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Money talks: overcoming the financial exclusion problems faced by Indigenous Australians

  • Year: 2003
  • Author: McDonnell, Siobhan
  • Journal Name: Australian Social Policy Conference
  • Publisher: Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales
  • Published Location: Sydney, NSW
  • Country: Australia

A lack of access to banking and financial services, otherwise termed financial exclusion, is one of the key aspects of the social exclusion of low income groups in Australian society. Individuals without access to banking services are at an economic disadvantage. Without the ability to save, individuals are denied a range of economic opportunities and, in particular, the opportunity to break out of the 'poverty trap'. As a large and increasing proportion of the population in rural and remote Australia, Indigenous people have been seriously impacted by the removal of banking and financial services from these areas. In addition to problems of accessing banking and financial services, many Indigenous people have low levels of financial literacy. The problems of financial exclusion that many Indigenous people face will only be solved by initiatives which focus on providing Indigenous people with 'informed' access to banking and financial services. Moreover, such solutions require an understanding of some of the cultural norms built into financial service delivery in Australia. This paper explores aspects of financial exclusion, drawing on fieldwork conducted with Aboriginal communities in central Australia. It concludes by discussing a number of policy initiatives that may be useful in addressing these problems, both in central Australia, and nationally.

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