The funding, from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs includes $13.5 million to expand the Saver Plus program. Saver Plus is a matched savings and financial literacy program for people on low incomes, which is currently delivered from 20 locations across Australia.
The funding will more than double the program’s reach by making it available from more than 50 sites, assisting an additional 7,600 people by 2011. Brotherhood of St Laurence Executive Director, Tony Nicholson, said: “Assisting people to develop a savings habit, to build assets and to improve their financial well-being has powerful impacts for communities by reducing social and economic disadvantage.
“More than 5,000 people have already joined the program and with the Government’s generous support we can assist in reducing financial exclusion across many more Australian communities,” Mr Nicholson said. ANZ Chief Executive Officer, Mike Smith, said: “This is an exciting development to assist people on low incomes by encouraging them to save and build a better life. “Since ANZ and the Brotherhood first piloted Saver Plus in 2003, we have worked with a number of other community partners to bring the program to thousands of Australians.
It’s great to see the value of their work and the positive impact it has had on so many individuals and families recognised through this important Government initiative. "Saver Plus is part of our Corporate Responsibility strategy to create pathways to individual prosperity for disadvantaged communities, and together with our community partners I’m very pleased to see Government participation in the program,” Mr Smith said. Recent RMIT research1 found that Saver Plus is highly effective at building financial literacy skills and establishing a savings habit with people on low-incomes.
RMIT also found the education experiences of participants and their families improved because they spend their matched savings on educational items, with the most commonly purchased items including computers, school uniforms, textbooks, music and sport. Saver Plus has already assisted more than 5,000 people to save more than $4 million, with matched savings provided by ANZ of $4 million.
As part of the Federal Government funding an additional $1 million would be provided to pilot different delivery models of the small loans program Progress Loans, to improve the sustainability of the program. “The Brotherhood of St Laurence also looks forward to working with ANZ to expand Progress Loans, a program designed to meet the needs of people who don’t qualify for loans with mainstream lenders,” Mr Nicholson said.