A nationwide program to introduce financial literacy education in schools has achieved promising results in its first year as participating students displayed improved confidence in making sound financial choices and managing their financial responsibilities effectively.
The Talk Money curriculum, provided by the non-profit Ecstra Foundation, reached over 105,000 students in more than 500 primary and secondary schools across Australia in 2022, offering in-person and virtual workshops to boost students’ financial decision-making skills.
“We know that financial well-being is aligned to the economic and social goals set out in the government’s new Measuring What Matters national well-being framework,” Ecstra Foundation chief executive Caroline Stewart said.
“However, achieving outcomes across many economic and social indicators may prove difficult if the worsening gap in financial literacy and capability across all age groups in Australia is not addressed.
“Young people aged 15 to 24 fare the worst, with many leaving school without much-needed practical financial decision-making skills as they undertake further study and work, and grapple with the cost-of-living pressures of housing, transport and student debt.
“An important and obvious practical first step is to provide dedicated financial education in schools.”
Following the workshops, 85 per cent of year five and six students said they can now recognise various ways to save, marking a significant 42 per cent improvement from pre-event surveys. In addition, 80 per cent of students in years seven and eight reported knowing the steps to set and save for a savings goal successfully, showing a notable increase of 42 per cent.
The program also endeavours to equip later-stage school students with work-ready knowledge and skills, including managing superannuation and taxes and understanding their rights as they enter the workforce.
“With Australian youth employment rates at a record high, teaching students the financial fundamentals of earning such as calculating and reading payslips, tax, superannuation and understanding their rights at work as they get their first job is absolutely crucial to help them succeed in the workplace,” Stewart noted.
Following the workshops, there were significant improvements in workplace outcomes for year nine and 10 students, with 75 per cent reporting they now know how to handle work administration, such as tax and super, compared to only 34 per cent before attending.
Additionally, 87 per cent of students now understand their rights at work (an 80 per cent increase) and 86 per cent know where to seek information and support about their rights at work (a 92 per cent rise) as a result of attending the workshops.
Participating teachers also showed substantial support for the program, with 91 per cent saying students’ financial knowledge improved after attending the workshops, while 100 per cent found the workshops highly relevant to their students’ lives.
The Talk Money workshops are available as a free service to government, private and independent schools, with the number of participating students expected to double in 2023.