Australian Consumers and Money:
Helping People to Manage their Money Better
After looking at both the Australian and international experience of educating and empowering consumers about financial literacy, the National Consumer and Financial Literacy Taskforce today released its discussion paper.
The Taskforce was appointed in February by the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer, Senator Helen Coonan, to develop the first-ever national strategy for consumer and financial literacy.
The Taskforce found that consumers need guidance to find different information as they entered new financial phases in their lives.
“Consumers experience many difficulties with financial issues as they move through each stage of their lives. The journey from the first few cents of pocket money, teenage years, adult life through to retirement are littered with traps,” Taskforce Chairman Paul Clitheroe said.
“Overspending, over borrowing, under-insuring, scams, schemes and the complexity of financial products and processes need to be avoided, understood or overcome to achieve financial success.
“The Taskforce found more than 700 consumer information initiatives are currently being produced by public, private and community sector bodies in Australia, leaving consumers feeling confused.
“Australia also lacks a formal network for information providers to communicate with each other, resulting in duplication and inefficiencies in the provision of information to consumers.”
The Taskforce developed a Consumer Behaviour Model to better understand the problems that exist for consumers and has suggested the formation of a coordinating body to help streamline information provision and connect information providers with consumers.
“The stakes for a national strategy for consumer and financial literacy are high. Success will mean creating more wealth, fewer rip-offs, lower levels of bankruptcy, less bad debts for financial institutions and a greater take-up of superannuation and quality investment products,” Mr Clitheroe said.
The Taskforce will now embark on a national community consultation roadshow, with stakeholders and consumers invited to public meetings to share their own personal money stories and receive a briefing on the Discussion Paper.
Copies of the Taskforce’s discussion paper are available at cfltaskforce.treasury.gov.au and public submissions are welcomed.
11 June 2004