StartSmart set to create savvy consumers

25 May 2007

Commonwealth Bank Foundation builds youth financial literacy

The Commonwealth Bank Foundation will accelerate its mission to improve youth financial literacy with the launch of a national program of StartSmart Forums – a fresh and engaging way for teenagers to learn about money management.

StartSmart uses fun and engaging facilitators to run theatrical sessions, workshops and gameshows which educate young people about how to be smarter with money. Thousands of young Aussies between the ages of 16 and 20 from metropolitan and regional areas will participate in the program across Australia. The sessions will cover topics like bank accounts, investing, credit cards, personal loans, managing debt, income, super and tax.

StartSmart Forums have been developed in direct response to the 2006 Australian Financial Literacy Assessment (AFLA) which revealed insights into the financial skills of 50,000 young Australians in years 9 and 10.

There were several positive findings that were identified through AFLA, including:

  • 90% of students could identify the running cost of a car
  • 97% could locate the expiry date on a credit card

However, AFLA also 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

The content of the StartSmart workshops has been developed in conjunction with leaders in youth education, including Generation Y expert and the Commonwealth Bank’s Youth Advisory Council Chair, Peter Sheahan.

Peter Sheahan said today, "We know that young people respond best to learning when they are enjoying themselves. Many young people hear the phrase ‘money management’ or ‘financial management’ and switch off as they don’t think it’s relevant to them.

"StartSmart is a way to make these essential life skills relevant to youth and the interactive format will ensure they remember the lessons of the day."

Barbara Chapman, Group Executive, HR & Group Services at the Commonwealth Bank and Board Member of the Commonwealth Bank Foundation believes that this format will truly connect with young Australians. "We have been overwhelmed with registrations for the workshops, which demonstrates the need for the events. We are looking forward to building a generation of Australians who are financially savvy."

StartSmart forums are travelling to all capital cities in Australia. In addition, StartSmart workshops are visiting 25 regional areas.

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.

About StartSmart

The Commonwealth Bank Foundation offers a wide range of workshops for 16 to 20 year olds, including StartSmart Workshops in regional Australia and the StartSmart Forums in all capital cities.

The StartSmart Teacher Development Workshops are designed to develop the confidence and skills of teachers who teach financial literacy, and will be offered in each capital city in 2007.

The StartSmart Schools Program is offered in secondary schools and features interactive lessons delivered by a professional facilitator with the assistance of trained Commonwealth Bank staff. Schools can choose from four modules – Earning an Income, Bank Accounts, Managing your Money and Investing.

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.

Media contacts:

Steve Batten
Media Adviser
Commonwealth Bank
Phone: (02) 9378 2504
Mob: 0411 080 268

Teneille Rennick / Cathy Ewart
Horizon Communication Group
Phone: (02) 8572 5617 or 02 8572 5600
Mob: 0412 584 679 / 0412 005 584
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