The firm will act as an independent program governance adviser as leaders from government, business and education develop plans to promote financial inclusion and resilience for two million vulnerable Australians experiencing severe financial stress.
Ashurst will provide pro bono advice to ensure the FIAP plans remain independent of the program partners' own businesses.
The program entails 12 participant organisations outlining the measurable actions they will take to strengthen financial inclusion and resilience for large numbers of people, with a particular focus on women. This includes those who may have limited availability to mainstream banking services because of little to no income or financial abuse.
“Far too many Australians have poor economic resources, poor financial knowledge and poor access to mainstream financial services. These Australians, especially women, are at risk of poverty and vulnerability to predatory lending and the consequential effects on health and wellbeing. Closing this gap is an important part of the firm's ongoing pro bono work dedicated to assisting marginalised individuals,” said Ashurst partner Kenneth Nguyen.
Good Shepherd Microfinance is appointed by the Federal Government to establish FIAP as part of its G20 and United Nations commitments to increase income equality. It is estimated that an increase in financial inclusion could increase household wealth by $50.9 billion, increase the GDP by $19.7 billion and save the Government an estimated $2.6 billion.
CEO of Good Shepherd Microfinance Adam Mooney comments: “There are two million people in Australia experiencing severe financial stress. Many of them are women. This economic modelling shows that by working together through product development, education and employment we can enable large numbers of people to reduce their financial stress and build their longer term resilience to reduce gender inequality.”
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Ashurst is advising Good Shepherd Microfinance on a pro bono basis in the establishment of its national Financial Inclusion Action Plan (FIAP) program.