Yarnin’ Money

Yarnin’ about money in remote Indigenous communities

At the best of times, living in remote communities has its challenges. This is not only due to the sheer tyranny of distance in getting from one place to the next, but also in the provision of quality community, health and employment services.

Jon O’Mally and Eddie Buli.

Jon O’Mally and Eddie Buli.

While financial pressures are prevalent in Indigenous communities, they are not typically talked about.

Having ties to, and a long working career in remote communities in Cape York and the Torres Strait, Eddie Buli saw the need to develop a program to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples make informed financial and consumer choices in a meaningful context.

Through the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network (ICAN), and with funding from Financial Literacy Australia*, Eddie developed Yarnin Money, a financial capability training program to provide tools and skills for local service providers and community residents in regional and remote communities.

The challenge for Eddie was how to make the program relevant when there were so many other competing priorities.

 “When I looked at my own culture, how I was raised and how knowledge was passed on, storytelling was a very significant feature.  We’ve been doing it for thousands of years so why not start Yarnin’ about these things called budget or money? If we understand this component in our lives, we can try and be boss of it as best we can.”

 Armed with Yarnin’ Money program and bespoke Yarnin’ Money Wheel − a visual tool to help people define their own financial wellbeing and that of the broader community − Eddie and his co-trainer, Jon O’Mally set off to deliver the program to communities in the far Northern Peninsula Area at the tip of Cape York in North-Eastern Australia.

 They soon uncovered a very significant issue.

“On one of our training days the discussion revealed that two people in the room had been scammed by a car dealer in Cairns,” Eddie said.

Eddie Buli delivers the Yarnin’ Money program.

Eddie Buli delivers the Yarnin’ Money program.

“We spread the word through the community and soon found that eight more people had been sold dodgy cars or hadn’t received cars they had paid for through the same car dealer.”

ICAN worked closely with the Australian Securities Investment Commission and as a result, more than $70,000 was returned to the community and the car dealership was closed.

“Without the program this issue would never have been uncovered,” Eddie said.

Over three years to mid-2018, Yarnin’ Money delivered 28 training courses to 270 participants including council and community workers, trainees and job seekers in the Northern Peninsula Area.

Jon O’Mally with some of the program’s 270 participants.

Jon O’Mally with some of the program’s 270 participants.

Yarnin’ Money has been recognised as a valuable tool for building financial capability for Indigenous Australians living in remote areas.

In December 2018 the program received additional funding from the Ian Potter Foundation. This will be used to expand the initial grant from Financial Literacy Australia to explore Canadian Community Economic Development financial literacy models and create complimentary Yarnin’s Jobs and Business financial literacy programs that will focus on the income side of the budget equation for participants.

Find out more about how ICAN is helping Indigenous communities through by visiting the website.

*The business and activities of FLA were transferred to Ecstra in December 2018