CentaCare is the official welfare service of the Catholic Church in Australia, and the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes covers the western 52 per cent of New South Wales.
Established in 1996, CentaCare Wilcannia-Forbes delivers vital programs and services in rural and remote locations in western NSW, including financial literacy education to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Lynda Edwards, Manager of the Manage Your Income, Manage Your Life program at CentaCare Wilcannia-Forbes, visited FOS Australia during NAIDOC week. Lynda spoke to FOS staff about the work she and the other Manage Your Income teams are doing with CentaCare Wilcannia-Forbes, especially in assisting people in financial hardship. She also spoke about the importance of cultural awareness and cultural competency.
The Manage Your Income Program aims to increase the financial literacy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, empowering them to make informed choices about their finances. This has a positive effect on individuals, families, and ultimately, the community as a whole.
“CentaCare Wilcannia-Forbes has always been proactive about investing in the communities it services,” Lynda said.
Part of the effort organisations like FOS can make to bridge the gap should be to collaborate with service providers on the ground in rural and remote locations. This can help ensure dispute resolution is accessible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers.
“In terms of truly building community capacity, CentaCare Wilcannia-Forbes always tries to engage team members locally. Activities are delivered by local people that already have a strong connection to their community, meaning they can hit the ground running, as they already have a great rapport with the community. It also means that the professional capacity of the community is strengthened.”
Lynda also heads up the Steering Group that coordinates a national forum for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander financial counsellors and financial capability workers. From its beginnings in 2006, Lynda has seen the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers grow and strengthen in the financial literacy space.
The ATSI Forum met in Canberra earlier this year, inviting representatives from external dispute resolution schemes to share in a conversation about the issues experienced by Indigenous consumers and the cultural barriers to making complaints.