Transurban: Strengthening communities through transport
We recently caught up with Jane Calvert, Customer and Communities Advocate at Transurban to reflect on their incredible journey since launching the Foundation FIAP and completing the Progress Verification* with EY. Here are some highlights of our conversation:
Congratulations on recently completing the Progress Verification with EY and your Foundation FIAP. What has been a highlight of the past 12+ months?
Undoubtedly, I am most proud of Transurban’s response to COVID-19. Our toll credit program which launched in April, has now provided $9.5 million worth of free travel to over 40,000 people most impacted by the challenges of 2020.
Based on the success of the program and the recognition that social and financial vulnerability is a long-term issue, we have also recently announced that toll credits are here to stay, to help cover essential travel for those experiencing hardship due to a range of issues. These might include having to take children or parents to hospital for medical treatment, family violence issues or mental health challenges, to name a few.
Our long-term response has also included entering into two significant partnerships to ensure our most vulnerable Linkt Assist customers get the holistic support they need now and into the future.
One is a partnership with Good Shepherd to deliver Linkt Assist 360, a program to provide wrap around welfare support to those customers experiencing a range of complex issues.
The other is working with The Thriving Communities Partnership and a number of other corporate and community sector partners, to seed fund and co-design the One Stop One Story Hub, an Australian-first digital platform which will allow people to connect with the extensive support they are eligible for across a range of services and sectors.
What have you learnt about financial inclusion, resilience and wellbeing along the journey?
I think the past year has really helped our business at large recognise that anyone can experience vulnerability, and it can happen at any time. I think the challenges and conversations of the past year around how we as a business can respond have also helped us to more fully appreciate the role the business sector can and should play in contributing to enhancing financial inclusion and resilience. There is a much wider appreciation of our role in the ecosystem, and the opportunity we have to act at a critical point in a customer’s journey, and to work with the community sector, other corporate partners and government stakeholders, to ensure we all step up and play our role to hopefully prevent anyone from slipping through the cracks, and in doing so, ultimately restore their social and financial wellbeing.
Can you tell me the story of one person that you were able to have an impact on through your FIAP actions?
We recently had a customer who had used our toll roads to escape a family violence situation several times over the past few months. ‘Marie’ wasn’t able to work and had no permanent safe place to stay. She was incredibly shaken on the phone call into our Linkt Assist team and revealed enough information for the team to identify she needed more help, beyond her tolling debt.
After approving Marie for toll credits to cover off her existing debt and bring her account back into credit, they talked to Marie about Linkt Assist 360 and referred her through to Good Shepherd for further community welfare support.
Marie rang back a few days later to say it was amazing that she didn’t have to provide paperwork to prove her situation as she was exhausted explaining it over and over again, and it was such a relief to speak with an organisation that actually cared and went beyond their role. She advised Good Shepherd were fantastic – they put her in touch with a support worker in her local area that has already been assisting her in with finding her accommodation and food vouchers.
What would you like other organisations to learn from Transurban's approach?
That it is never too late to start advocating for or embarking on a journey to become a more financially inclusive organisation. When we first joined the FIAP and Thriving Communities Partnership networks, I had moments of feeling like such a new kid on the block. But really tapping into these networks and drawing on the learnings of what other organisations had done before us, all proved so helpful in helping to build the case for us to invest in some major initiatives to improve our approach to financial inclusion for all our critical stakeholders. Had this background work not been done, there is no way we would have been able to respond to the challenges of 2020 is such a quick, robust and effective way.
You can learn more about Transurban's achievements and an update on their FIAP here: https://www.transurban.com/news/fiap-achievements
* The term ‘verification’ is used in the FIAP program to provide a level of assessment and consistency over the FIAP process and outcomes and does not refer to any conclusion or opinion being expressed in accordance with Australian Auditing Standards.
CUA Launches Foundation FIAP
Australia’s largest member-owned banking organisation, CUA, has today released its Financial Inclusion Action Plan (FIAP), supported by more than $1 million in community investment to address vulnerability.
The FIAP includes a continued focus on issues that contribute to financial stress, some of which have been potentially exacerbated by COVID-19:
- Helping Australians overcome barriers to home ownership. CUA will do this by partnering with government and the private sector through the National Affordable Housing Consortium’s BuyAssist shared equity initiative and the Australian Government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme.
- Lifting digital and financial capability in an online world through CUA’s Connected Future partnership with the Australian Red Cross and social enterprise Infoxchange.
- Helping members experiencing family violence, while extending support to community initiatives with Micah Projects in Brisbane and WIRE in Victoria to address financial abuse.
CUA CEO Paul Lewis said CUA’s commitments under the FIAP reinforce the mutual’s heritage of providing access to fair and affordable finance, and helping Australians improve their financial wellbeing.
“It’s part of our DNA. We know that by working with organisations like these we can support vulnerable Australians to build their financial capability and ultimately, give them the means to build a better financial future for themselves and their families,” he said.
CUA's FIAP is available at https://www.cua.com.au/about-us/cua-community/our-financial-inclusion-action-plan
The Salvation Army on a mission to improve the financial wellbeing of its people
The Salvation Army (TSA), in partnership with ANZ, conducted the Survey of Financial Inclusion and Access (SoFIA) for their female staff and volunteers in late 2019.
The results show a higher financial wellbeing score of the Salvation Army respondents in comparison to the general population. It is wonderful to see that many TSA women are confident managing their money and have low levels of debt, but at the same time the survey revealed that nearly 10 per cent of the respondents were struggling with paying everyday expenses and had no savings.
The Salvation Army is responding to the survey results by expanding the Salvos Central portal information to include more about superannuation, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefits, links to Moneycare and its financial capability resources. They also plan to train managers to increase their awareness of financial hardship as well as embed financial capability resources in the onboarding program for new employees.
QBE launches their FIAP to support vulnerable customers and communities
Vivek Bhatia, Chief Executive Officer at QBE Australia Pacific said that the launch of the FIAP was particularly timely amidst the health and economic crisis triggered by COVID-19. “We know that many Australians are doing it tough right now. The drought, the bushfires and now the COVID-19 crisis have created significant hardship for many in our community, and it’s more important than ever that we work together to support those in need in our society and build resilience and financial inclusion for the future.”
Key commitments in QBE’s plan include a customer-focused approach to designing products and services which are simple and easily accessible by the whole community. QBE will also strengthen the ability of their employees to better identify and support customers experiencing vulnerability by setting up critical referral pathways. Another important aspect will be reinforcing their commitment to an inclusive workplace by supporting employees experiencing family violence and mental health issues through first responder networks.
Community of Practice discusses COVID-19 responses
Thank you to everyone who joined us last week for the June Community of Practice and follow up discussion. It was great to see so many faces again! We are grateful to our guest speakers for their insightful presentations and sparking important conversation.
We were joined by the following speakers who shared updates on how their organisation have responded to the demands of stakeholders during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Tamie McNiece (IAG - Principal, Financial Inclusion Action Plan)
- Lisa Aitkens (WorkSafe Victoria - Wellbeing Advisor)
- Jane Calvert (Transurban - Customer & Communities Advocate)
- Megan McAlpine (Good Shepherd - General Manager Economic Wellbeing and Enterprises)
New FIAP team members
We are happy to introduce two new members to the FIAP team.
Jeremy Levine is the General Manager of Service and Strategy Impact at Good Shepherd ANZ and has executive leadership of the FIAP program, alongside policy, research, advisory services and strategic projects. Jeremy has been with Good Shepherd for the past two years, following senior roles in government and management consulting.
Heather Saunders joined the team in March as Head of the Financial Inclusion Action Plan program (FIAP). Heather will work closely with Jeremy to drive the FIAP strategy and oversee the operational execution of the program.
Heather has just returned after seven years in the United States where her last role was as the Chief Development Officer at Juma Ventures, a social enterprise focused on breaking the cycle of poverty for youth across America. She is excited to reconnect with the financial inclusion community in Australia having previously held roles at the Brotherhood of St Laurence and First Nations Foundation helping to design, implement, and drive strategic financial capability initiatives such as MoneyMinded and My Moola
New action plan to tackle financial hardship in Geelong
In an Australian first, ten businesses and organisations have banded together to launch a city-wide plan to combat growing financial hardship. With around 40,000 thousand Geelong residents living on low incomes and many unable to access regular banking or financial services, the group of businesses, government, academia and community organisations has committed to a ‘city-specific’ plan to tackle the issue.
So far, the Geelong group have co-designed and committed to forty practical actions including workshops to enhance financial capability and a referral program for customers experiencing financial hardship. The Financial Inclusion Action Plan (FIAP) Program, led by Good Shepherd, provides a platform for cross-sector action to promote financial inclusion and resilience.
Good Shepherd CEO Stella Avramopoulos said financial exclusion was a growing problem in many regional communities. “One in four Geelong households lives on low incomes, 10 per cent find it hard to pay the rent and nearly seven per cent of residents are unemployed,” Ms Avramopoulos said.
“Most people on low incomes can’t access normal banking and financial services, which can have a terrible effect on your health and future prospects. It is fantastic that these Geelong organisations are keen to work together to reduce financial stress at work and at home.”
WorkSafe Victoria Director, Health, Safety and Wellbeing Kristine Gatt said many people, particularly women, found it hard to talk about their financial situation, let alone ask for help. “WorkSafe Victoria has joined the FIAP program because we want our employees to have the skills and confidence to create a stable future for themselves and their families,” Ms Gatt said.
The Geelong FIAP pilot program has been funded by the philanthropic Helen Macpherson Smith Trust. “This initiative is a wonderful example of how organisations can pool their collective talents to create a more resilient and empowered community,” Trust CEO Lin Bender said.
IAG launches its FIAP
IAG released its Financial Inclusion Action Plan (FIAP) on 14 March 2020. Peter Harmer, IAG Managing Director and CEO, is excited to have committed to the plan. "Our purpose inspires us to explore all the ways we can make our customers, our people and our communities safer - insurance plays a critical role in providing financial security and protection”.
A notable commitment in IAG’s plan is to address structural and systemic barriers for those at risk of financial exclusion, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The indigenous engagement strategy will complement IAG’s Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which looks to provide employment and development opportunities as well as addressing social and economic challenges faced by the indigenous community. IAG will look to diversify its supply chain, with a focus on female-owned, social enterprises and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander owned suppliers.;
To learn more: https://www.iag.com.au/financial-inclusion-action-plan