Women’s Health in the North (WHIN)

A unique approach to talking about money

Financial knowledge is an essential tool for migrant and refugee women to be empowered decision-makers in their families and communities.  While language is a key challenge, many come from environments where they may never have used an ATM, read a bank statement or set up an electricity contract.

Based in Melbourne, Women’s Health in the North (WHIN) recognised that understanding day-to-day financial matters was a key factor for enabling migrant and refugee women to settle into their new lives in Australia.

WHIN identified two culturally diverse areas in the northern metropolitan region of Victoria that had growing migrant populations and set to work in developing a financial literacy program that could be delivered to women in those regions in their own languages.

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Twelve peer educators were selected on the basis of having multi-lingual skills and strong links with migrant and refugee women in their communities. They were trained to deliver the Let’s Talk Money workshops then adapted the material into their own languages and in a way that would be culturally meaningful. 

In just one year, 26 Let’s Talk Money workshops were delivered in Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, Syrian, Punjabi and Farsi to more than 300 women in the cities of Hume and Whittlesea.

With funding from Financial Literacy Australia, a comprehensive evaluation of Let’s Talk Money found that the program has been meeting its goals to empower women to talk about financial matters and to take control of the household finances. 

One of the peer educators stated: “It’s a really challenging topic for women from different cultures where with things like money matters, they’re not really that open.  They are sharing their learnings with their families and communities – this is a really new thing to introduce.”

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A further outcome of the program is that it has created career paths for the peer educators with two scholarships granted to study for a diploma in financial counselling.

One of the scholarship recipients, Aisha, came to Australia from Pakistan with her husband and small child on a skilled immigration visa. Aisha commenced her peer educator training with WHIN in early 2017, and has delivered workshops in Hindi and Urdu to women living in Melbourne’s north-western suburbs.

“Let’s Talk Money has given me the skills, information and confidence to give financial workshops to women in my community in our own language. There are no cultural and language barriers and I can offer suggestions, advice and support to empower them. I am playing my part to build strong and confident community who can save and budget, realise their life goals and manage their life in a proper way so that they don’t have to deal with debt issues in future.”

With a successful track record, Lets Talk Money will continue to expand over 2019-2020 with further funding from Ecstra Foundation, the Victorian Government Office for Multicultural Affairs and Social Cohesion, the Collier Charitable Fund and Victorian Women’s Benevolent Trust. Twelve new peer educators will be recruited to deliver the workshops in five additional regions in Victoria.