Take a minute with your money campaign

Videos for Indigenous Australians

ASIC has created three new animated videos to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians with information about car loans, renting appliances, and using book up (a tab or store account).

Watch the 'Take a minute with your money' videos here and find out how and why ASIC developed them.

Watch the videos

In these videos, the characters Aunty B and Uncle Bob remind you to 'take a minute with your money' to avoid some common problems when you buy a car, rent things for your home, or use book up at your local shop.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain voices of deceased people.

Video: Buying a car

Animated video about buying a car

Aunty B and Uncle Bob explain how to get the best deal on a car and on your loan.

Video: Renting things for your home

Animated video about renting things for your home

Aunty B explains how costly it can be to rent things for your home and shows you how to get the best deal for you and your family.

Video: Book up

Animated video about managing your store account

Aunty B shows you how to manage your store account or tab so you stay in control of your money.

Key messages of the campaign

The campaign tagline, 'take a minute with your money', was chosen to encourage Indigenous consumers not to be pressured or rushed into a financial decision.

The videos are designed to help Indigenous consumers feel empowered and in control of their money and make financial decisions that are right for them.

Why we developed the campaign 

ASIC is committed to helping all Australians better understand financial issues. This is particularly important for Indigenous Australians, who are overrepresented in groups with the lowest financial literacy.

We recognise that this does not apply to all Indigenous Australians. However, because of historical and cultural factors, many Indigenous people have attitudes towards money that are different to those of non-Indigenous Australians. For some Indigenous people, money is not valued by its fixed exchange value but by its ability to be used to care for family. Our videos reflect this important value.

In 2015, ASIC undertook an Indigenous financial literacy 'stocktake' to identify gaps in the content and format of resources. This research found there was a need for financial literacy resources focusing on buying a car, renting appliances and using book up, and these should be targeted towards regional and remote consumers.

ASIC regularly receives reports of misconduct about consumer leases, car financing and book up from Indigenous consumers across Australia. An education campaign focused on these areas is one way ASIC can help consumers avoid serious financial problems.

Nathan Boyle talks about the campaign

Listen to an interview on Sydney radio station 2SER with analyst Nathan Boyle who explains why ASIC has launched the 'Take a minute with your money' campaign to help Indigenous consumers.

Nathan Boyle interview on radio 2SER (16 mins)

Interviewer 1: Well last month ASIC released a financial literacy program aimed at Indigenous consumers called 'Take a minute with your money'. This campaign is part of a larger Indigenous Outreach Program, which promotes financial literacy amongst Indigenous Australians. We've got Nathan Boyle from ASIC's Indigenous Outreach Program in the studio with us to tell us a bit about the process of developing an Indigenous financial literacy campaign. Nathan's a Woragery man and analyst for the Indigenous Outreach Program since 2011. Welcome Nathan to the program.

Nathan: No worries, thanks very much for having us on.

Interviewer 1: Well, ASIC traditionally deals with regulation of companies and such, so how's ASIC got involved in this sort of the outreach program that you've done?

Nathan: Well it's quite interesting a lot of people think that ASIC purely regulates corporations and companies, but we're actually the corporate markets and financial services industry regulator. So we're responsible for a lot of consumer protection work as well, including credit, superannuation, banking and insurance. And it was recognised that Indigenous consumers, as a broad subset of the population, tend to have a much lower level of understanding of how to work with them products and services. So in 2009 an external review was conducted, and after that review they decided that we needed to have a formal Indigenous outreach program to make sure that that section of the population was having their consumer rights protected.

Interviewer 2: So in terms of financial issues within the Indigenous community, what are the major ones that they face?

Nathan: Indigenous consumers, it's important to say, have a real breadth of experience - some people are financial experts and some people really struggle with understanding the mainstream economy. But some of the biggest issues that we come across are in the book up space, which is informal credit provision in remote Indigenous communities. Where sometimes we see stores will request a consumer's key card and PIN number and then use them banking details to withdraw all or nearly all the funds from a consumers account. We see people being targeted by consumer lease providers for example, and they might be signed up to three or four or five different products on consumer leases, where they can be paying interest rates of up to 800% if they had have bought that on a credit contract.

Interviewer 2: It's naivety as well, you're educating people just to be a little bit more guarded with financial information that they're providing to potential suppliers.

Nathan: Yeah, that's right. Look Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as a broad subset of the population, have had a lot less experience in engaging with financial services than other Australians. You've got to remember that for a lot of Aboriginal people the first time they had access to their own money was after the 1967 referendum, so it's really the first few generations that have had access to that money. And then we're also dealing with some consumers that live in regional and remote areas of Australia where English might not be their first language, and they might only deal regularly with one business. But then we see these outside providers coming into the communities and signing people up to contracts that they really don't understand, they haven't had any experience with them, they haven't seen them before.

Interviewer 1: Well just a lease document can be like 10 pages long, can't it, with - depending on the lease company I suppose - with lots of very small writing in legalese which is pretty hard to understand. And people just go "oh yeah, it's fine, just sign down here and you'll have your car", that's what they tell you, so I guess it is difficult when you haven't had experience?

Nathan: Yes. That's right and we see some really predatory practices from some of these consumer lease providers. One of the ones that we looked into in particular had gotten a respected elder from the community and given them an incentive to introduce the company to other members of the community. So community members already felt comfortable to sign up, because they trusted the elder.

Interviewer 1: So it's a version of celebrity endorsement, isn't it really?

Nathan: That's right, yeah absolutely.

Interviewer 1: And I just wanted to ask you what the actual 'Take a minute with your money' campaign was that you've developed. Can you explain what… How it encapsulates what it is?

Nathan: Yeah, so ASIC's Indigenous Outreach Program has a whole number of roles, so we do everything that ASIC does in the consumer protection space. That includes investigating financial services misconduct, it includes working with industry to improve their practices, and then the third main thing that we do is produce financial literacy resources targeted at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. A lot of our resources have been paper-based and aimed at intermediaries to assist them to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. But we conducted a research process to have a look at the financial literacy materials that were out there and to identify some of the gaps, and what we discovered from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people around the country was that there was a real gap in audio visual resources that were targeting Indigenous consumers that might not have enough literacy to be able to read our written publications. And so out of that research that we conducted and focus groups around the country, we determined that the three most important issues for that consumer group, for Aboriginal people living in regional and remote areas were consumer leasing, buying a car and renting things for their home.

Interviewer 1: Well, actually, I think we have a clip of buying a car here so we might just play that now.

Cousin 1: Hey cuz, you should get a flash new ute. With your deadly new job you can afford it. I can see us now, stylin' up around town.

Cousin 2: Yeah but I only need something to get to work.

Cousin 1: ...and maybe take the mob on that fishing trip.

Salesman: Morning fellas, I've got just the car for you. This one is perfect. I can do some special extras as well: tinted windows, a bull bar, roof racks. And with a car like this you'll be wanting all the extras.

Interviewer 1: So you can tell the sales pitch there can't you? And I guess people can identify with the two guys that are looking at buying a car?

Nathan: Absolutely, and look we've tried to use really identifiable characters from Indigenous communities and the two main characters that tell the stories across the three animations and radio plays that we've produced are Aunty B and Uncle Bob. They represent Indigenous elders, the knowledge holders and custodians of knowledge in Aboriginal communities.

So we hope that by using respected people to give these tips about taking a minute with your money, not being rushed into signing up to contracts that you don't understand, that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers will identify with their messages and that they will be able to understand them and really think about that next time they are approached with one of these deals.

Interviewer 1: And one of the messages is, that Uncle Bob is talking about interest rates and you've got to be careful about how high they are, cause a lot of consumer finance you can get… There's a lot of sharks out there?

Nathan: Absolutely. One of the investigations that we conducted into a motor vehicle finance provider found that Indigenous consumers who were predominately receiving Centrelink as an income were being signed up to motor vehicle loans for $12,000 at 48% interest. And when we undertook the investigation into that particular provider, we found out that most of the consumers that had entered into them contracts, had no idea what an interest rate was. So not only did people not know that 48% was too high, they had no concept of what interest was at all.

So that's why it's really important that even basic consumer concepts, that we can break them down. Because if we can help the people who have the lowest level of knowledge about financial services to be able to understand the very basics then that's what our job is. Our job is protecting the most vulnerable consumers, and then we can build up from there to make sure that everyone understands them concepts.

Interviewer 1: And what sort of interest rates should they expect?

Nathan: A usual car loan would probably be around 16% interest, so 48% is kind of three times higher than that.

Interviewer 2: But they should be able to negotiate that as well. And is that part of the training process as well? Understanding that when you're going out for a loan, there is the opportunity for you to be able to make a deal if you like and reduce a rate like 16%?

Nathan: That's some of the work that we would do if we were on the ground, but we're quite a small team. We're currently six people nationally, so the resources that we produce are really around education and then we try and work with intermediaries like financial counsellors and community legal centres to give them the tools that they need to be able to run that kind of education on the ground in communities.

Interviewer 2: Now another issue that you've got obviously with Indigenous people is store accounts and I know you've produced another sort of audio visual, and we've got a grab of that book up video as well. So let's have a listen to that.

Aunty B: Before you use book up, remember these three things:

  1. You decide what gets booked up. Don't get pressured by others to buy stuff you don't need, even if they are real cute. That's a lot of chocolate Billy, you're gonna have to put it back.
  2. Next, check the amount you owe. So your book up account doesn't get too high, or you might never pay it off.
  3. And remember, you are in charge of your ATM card. To keep your money safe, never tell anyone your PIN.

Interviewer 2: And book up's like in a remote community where you have one store. Is that where you would use a book up account?

Nathan: A very basic explanation of what book up is - it's like if you haven't got enough money to buy bread and milk and you go to the local store, you grab the bread and milk and they write it down, and you come and pay them next payday. But what we see with some of the really predatory book up practices is that they're not keeping accurate records of the store accounts and tabs. So, there's no way for the store to tell how much the consumer owes. Then they'll ask the consumer as I said before, to leave their key card and their PIN number and they'll then use them to withdraw all or nearly all of the money from the consumers account.

I guess one of the key messages we're trying to get across with that video is not to give anyone your PIN number, because that reduces your consumer protections from the bank, so if someone does take too much of your money there's no way for you to get that money back. We're also asking consumers to think about how much they are booking up and to make sure that they know exactly how much it is that they owe the store.

Interviewer 2: So Nathan, how did the Indigenous Outreach Program identify these issues in store? How was that bought to your attention?

Nathan: Book up is something that's existed for a very long time because back in the day, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were sent out to work and you might have heard of Aboriginal trust funds and stuff, where wages of Aboriginal people were paid into Government accounts. And the way that that money was distributed was by cheque that was sent to the local store. And obviously, 50-60 years ago, the postal service wasn't as good as it is now, so by the time them cheques arrived at the store, it might have been two or three weeks. People got used to booking up their food and then the store would cash the cheque and reduce the store account by however much it was from their wages. That practice is something that's kind of developed and continued, particularly in more regional and remote areas. It's a practice that people are just used to.

Interviewer 2: So the reception to the videos, how has it been to date and how do you get that sort of information out to the remote areas that may not have access to the audio visual online? So how do you do that?

Nathan: The reaction to the videos has been really good. We launched them during NAIDOC week up in Darwin, which was fantastic because some of the Indigenous Outreach Program staff members got to go to Darwin and we were able to invite members of the local community in to have a look at the videos. The way that we get it out to people in regional and remote communities is that our team constantly does work to work with our stakeholder network - so them intermediaries that I spoke about before. We provide access to the videos and the audio clips on USB sticks and CDs so that intermediaries and service providers in more remote areas have access to them even if they don't have access to the internet.

In addition to that, we conduct regular outreach trips as part of our investigative work or to run financial literacy training in remote communities and during them trips, obviously these audio visual materials that we've produced really allow us to be able to have a maximum impact.

Interviewer 1: Well, we might just take a short break there Nathan. We're with Nathan Boyle and he's behind the program for Indigenous financial literacy at ASIC. I'm Roderick Chambers, you're listening to 'On the Money', so we'll be back with you in just one moment.

Interviewer 1: Well, we're back here with Nathan Boyle, from the Indigenous Outreach Program at ASIC, something you might not have thought ASIC might be doing. I'm Roderick Chambers, I'm here with Tanya Katsanis.

Nathan, look I understand that you've currently got a couple of court cases going on, what can you say about them which isn't going to affect those court cases?

Nathan: Absolutely. We do have two court cases - one of them that I mentioned before is against a finance provider. ASIC issued proceedings in the Federal Court of Queensland against the Cairns-based operator who was offering high-interest credit contracts, as I said, to Indigenous consumers and look they were targeting one of Australia's most disadvantaged postal areas with them high-interest contracts.

The court case we've run is alleging breaches of the responsible lending obligations, as well as some instances of unconscionable conduct in relation to a series of loans that were given to consumers for the purchase of motor vehicles. That judgement has been reserved, so there's not too much more that I can say about that one at the moment.

The second case that we've got at the moment involves a book up provider in central Australia, again where they were targeting vulnerable consumers whose first language wasn't English. That case that we've taken in central Australia is actually the first time that a book up proceedings has been taken to court under the responsible lending provisions. So that judgement is also reserved. We're really interested to see the way that the court interprets the responsible lending provisions under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act and how they might apply to book up, because we think that there might be opportunities to strengthen the regulation of book up and to really bring in some further protections for the most vulnerable consumers.

Interviewer 1: And I just wanted to quickly ask, what was the role of the Indigenous advertising agency, Gilimbaa, in developing some of the content? How did that come about?

Nathan: We think it is really important to support Indigenous businesses and also that there are creative agencies and other agencies that have much better skills in the areas of producing cartoons and radio segments then we do ourselves. We contracted Gilimbaa, an Indigenous creative agency to help us really hone the concepts we wanted to get across. We provided Gilimbaa with a few key messages and asked them to work with us in developing the scripting and the characters for these resources, so that we could make sure that they were humorous and that they were able to get the message across in a way that would really engage the audience that we were targeting.

Interviewer 1: Well I think it's very engaging even though I'm not the target audience I suppose.

Nathan: The other role that Gilimbaa played for us is that they went out and conducted focus groups with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in regional, remote and urban areas throughout Australia, so that we got continuous feedback throughout the process of developing these resources.

And I just do want to mention, if I can, that anyone can have a look at these resources in the 'Take a minute with your money' campaign. We've got a campaign page on our consumer literacy website, which is MoneySmart. And the web address for that is www.moneysmart.gov.au. One of the other things that I'd really like to mention, is just one of the things that I always say in case we do have any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander listeners on the radio. One of the key messages that I like to get across to people is that you don't have to be your own doctor when it comes to money issues. If you've got a pain in the stomach, no one expects you to dig around and work out for yourself what's going on, they recommend that you go and see your local doctor. It's the same thing with money issues and financial issues. So if you are coming across something that you've signed a contract for, that you're struggling to afford, or you've got any questions about any kind of financial issue, then we'd encourage you to give us a call on our Indigenous helpline. And the number for our Indigenous helpline is 1300 365 957. If you call that number, you'll come straight through to one of our Indigenous specialists, they'll be able to help you out.

Interviewer 2: So all those videos that you actually have produced, they're all accessible via the website you've just provided?

Nathan: Absolutely, yes.

Interviewer 2: Fantastic.

Interviewer 1: Alright, well Nathan thanks again for coming in. Thanks for being on 'On the money'.

Interviewer 2: Thank you Nathan.

Nathan: Fantastic. Thanks very much for having us on.

How the campaign was developed

ASIC worked with Indigenous creative agency, Gilimbaa to develop the animations and they are voiced by Indigenous voiceover artists.

The video scripts were tested with members of the Indigenous community to make sure they were relevant, useful and culturally appropriate.

The characters of Aunty B and Uncle Bob in the videos represent Indigenous elders, who are the custodians of wisdom in their communities. When they tell the younger characters to 'take a minute with your money', it is because they know from experience that this is how to make the right decision for you and your family.

Promotion of the videos 

The videos are being distributed through ASIC's MoneySmart social media channels, and a number of other stakeholders, including financial counsellors, community legal centres and Indigenous organisations are also promoting the campaign.

If you would like to embed the videos on your website, or use them on your social media channels, please contact us at feedback@moneysmart.gov.au.

Stopping to 'take a minute with your money' can help to put you and your family in a better financial position.

Related links

Last updated: 14 May 2018