Filling the gap in financial support programs: Financial Empowerment and Resilience Network (FERN) project report

Rory Anderson

The FERN Project provided a testing ground for operationalising BSL’s financial wellbeing framework.

At a glance

Financial capability programs play an important role in supporting those needing help with money matters. These programs sit in the gap between financial counselling and financial planning.

Dive deeper

Between January 2021 and June 2023, the Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL) developed and delivered the Financial Empowerment and Resilience Network (FERN) pilot program. This project operationalised BSL’s financial wellbeing framework by delivering financial capability workshops to participants. In addition, FERN brought together 12 likeminded financial capability workers in a community of practice called the Financial Capability Practitioner Network (FCPN).

Participants surveyed reported improved confidence, improved feelings of control, and changed behaviour with money after attending FERN program activities. For example, survey comments indicated that participants had changed their behaviour, had started a budget or had changed their spending habits, and were more confident understanding their bank statements.

Insights and next steps:

1. BSL is well placed to continue and expand on the success of the FERN Project to address gaps in financial capability program offerings.

2. Voluntary programs need comprehensive recruitment strategies.

3. Staff with complementary knowledge bases are essential to good service design and delivery.

4. One-on-one financial coaching with participants deserves further exploration but may require specific promotion and appropriate resources.

5. Collaboration with other organisations can enhance financial capability work, provided there is organisational commitment.

Last updated on 26 September 2023