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Thursday, 1 November 2012
Page: 13034

Ms COLLINS (FranklinMinister for Community Services, Minister for the Status of Women and Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development) (09:39): I want to talk about a visit to my local primary school, Rokeby Primary School, in my electorate during MoneySmart Week in September of this year. For many people MoneySmart Week is a week when we have a close look at our everyday expenses and learn about simple steps which can make a big difference to finances. My visit to this school also gave me the chance to hear about some of the work the Smith Family is doing in and around Hobart and its suburbs, particularly through the Saver Plus program. For those people that do not know, the Saver Plus program is run by the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the ANZ and of course the federal government. It offers eligible people a chance to meet their savings goal. So if they manage to save $500, it will be matched through this scheme. It allows them—for eligible purchases—to be able to assist with some of the costs, for instance, of a particular holiday or a laptop for their child to go to school. It is a really great program. The important thing is that their priorities are their own in terms of what they save for. It was a great time for mums, dads and the kids to actually talk about what are the priorities. They had mums and dads there running workshops as well.

I had the opportunity to play some games—financial literacy games—with the students and of course talk to the students about how many of them are saving and what are they saving for. It was a great day indeed. They responded with things about saving for a family holiday, saving for an electronic game—of course, that was very popular—but it goes to show that children in our schools right across the country and out and about in my electorate are aware of the importance of saving for important things.

The Saver Plus scheme for their parents is also a good way in which we can help them achieve their savings goals. We offer a range of services. The Smith Family offers—funded also by the government—emergency relief, financial counselling and money management, and also the no-interest loan scheme by Good Shepherd Microfinance, which the government funds with the National Australia Bank. It is also an important scheme to help low-income earners, and those loans are an average $800 to $1,200. The government is funding a range of programs to help vulnerable and low-income Australians, and MoneySmart Week was a great opportunity to actually highlight some of those.

I particularly want to thank Verity and Alison from the Smith Family for running the games and the workshops on the day in MoneySmart Week, particularly for the work they do right across the state of Tasmania with their Saver Plus program, working together with the ANZ Bank. I also want to thank Tracey Johnston, the principal of Rokeby Primary School, for hosting us that day, and to the wonderful students that were able to play the games and talk about some of the important decisions that they are making every day about their finances and to give them an understanding of the decisions that their parents make.