Jewish Care on managing money for basics

June 10, 2010 by Jonny Ucko
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Victoria’s Jewish Care to help those who have difficulty with home finances.

Australia’s first financial education and matched savings program, Saver Plus, has received $13.5 million in funding as part of a Federal Government initiative to build financial capability and resilience in the community.  The funding boost will enable the program to reach an additional 7,600 people on low incomes by 2011, including 120 families in the Port Phillip, Glen Eira and Kingston local government areas.

Saver Plus is a 10-month program developed by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and ANZ in 2002, which assists people on lower incomes to save for education costs, offering budgeting skills workshops and matching savings dollar for dollar, up to $500 per individual.

Saver Plus is delivered by Jewish Care and is open to anyone living in the Port Phillip, Glen Eira and Kingston areas who has a health care or pension card, some form of regular income from employment, children enrolled in school or who are attending or returning to vocational education themselves.

“Jewish Care is proud to be working closely with our community partners to build better financial capability and resilience in the community,” said Bill Appleby, CEO of Jewish Care. “With our first 20 participants having reached their savings goal in the first quarter of 2010, Jewish Care’s Saver Plus site has progressed rapidly.”

Mr Appleby said that many families find it difficult to afford school costs.

“Basic school needs such as uniforms, books, shoes and bags can cost hundreds of dollars for a single child and increase significantly when extra-curricular activities such as excursions, camps and cooking, woodwork and textile classes are included,” he continued.

Michael Danby

“Saver Plus prepares families by encouraging them to save small amounts of money throughout the year using simple techniques such as budgets, spending diaries and prompting people to consider ‘needs’ versus ‘wants’.”

Participants set an education-related savings goal and receive financial education and personal coaching to assist them to reach their goal over 10 months.  As an incentive to save, ANZ matches participants’ savings dollar for dollar, up to $500.

Michael Danby MP, Federal Member for Melbourne Ports, welcomed the expansion of Saver Plus.  “I’m very pleased to hear about the expansion of the Saver Plus program. Saver Plus directly targets people traditionally excluded from mainstream banking, including women and sole parents on low-incomes. Its success in helping families to chart a path to greater financial security speaks for itself.”

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