Gunnedah teenagers reap the rewards of financial literacy program

2 min read

Gunnedah teenagers reap the rewards of financial literacy program

Gunnedah teenagers reap the rewards of financial literacy program

SSE was fortunate to have the opportunity to deliver one of its foundational programs, Invest In Yourself: Exploring Money & Self Employment, recently to a group of 20 Aboriginal high school students from Gunnedah in north-eastern NSW. 

The students, from Gunnedah High School and nearby St Mary’s College, came together at the Gunida Gunyah Aboriginal Corporation headquarters for the two-day program, co-delivered by SSE and First Nations entrepreneur and cultural mentor, Kayleb Waters-Sampson, and funded by the Department of Regional NSW (DRNSW).

Personal financial literacy and entrepreneurship are historically not areas school children gain a great deal of exposure to. Invest in Yourself is designed to introduce participants in engaging, practical ways to concepts including: money mindset and financial independence; bolstering income through freelancing, entrepreneurship, or remote work; practical techniques to become more financially independent; and identifying workforce trends and the skillsets required to thrive in the future economy.  

Hollie Crawford from DRNSW emphasised how beneficial a program like this is for young people in Gunnedah. “Access to information and the opportunity to learn financial literacy, and to have a safe space like this in which to learn and experiment, is really important,” she said. 

“I really believe it will create opportunities for these young people here. They’ve been empowered to open up meaningful conversations [around business and finance matters] and to feel more confident in creating connections within our business, as well as our wider, community.  

“They’re already keen to start to look for ideas to create businesses!” 

Kayleb agreed, reflecting that “everyone was really engaged, thinking and planning. You could see their minds running wild with the possibilities, especially after hearing the real stories of real people with real businesses, being able to connect with them. And not just hearing success stories, but the struggles of starting a business and everything that goes with that.” 

Participants’ positive self-assessment on completion of the program was evident, too: 

  • 87% indicated that they had achieved a very good to excellent understanding of basic finance and were able to set financial goals, up from 12% at the start of the program 
  • 100% considered they had a good to excellent understanding of taxes, superannuation and credit, up from 10% at the start 
  • 66% of respondents identified themselves as acquiring a very good to excellent knowledge of entrepreneurship and how to start a business, up from 0% at the start. 

One St Mary’s College student, Lilly, was excited to share that “I now have a greater and deeper understanding about what job I would like in the future. I’ve definitely stepped up my standards. It’s given me a future plan,” adding “I've learned a lot about myself, especially around communicating with other people (that I'm pretty good at it!) and that it's okay to get out there and make a difference.” 

Would she recommend the program? “Oh, 100%! A lot of students worry about their future, so this [experience] has been a great opportunity to get out of our comfort zone and learn some important life skills that we can take with us into the future.” 

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