Identification biggest issue for First Nations people

Identifying First Nations people should be top priority for superannuation funds when it comes to helping these members, according to Financial Counselling Australia.

Speaking at the Conference of Major Superannuation Funds of Australia (CMSF), Financial Counselling Australia’s coordinator for financial capability, Lynda Edwards, said this would help funds get in touch with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander support workers to help translate.

Edwards noted that often people thought this kind of identification caused racially vilification this is how First Nations people were identified for health and education purposes for a long time, and actually helped those with English as a second, third, or fourth language.

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“I would like to see funds being proactive in putting these measures in place because it’s about the individual member and what could possibly work with them,” she said.

“If you’re talking to someone and you know they are from a remote community and not speaking English well ask them if they have a support person you can arrange to speak with to do the translation. That would be really helpful.”

Edwards noted that super funds needed to have a standard identification forms for First Nations people across the industry and this would also help financial counsellors and capability workers.

She also said super funds also needed to have an indigenous line that had autonomy.

“The line needs to have people that have the cultural awareness and competency training but also the capacity to make a decision at the first point of call in times of that particular member,” Edwards said.

“I’m sure most funds have reconciliation action plans but they should develop plans that benefit staff by helping them understand how First Nations people work.”

She noted there were financial counsellors that worked in remote communities and super funds could work with the organisation.

“Superannuation cases are very complex and identification is the biggest issue. It takes around six to eight weeks for financial counsellors to assist with super clients. This often takes so much time it takes them away from other opportunities to help people build financial resilience and capabilities,” she said.

“Funds should start to think about registering for the Financial Counselling Register so that when they’re talking with a professional financial counsellor they know it is through an authority that requires them to complete professional development courses to allow them to give advice.”

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