Commonwealth Bank Foundation Announces 2006 Youth Financial Literacy Assessment results and New Youth Advisory Council

14 November 2006

The Commonwealth Bank Foundation today announced the results of its nationwide 2006 Australian Financial Literacy Assessment (AFLA) of 50,000 secondary students, and the assembly of an advisory council comprising leading young Australians to help address youth financial literacy issues.

Now in its second year, AFLA is a national assessment conducted by the Commonwealth Bank Foundation through Educational Assessment Australia, part of the University of New South Wales.

Fifty-thousand Year 9 and 10 students from over 500 schools across Australia sat AFLA 2006.

Ralph Norris, CEO of the Commonwealth Bank and Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Foundation said: "The results for AFLA 2006 were quite varied, with students showing acumen in the area of ‘consumer rights’, yet needing some assistance in the areas of ‘personal finances’, and ‘economics and investment’.

"The Foundation recognises that if Australia’s young adults are to survive in a complex and competitive financial world they need financial education programs that will give them one of life’s most important skills – how to manage their money. The Foundation’s aim is to support Australian youth in their quest for these financial and money management skills," added Mr Norris.

AFLA 2006 revealed that despite some 87% of 15 to 17 year olds having mobile phones1 and 14 to 18 year olds being the heaviest users of SMS messaging2, these age groups have difficulty calculating the every-day running costs required of mobile phone ownership:

  • 50% could NOT interpret a table to compare mobile phone plans
  • 49% could NOT calculate savings on the use of SMS messages
  • 46% could NOT identify mobile phone call costs using fine print

On a positive note, AFLA 2006 found that 88% of Year 9 and 10 students could identify when they are entitled to a refund and 75% could identify a security feature for online shopping3.

"Australian youth are relatively savvy consumers, but sometimes lack the financial skills to back up this consumer awareness. This group will soon be entering a stage in their life when they have to earn, save and manage debt, and financial skills will be essential," added Mr Norris.

The AFLA results have prompted the Commonwealth Bank Foundation to bring together leading young Australians to help tackle youth financial literacy.

The Youth Advisory Council comprises young Australians from across the nation who will provide advice and recommendations to the Commonwealth Bank Foundation on how to reach out to young people regarding financial skills.

Ralph Norris said: "We are delighted to welcome the Youth Advisory Council to support the Commonwealth Bank Foundation, and believe their input will guide us in our goal to make a significant difference to the skill development of young Australians by producing financial literacy programs that are relevant and engaging."

Peter Sheahan, co-Chair of the Youth Advisory Council said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for the Commonwealth Bank Foundation to make a real difference to the way young people think about and deal with money. These days, with the prevalence of mobile phones and credit cards, kids are requiring more financial literacy skills at a young age. It’s really important that they be proactive in managing their money sensibly - especially in light of rising consumer debt."

The Youth Advisory Council is made up of the following members:

  • Peter Sheahan, Generation Y expert
  • Khoa Do, film-maker and Young Australian of the Year 2005
  • Hugh Evans, founder of The Oak Tree Foundation and Young Australian of the Year 2006
  • Dion Appel, youth marketing specialist, founder of Lifelounge, and producer of the annual Urban Market Report which tracks youth trends
  • Karen Miles, co-director of The Frank Team, a freelance magazine Editor, author and journalist
  • Jessica Kiely, co-director of The Frank Team and 2005 NSW Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year Finalist

Jahna Cedar, HR advisor with BHP Billiton Iron Ore Company & representative of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Island Commission, UN third preparatory committee for the special session on children

Kathleen Heath, Year 11 student, PLC Pymble College & Delegate to Youth United Nations Model Conference in The Hague

The Commonwealth Bank Foundation is a leader in the area of financial literacy and is continuing to work to tackle the issues that have arisen from AFLA. It is capitalised with a $70 million contribution from the Bank. The income stream from this capital supports the Foundation's activities.


Notes to Editors

Except where stated otherwise, all statistics refer to averages of results for Year 9 and 10 students.

1 Mobile Youth: Market Intelligence 2002.

2 Nielsen eGeneration statistics, March 2006.

3 A security feature appears on Internet pages when making a purchase to indicate the purchase is made in a secure environment.

About AFLA

In 2005 and 2006 the Commonwealth Bank Foundation commissioned the UNSW’s Educational Assessment Australia (EAA) to conduct AFLA. The 2005 assessment represented the first nationwide research undertaken to determine the level of financial literacy of Australian Years 9 and 10 students. Areas tested included managing income and finances, consumer decisions, personal finances, consumer rights, business and technology and economics and investment.

About the Commonwealth Bank Foundation
The Commonwealth Bank has been supporting education for more than 70 years, since the introduction of school banking. In 2003 the Commonwealth Bank Foundation was established to further encourage developments in education, particularly financial literacy. As a key part of the assessment program the Foundation has established an online resource for all schools. The Commonwealth Bank Foundation’s Financial Literacy Curriculum Resource provides teachers with the opportunity to address specific weaknesses and strengths in their students’ learning with tailored teaching tools. This is in addition to the comprehensive education sector programs such as e-Learning Grants for primary students and Financial Literacy Grants for high school students, which the Foundation has put in place in partnership with education groups, authorities and teaching associations across Australia.


Media contacts:

Bryan Fitzgerald
General Manager, Media & Issues Management
Commonwealth Bank
Phone: (02) 9378 2663
Mob: 0414 789 649 Email:

Harriet Forrest / Teneille Rennick
Horizon Communication Group
Phone: (02) 8572 5600
Mob: 0411 779 058 / 0412 584 679
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