A financial literacy program Budget Blitz! is about to kick off at Geeveston Community Centre (GECO) in Tasmania’s Huon region, 62 km south-west of Hobart.
The Centre was announced in March as one of 10 successful recipients of the state government’s Financial Literacy Exchange (FLEX) grants. The FLEX program aims to equip disadvantaged and low-income Tasmanians with the skills to better manage their household budgets.
Geeveston Centre volunteers will undertake intensive training in helping people who might be struggling financially to manage better on a tight budget.
Lucy Whitehead, the Centre’s Literacy Co-ordinator, says that centre staff and volunteers noticed a need for financial literacy training through their work in the Centre’s Food Pantry program.
‘We noticed that some people were coming back repeatedly for emergency food. And that’s not an easy thing for most people to do. There’s a lot of pride involved.’
Food Pantry staff approached people they thought were really struggling and offered them a chance to talk about their finances. ‘Having established a trusting relationship with people made it easier for them and us to have a discussion about how they were managing their money.’
Financial literacy is something a lot of us take for granted. Lucy says it involves being aware of and income and expenses; being able to read and understand bills and being able to plan ahead and spend carefully.
Financial literacy programs like Budget Blitz! aim to help people to learn the skills and develop the confidence to make more informed decisions when it comes to managing money.
Lucy says Geeveston Centre has helped people with their budgeting in the past. The Centre is a NILS (No Interest Loan Scheme) agent, and with FLEX funding, the Centre will be producing more ‘Cash Up’ guides, a practical guide that offers recipes, planners, advice and resources for living on a tight budget.
The ‘Cash Up’ guide and its money-saving tips is popular and not just with people on low incomes. ‘One woman told me that she’d never thought that putting less water in the kettle would save on electricity.’
Three volunteers and one staff member will undergo intensive training in offering financial assistance as well as in how to train others.
Lucy says the aim is to have around seven of their 20 volunteers trained to offer help both at the centre and through a mobile outreach service where they will take Budget Blitz! information and advice out to the community.