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Financial education turning debt to dreams

2 December 2015

When Adrienne Windley went to her local Auckland branch to consolidate her mounting debt, she leapt at the opportunity to take part in Westpac New Zealand's intensive six-week Money Skills program.


"It has made a big difference. It's given me a better understanding of simple things, like being aware of 'leak factors', which means we're actually saving now," Adrienne said.


Created in collaboration with Massey University, the Money Skills program is designed for families across New Zealand seeking help to manage their money and escape financial hardship. It focuses on financial literacy concepts, rather than products or services.


"What really impressed me was the passion of the staff. They genuinely wanted to give us knowledge so we didn't have to keep struggling. I can now explain some of the things I learnt to our boys. It's great to think about a future where our whole family is debt-free."


"We were getting deeper and deeper in debt. What we know now, means we can start thinking more about tomorrow."


During the year, more than 60,300 people undertook financial education programs offered by Westpac Group.


Westpac Group's education to support financial capability


During 2015, the Davidson Institute - Westpac's school of money, named after financial education pioneer Sir Alfred Davidson - refreshed the way it delivers financial education. Fresh content, plus a new digital delivery platform, which is free to access, anywhere, anytime, has enabled the Davidson Institute to achieve greater scale. Now anyone can access live and recorded webinars, videos and articles designed to provide a range of basic education and tips relevant to individuals, businesses and community groups - whether it is about budgeting, setting up a self-managed super fund or starting a business.


The Davidson Institute also adopted a 'train the trainer' approach, coaching local team members to deliver tailored, face to face education sessions. For example, our Indigenous Business Managers have supported customers by holding money management education sessions with their employees and bank managers plan to deliver Financial First Steps to school students. Similarly, education tools have been developed for our community partners, including Mission Australia Housing to support their clients in managing their money better with a view to keeping up with rent.


In New Zealand, we continued to help more people improve their financial understanding and management, having met our target of 120,000 people participating in our money management education programs since 2009.


This included people taking part in face-to-face workshops run by Westpac across New Zealand in schools, workplaces, branches, community centres and marae (the focal point of Maori communities), as well as those accessing our online tutorial, smart phone apps and short online videos. We are also seeing positive results emerging from our new intensive six week program, Money Skills. Aimed at families across New Zealand who are seeking help to manage their money and escape financial hardship, the program focuses on financial literacy concepts, rather than products or services. Evaluation of the program by Westpac Massey Fin Ed Centre has shown that the families who participated are now saving more, paying bills on time and have an improved understanding of how to seek help from a bank.