Commonwealth Bank determined to bring financial literacy to one million kids

  • $40 million investment in School Banking
  • Foundation’s StartSmart program to extend to primary schools

Sydney, 19 November 2009:  The Commonwealth Bank has today announced a five year, $40 million investment in its long running school banking program as part of a strengthening commitment to financial literacy in Australia.

The reinvigoration of school banking for primary schools will play a central part in the Group’s determination to improve the financial literacy of more than one million Australian school children over the next five years, under the banner of onemillionkids.

Commonwealth Bank CEO, Ralph Norris, said the Group has been teaching Australian children about money for nearly 80 years.  But the world has changed, and the once simple lessons of personal finance have grown more complex, and the ways children learn has evolved.

“While Australia as a country has navigated reasonably well through the global financial crisis, one of the lessons we have learnt is that everyone needs a good, basic understanding of money management,” Mr Norris said.

“Financial literacy is an important life skill and the earlier kids start learning good savings habits, the better equipped they will become.

“Quite simply, the more children that have access to learning opportunities, the more financially secure our future generations will be,” he said.

Mr Norris said the reinvigoration of school banking is the first in a series of major initiatives targeting young Australians.

“Many Australians across all generations remember fondly their first Commonwealth Bank savings account and the school banking experience.  Now we’re making this program bigger and better than ever, to reach more schools and more students,” he said.

“The program currently encompasses 2,500 schools and more than 90,000 students and over the next five years we aim to have well over 4,000 schools involved and over 300,000 students actively saving,” he said.

The reinvigoration of the Commonwealth Bank’s school banking program will include:

  • $40 million investment over five years.
  • Recruitment of 45 School Liaison Officers across the country to work with branch managers to become more involved with schools in their community and also support those volunteers and primary school staff who run the school banking every week.
  • A series of interactive, practical and fun activities, including savings rewards and online games, new money box designs to add to our traditional tin money boxes, and school visits from savings superheroes, the Dollarmites.
  • Significant technology upgrades including new software and online support that will make school banking easier for school coordinators.

Mr Norris said the Group would also be extending the award-winning StartSmart financial literacy workshops to primary schools from February 2010.  StartSmart is an educational program administered by the Commonwealth Bank Foundation.

“The Foundation’s StartSmart workshops have reached over 100,000 secondary school students since they began in 2007.  In extending these into primary schools next year, we hope to reach another 60,000 primary-age students,” Mr Norris said.

Mr Norris said onemillionkids will be an important platform for the Group to build and link all its activities targeted at young people, whether they are Commonwealth Bank customers or not, under a common goal where kids, parents, teachers and others interested in driving financial literacy in Australia will be able to learn, interact, have fun and contribute.

onemillionkids is the starting point for our determination to support a more financially literate future generation.  It is the commitment that underpins all of our current activities and the foundation from which we will continue to evolve existing programs and develop new initiatives,” Mr Norris said.

onemillionkids has endless potential for building new communities based on learning, interacting and having fun, and delivering far greater reach for these all important financial life skills,” he said.

onemillionkids is designed to do nothing less than educate more than one million Australian school children in financial literacy by 2015.


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Sarah Gibbons

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