December 12, 2017

Media Release: Research reveals two key issues that affect people’s financial resilience: Access to financial products and services and employment status

December 13, 2017

Released today, Part 2 and 3 of Financial Resilience in Australia, produced by the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) at UNSW Sydney in partnership with NAB, uncovered the key issues contributing to a declining number of Australians who feel financially secure. 

Part 2, Financial Resilience and Access to Financial Products and Services, revealed that a growing number of Australians are at risk of not being able to access the financial products and services they need. Part 3, Financial Resilience and Employment, shows that both employment status and type are critical factors that influence a person’s financial resilience.

Part 2: Financial Resilience and Access to Financial Products and Services

Part 2 of the report found that Australians with low levels of access to products and services including a bank account, an appropriate level of credit and insurance, tend to experience significant barriers.

The report highlights the groups who have significantly lower levels of access than the general population, these include; people on low incomes, people who are unemployed or underemployed, young people, people living in social housing, and people with a probable mental illness.

Report author and CSI CEO Professor Kristy Muir said that it was important to find ways to ensure there are adequate safety nets in place to prevent Australians from getting into an arrangement where they are faced with unmanageable debt. 

“There is a clear and present need for the provision of appropriate, accessible, and affordable financial solutions for financially vulnerable groups in our society.

This is crucial if we are to be serious about meeting needs, addressing poverty and strengthening financial resilience.”

The report also showed that people with low, or very low levels of financial products and services were more likely to have used high cost fringe credit.

Elliot Anderson, Head of Financial Inclusion at NAB said that this research reaffirms NAB’s commitment to building a more financially resilient Australia.

“This year, we have extended our commitment through our partnership with Good Shepherd Microfinance by pledging to provide 100,000 loans annually within two years to Australians on low incomes.

To date, through our partnership we have helped 500,000 Australians, but we know there is more that needs to be done.”

Part 3: Financial Resilience and Employment

Employment is unsurprisingly one of the positive factors associated with financial resilience. While having a full-time or part-time job meant people had a higher level of financial resilience, the research also shows that having a job does not automatically protect you from financial vulnerability.

Professor Muir explains, “We know that almost one in three people living in poverty in Australia are in fact engaged in employment and report a salary as being their main source of income. Having a job is by no means a guarantee against being in poverty. This relates to low wages, underemployment, the casualisation of work and the increased participation in the ‘gig economy’ of flexible, short term employment contracts.”

Professor Muir highlighted that different types of employment contracts also have significant effects on a person’s financial resilience. “We found 16.4% of casual workers are facing severe or high financial stress, compared to only 6.7% of contract workers with paid leave entitlements.”

The report highlights the unemployed and underemployed as the most vulnerable groups in Australia when measuring levels of financial resilience, but also shows that the increasing casualisation of the workforce is likely to impact people’s ability to bounce back from a financial shock. 

“The current unemployment benefit in Australia is more than $100 below the poverty line,” said Professor Muir. “At CSI we believe this raises concern for both the capacity of unemployed Australians to deal with day-to-day expenses, much less financial shocks, but also their ability to escape poverty.” 

Across the three parts of the report, Financial Resilience in Australia, it is evident that affordable, accessible and appropriate support needs to be provided to vulnerable groups - such as fair and affordable financial products and services like low and no interest loans - to ensure people do not experience significant financial stress.

Parts 1, 2 & 3 of Financial Resilience in Australia are available online at: www.csi.edu.au/financialresilience

More information on NAB’s commitment to building a more financially resilient Australia is online at: nab.com.au/financialresilience

 

Media enquires:

CSI – Nicola Hannigan 0407 075 307 – n.hannigan@unsw.edu.au

NAB – Kylie Breckenridge 0402 746 226 – kylie.breckenridge@nab.com.au

 

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