance – database management, reporting and matched saving administration IP partners (BSL and ANZ) remain responsible for strategic management

19 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference Challenges for growth and sustainability Funding provided by the Federal Government related to economic stimulus – significant advocacy activities being undertaken by partnership to ensure ongoing government support – partnership must plan for possibility that wont receive ongoing funding from Federal Government, or not at the same level Importance of ongoing evaluation and research program to demonstrate social, economic and community outcomes

20 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference Challenges for growth and sustainability Partnership, through its advocacy, can help Government articulate a strategy for financial assistance and support – Link up Governments activities in emergency relief, financial counselling, financial capability initiatives and programs that build longer-term financial resilience – Link to Government agenda around social inclusion The Brotherhood has also taken a role in highlighting inequities of policies that support the development of assets – asset-building support has focused on wealthy, through superannuation and tax incentives for home ownership and property investment

21 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference Challenges for growth and sustainability There are also practical challenges for growth of the program: – how do we allow equal access to the program across the nation, including remote geographic locations – availability and ability of expert local community organisation to deliver Saver Plus in a community – the need for ANZ (or someone else) to provide increasing amounts of matched funding

22 RMIT University©2010 Assets for Learning Conference Concluding remarks Saver Plus has demonstrated its ability to promote long- term savings habits among low-income earners – particularly able to transform non-savers to instrumental, goal- oriented savers; and from prior instrumental savers to dedicated savers. Broader social benefits have also been demonstrated – for example participants are sharing their experiences with their children who in many cases have adopted saving habits too. The cross-sector partnership delivery model is a crucial factor in the success of Saver Plus and is also responsible for facilitating the development of social capital in the communities where it is delivered.


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