This week, CSI celebrates with Good Shepherd Microfinance, EY, and the Australian Government on the successful completion of phase one of the Financial Inclusion Action Plan.CSI is also proud to say that two of its partner universities, Swinburne University of Technology and UNSW Sydney, are demonstrating leadership on this issue in the education space having launched their own FIAPs in Phase One of the FIAP program. I’ve asked the FIAP research lead, Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Research Director Dr Abigail Powell to share her insights from the evaluation.
FIAP: What is it?
The Financial Inclusion Action Plan (FIAP) Program was launched in November 2016. It was funded by the Department of Social Services and led by Good Shepherd Microfinance, in partnership with the Centre for Social Impact, and EY. The vision was simple: building the financial inclusion and resilience of people in Australia. We know that in Australia, in 2016, close to 1 in 5 adults could not, or did not know if they could raise $2,000 in a week in a financial emergency. More than 3.3 million people in Australia are financially excluded, meaning they have limited access to mainstream financial institutions and their banking and insurance products. In a wealthy country like Australia, this isn’t good enough.
Today, the FIAP Program provides a platform for organisations from diverse sectors to combine forces to collectively improve the lives of millions of people in Australia. Thirty organisations (FIAP Trailblazers) joined Phase One of this program — together they employ over 250,000 people and have almost 80 percent of the Australian population as customers.
Financial inclusion and resilience are not the responsibility of any one individual, nor is it the responsibility of any one sector. FIAP’s trailblazing organisations represent financial services, utilities, social services, government, education and legal services amongst other sectors.
FIAP: Taking action
Together the trailblazers have committed 580 actions to address these issues. Broadly, these actions cover user-centred product design and delivery, supportive policies and processes, collaboration for collective action, enhancing financial capability, training and programs to enhance staff capabilities, and shared research, advocacy and evaluation.
You can read more about these actions at fiap.org.au.
Importantly, the FIAP Program is not just a group of organisations tackling financial inclusion under one umbrella. Organisations involved have demonstrated a strong desire to collaborate and learn from others, making the FIAP program more than the sum of its parts.
What did we learn in Phase One?
The completion of phase one is just the beginning. The FIAP phase one evaluation, conducted by CSI, revealed a number of challenges and opportunities to improve, which will be tackled over the coming months. These include the need for:
Ongoing commitment from Trailblazers to collect and report on outcomes data is key to its success. You can follow the FIAP Program’s progress and learn more about the program here.
Dr Abigail Powell