Here's your yearly reminder of some of the incredible impact you’ve helped create in 2023 by being part of the community that's changing finance - for good.
Too often, finance is seen as an industry toiling in service to profit. Success is often measured in monetary terms alone and conversely, anything that doesn't serve to increase a 'return on investment' is devalued or dismissed. We’d like to suggest that, actually, finance is an industry in service to people, and that our success should be measured in the 'growth' of the freedoms, choices and greater wellbeing that we’re able to offer those we work with. That the true return on investment is the opportunity to better nurture and support the people we are in community with.
As you delve into the stories we share this year – stories of people who chose a financial path guided by purpose, and in turn, the changemakers whose important work was supported by that choice - we invite you to hold the notion of community close and to also reflect on your own contribution to this collective story. And that, despite finance’s familiar ‘profit first’ narrative, this community is proof that not only can we change the story - we can rewrite a far better one.
Finance / Hugh + Zoe
- House, built 1968
- 3 bed, 1 bath
- Wiradjuri Country - Orange, NSW
After struggling to find a home that ticked all their boxes in Sydney, Hugh and Zoe swapped the Inner West for the Central West - just in time to welcome a new addition to their family.
For Good / First Nations Foundation
Prior to colonisation, First Nations people were engaged in dynamic, resource-based economies and trade relationships, guided by principles of reciprocity and environmental sustainability. These economies prioritised the wellbeing of the land, its people, and the prosperity of future generations. In stark contrast, invasion brought with it a legacy of dispossession and economic abuse for First Nations people and communities, in the form of unpaid servitude and Stolen Wages - the impacts of which still reverberate today.
While 2023 has been, and continues to be, one of the most economically debilitating years in recent memory, the financial pressures have not been felt equally. As a result of deeply entrenched, systemic exclusion and discrimination, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are experiencing disproportionate levels of financial stress and insecurity. A 2019 report found that not only are First Nations people over-represented among financially vulnerable Australians but they also experience significant barriers (both structural and personal) to accessing financial advice and products. Barriers that can only be addressed with tailored financial literacy education.
Enter: First Nations Foundation.
A charity organisation focused on enabling financial prosperity for Indigenous Australians, First Nations Foundation employs ‘a hybrid method of training sessions, workshops and digital resources to improve Indigenous Australians’ understanding of money management’. This includes their award-winning online financial literacy training program, My Money Dream, and their gender-responsive, culturally safe women's initiative, including the famous Rich Blak Women podcast, led by Larisha Jerome.
- an incredible 891 individuals through their My Money Dream financial literacy program, both online and via face to face workshops;
- saw 8992 unique visitors and 21,185 page visits to the Tomorrow Money platform;
- engaged 239 individuals via monthly webinars and online special events, along with 72 participants that attended in-person Financial Self-Care workshops, as part of the foundation’s Indigenous Women’s Financial Wellness Initiative.
First Nations Foundation CEO, Phil Usher, says it best:
“What most people don’t understand is that it’s not about just telling Aboriginal people the basics of money management. It’s about having the yarn on how we perceive money and how we can use it to help our family and communities… Understanding the Indigenous perception of money and family responsibilities can only be gained through lived experiences. All our training and content is written and delivered by Mob, for Mob.”
We were so excited to be able to support First Nations Foundation this year and if you’re also looking to invest in the financial wellbeing and autonomy of First Nations people before the year is out, you can make a donation here. Additionally, you can sign up to the mailing list (also recommended) or join the community via the following socials: @firstnationsfoundation + @richblakwomen
Plus! For some impactful holiday listening, you cannot go past the Rich Blak Women podcast - now in its second season! Listen here.
Finance / Jo
- Apartment, built 1983
- 2 bed, 1 bath, 1 car
- Wallumedegal Land, Darug Nation - Eastwood, NSW
After spending her entire life living at home with family, Jo was eager to find her independence. By searching a little further afield, she found herself the perfect place and secured the keys - all on her own.
For Good / Surfers for Climate
Another organisation that knows about mobilising the people in your community is Surfers for Climate. As one of the organisations we supported ‘For the Earth’ this year, Surfers for Climate have a long history of effective environmental advocacy, with their most recent work focused on educating the community on the potential return of the dreaded PEP-11.
Granted by governments for oil and gas exploration, PEP-11 is a controversial Petroleum Exploration Permit licence covering 4,500sq/km of ocean from Manly to Newcastle, with some sites just 5.5km from the shore. The risk of allowing PEP-11, and other ventures like it, is that fossil fuel companies will be given the green light to drill into our precious ocean beds, potentially leading to devastating oil spills, gas leaks and severe damage to our coastlines. The project has the potential to disrupt not only one of the world’s largest whale migration paths and dolphin habitat, but the livelihoods and lifestyles of millions of ocean-loving Australians.
As a fossil fuel, gas causes 84x more climate damage than CO2 and allowing PEP-11 to go ahead will set a dangerous precedent for Australia - allowing fossil fuel industrialisation just offshore of our iconic beaches, while also locking in decades of additional pollution at a time when we need to dramatically and urgently reduce emissions. More recently, the NSW Parliament was considering ground-breaking legislation that would have made it the first state in the country to ban all new offshore oil and gas exploration. Unfortunately, even after an incredible advocacy campaign led by the Surfers for Climate community, the Environment and Planning Committee has recommended that the bill (which would have banned PEP-11 for good) be blocked. There’s still a chance to have your say, by emailing your local MP via this handy template and urging them to back the bill once it is tabled in parliament.
Surfers for Climate were also winners in this year’s TMRRW Awards with their ‘Wavechanger’ program. The creation of a majority of surfing products, like surfboards and wetsuits, currently relies on the use of polluting petrochemicals, with this process barely changing since the 1950s. Through their Wavechanger program, Surfers for Climate are engaging in a range of innovative research projects and collaborations, designed to encourage and guide more sustainable science and product developments in the surfing community and prove that a waste-free surf industry is possible, without having to compromise on high performance.
If you’d like to get involved with Surfers for Climate, or support their important work, you can become a member here or make a donation here. You can also check out their annual surfing industry review here and do some reading on their blog here. A personal favourite of ours is their ‘Wipe Out your Emissions’ guide. If you prefer podcasts, you can listen, and learn, here and don’t forget to joining the instagram community via @surfersforclimate
Finance / Leigh + Georgie
- House, built 1920s
- 3 bed, 3 bath
- Bidjigal Land - Arncliffe, NSW
With plans to grow their family, Leigh and Georgie were looking for a bigger space to call home and an ethical, purpose-driven finance company to help make it happen.
For Good / First Nations Futures
Launching in only August of this year, First Nations Futures is a relatively young organisation, with a purpose grounded in over 65,000 years of continuous culture, knowledge and values.
First Nations led and driven, First Nations Futures is driving an agenda of economic justice by calling in the shared responsibility of all Australians to collectively invest in First Nations-led solutions. Existing in stark contrast to traditional funding systems that have the capacity to further systemic inequalities, the First Nations Futures funding platform supports the delivery of unrestricted, long-term and culturally safe funding to a growing network of grassroots, First Nations community-driven initiatives - better enabling them to self-determine their own futures, on their terms, on their lands.
In the organisation's own words, their journey so far “has been slow, intentional, and has included many yarns and workshops with First Nations leaders and young people along the way.” Those conversations kept returning to the exploration of co-designing a funding mechanism, one that could aid First Nations self-determination through unrestricted funding and facilitate long-term wealth redistribution. The team also spent a year creating their own extensive, values-based Impact framework, through a series of workshops with First Nations Elders, community leaders and young people. The framework offers a way for First Nations Futures and its partners to tell their stories of impact across four cultural domains: Relationality, Reciprocity, Restructure and Regeneration, with Country remaining at the core.
First Nations Futures have just launched their ‘Tis The Season For Solidarity’ holiday campaign, calling on us all to redefine gifting and extend care to First Nations and Palestinian people this holiday season. Instead of a traditional gift, you can make a donation to First Nations Futures and give the gift of solidarity to your loved ones - helping you to both drive change for community and Country.
“To act in solidarity is to make a concerted and ongoing effort to deeply listen, engage in direct action, and mutually support communities that are affected by colonial and oppressive systems.”
- First Nations Futures
Finance / Lucinda + Tom
- Townhouse, built 2000
- 2 bed, 1.5 bath, 1 car
- Gadigal Land - Alexandria, NSW
After falling in love with Alexandria as renters, Lucinda and Tom never imagined they’d be able to buy their first home in the same suburb - let alone on the same street.
For Good / Bendigo Sustainability Group
Like Lucinda and Tom, many of us dream of installing solar panels to help make the much needed switch to renewable energy (with the added bonus of reducing our electricity bills in the process). And while it’s no longer as costly as it was a decade or two ago, in the cost of living crisis we’re currently in, making the switch can still be unattainable, despite the many benefits.
Another of the environmentally-focused organisations we supported in 2023 is Bendigo Sustainability Group (BSG). As a local not-for-profit community group in the Bendigo region of Victoria, BSG are interested in all aspects of sustainability and how to make a difference at a community level. We donated specifically to their ‘Giving Power’ fundraiser, a crowd-funding campaign designed to provide fully funded and installed solar powered energy systems to low-income families in the region, who are being disproportionately affected by rising energy costs.
When they meet their funding goal, Bendigo Sustainability Group will be able to purchase and install solar systems for approximately 30 low income homes and following on from that success, will look to expand this small-scale pilot project as far as possible. While 17 homeowners now have solar, there are still 13 installations underway. Approximately 40,000 homeowners, or 29%, in this greater region are considered ‘low or very low’ income households, with 4,000 or 3% of those households currently experiencing mortgage stress. The very real people this project is helping include Margaret, a pensioner helping to look after her grandchildren, whose entire home is electric and needs to ‘put a blanket on’ to keep warm in winter, thanks to shocking power bills.
By the end of 2023, they are just shy of their goal by around $8,500. If the program resonates with you and you’re able to lend a hand, any donation amount will help get them closer to achieving their goal, proving that the program is effective and can be replicated by communities all over Australia. It’s a brilliant example of how we can both support each other and those disproportionately affected, with the added bonus of helping the planet.
Once again, we were incredibly grateful to have been part of so many important milestones for our community members this year. And in doing so, be in a position to support some truly inspirational organisations that are working tirelessly to make the world a better place - for all of us.