When it comes to life skills, financial literacy is often overlooked. From reading a pay check, to understanding supers and learning how credit cards and mortgages work, as many as 20% of 15-year-olds in Australia do not have basic financial literacy skills, according to OECD research published last year.
However, with strong links to mental health and overall wellbeing, it’s one of the most important skills a high-school student can learn.
AFL star Alex Rance is no stranger to the issue, having launched his own financial literacy scheme in Melbourne in 2016. Now, he is lending his support to another initiative, spearheaded by one of Australia’s top brokers.
Rance has been named official ambassador of the School Entrepreneurs program, a joint initiative established by Astute Ability Group and supported by MFAA. The program empowers high-school aged students to run a real start-up business as part of their commerce or economics class, with brokers delivering the lessons on a volunteer basis.
Led by Astute Ability Group founder and principal Mhairi MacLeod, the initiative is now in its third year and has supported dozens of young people to take their first steps towards becoming financially literate adults.
Speaking about the new ambassador, MacLeod said, “I was looking for somebody to help promote the importance of getting out into the community, not only as a broker but to raise community awareness around financial literacy for high school students.
“Alex will be an advocate for our program and it’s a great alignment with his own work outside of AFL. He couldn’t jump on board quick enough and thought the program was amazing. He is a big advocate of the link between mental health and financial wellbeing so he is a great pick for us,” she added.
Brokers across Australia can get involved with School Entrepreneurs by donating their time to deliver six, one-hour modules to high-school aged children in their local community. Topics covered in the course include how to read a pay slip; setting up a business; developing business plans; product development; marketing strategies; human resources; and strategies for profit, loss and future business direction.
Each participating broker receives 12 CPD hours for their support of the project.
In an interview with MacLeod, Rance said, “When you look at life in general… it’s pretty scary. You have to have credit cards potentially, a home loan or rent to pay, you’ve got food, petrol, you want to catch up with your mates for a beer. All these things you take for granted when you’re young because your parents pay or you have pocket money and no other bills are attached to that pocket money.
“Having these life skills, especially around money management, can take away some of the anxiety around being an adult. When you think about mental health going forward, in five years’ time it’s going to be the largest health risk in Australia and probably throughout the world. So if you can minimise the anxiety and stress that is associated with finance, it’s going to make the world a far better place,” he added.
MacLeod, who has taken time out of her own business and family life to establish and build the program, said, “The reaction so far has been phenomenal. The kids love the idea that there are real people and real sporting heroes out there who really care about what young adults want to achieve, and we have already achieved some fabulous results.
“We have high school students well on the way to becoming much more self-sufficient and confident as they enter the work force. They are able to manage their money and move forwards into adulthood knowing that they need to check payslips, knowing that they are entitled to super and what to look for. It’s life skills as well.”
She continued, “There are many brokers who donate money to charity, but the hardest thing is getting people to donate their time. The kids really appreciate the time you spend with them and I would love to see more brokers consider spending some time in their community. With the right skills and assistance to improve their financial literacy, these students can achieve whatever they want.”
Brokers across Australia can sign up to the School Entrepreneurs initiative – and earn 12 CDP hours. For more information, visit https://www.mfaa.com.au/education-events/community/school-entrepreneurs-program Or contact Mhairi and MFAA, via: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
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