Commonwealth Bank Sustainability Reporting 2016

Build Capability

Invest in education and skills,
now and for the future

Our commitment to education is aligned to our vision to excel at securing and enhancing the financial wellbeing of people, businesses and communities. We believe that building the financial capability of students, recognising and supporting excellence in education and investing in evidence-based education research is an important way to deliver economic benefits at scale.

Our programs and initiatives build on our strong track record for providing quality financial education programs across Australia, to date more than 1.9 million children have enrolled in our Start Smart program. In addition, our 85 year old School Banking program continues to provide opportunities for students to directly learn the value of savings.

We know that education outcomes have a profound effect on personal success, economic growth, improved health and social engagement. Importantly too, education is an enabler for financial wellbeing. That's why we have made a 25 year commitment to investing in education, starting with a $50 million commitment over 3 years.

"To take advantage of all that we have in Australia, we are going to need to invest in the skills of the future."

-Ian Narev, Commonwealth Bank Chief Executive Officer

Enhancing financial literacy of young Australians

In 2009 we committed to improving the financial literacy of one million kids by 2015. We exceeded that goal in 2015 and set an ambitious goal to double the reach of Start Smart by 2016, which we achieved in June with more than 550,000 student bookings for the free financial literacy workshops.

More than 1.9 million Australian students have taken part in a Start Smart workshop since 2009, making Start Smart the world’s largest face-to-face financial education program.

In the 2016 financial year we developed four new workshops and recruited 22 new facilitators. Three new workshops have been developed for Primary schools so that there is now an age-appropriate, curriculum-mapped workshop for every year group, years 1 through 6. There is also a new workshop for Years 7 and 8 students in the Secondary program. We also launched two small business workshops aimed at third-year apprentices in Start Smart Pathways for vocational education students.

Images of faces made out of arts and crafts supplies along with stats related to Commonwealth Bank's Start Smart program

To learn more about our award winning Start Smart program visit:

Image of an educator standing in front of a white board representing Commonwealth Bank of Australia Start Smart financial education program

More than 550,000 students accessed free financial education Start Smart

Image of a pie chart showing the number of students by type (primary, secondary and vocational) enrolling in Commonwealth Bank's Start Smart program

Plumbing students at Holmesglen Chadstone TAFE in Melbourne learn practical money skills with Start Smart facilitator Shane Cliff.

Image of a piggy bank representing Commonwealth Bank of Australia's School Banking program

More than 330,000 students participated in our School Banking program

School Banking

School Banking provides schools with the opportunity to introduce their students to the concept of regular saving by providing them with a no-fee bank account and workshops teaching them how to save.

The Group's School Banking Program has been running for 85 years throughout Australia since 1931 and gives primary schools an easy, fun and interactive way for children to develop a basic understanding of core financial values and money management skills. Through the program, children can bank at school, giving them a hands-on banking experience in an interactive environment.

During the 2016 financial year, participation grew to 330,874 students at 3,917 schools.

To make depositing money at school each week even more exciting, children can participate in our Rewards Program, which recognises good savings behaviour and makes savings fun. The rewards program enables schools to earn commission that can be used for computers, books, sporting equipment or anything else the school may need. During the 2016 financial more than $2.4 million in commission was paid to Australian primary schools.

Commitment to targeted programs and partnerships that improve education outcomes

As part of our commitment to education, we launched Evidence for Learning a new social enterprise setup by Social Ventures Australia, incubated with $6 million of Commonwealth Bank funding. One of the enterprise's key programs is the Learning Impact Fund which connects Australian education programs with leading research institutions to evaluate these. The vision is to raise the academic achievement of children and young adults and improve the existing evidence base.

Evidence for Learning also continues to develop and augment the Australian Teaching and Learning Toolkit, a free resource providing teachers access to the best global education research.

In addition, we continued to recognise education excellence through the annual Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards with 60 educators recognised to date.

Case Study

Investing in Indigenous education

Strong relationships with community partners are an important part of our Reconciliation Action Plan. One such partner is the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME). AIME has a unique and proven model for giving Indigenous students the skills, opportunities, and confidence to succeed at school and in the workforce. In 2016 the Group supported the development of an Indigenous financial literacy program to commence in the 2017 financial year. Together, we've set a goal to see 10,000 Indigenous students participate in this program by 2020. We also previously committed, in 2013, to $1 million dollars towards scholarships over five years with the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation.

Partnership to develop centre of expertise for cyber security education

During the 2016 financial year we invested $1.6 million in a five-year partnership with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) to develop a centre of expertise for cyber security education and research. The partnership aims to boost the number of qualified security engineering professionals and teachers and facilitate a centre for expertise in cyber security.

The Security Engineering Partnership will help build industry capacity to battle the rising menace of cyber intrusions, identify theft, malware attacks and a host of other online perils, and alleviate a critical shortage of cyber security skills available to Australian businesses.

Under the partnership, we will support UNSW to build a Security Engineering Lab, which will become a centre of expertise for education and research in the area. It includes:

  • Creation of a new Security Engineering stream in UNSW’s computer science degree program with a comprehensive applied cyber security undergraduate curriculum. This will be published under creative commons licensing and made available as a massive open online course (MOOC);
  • A new Security Engineering Lab for hands-on teaching of security courses;
  • Recruitment of world-class staff; and
  • Support for new PhD research tackling internet security issues and for the tutoring of undergraduates.