Financial wellbeing and sustainable development goals: natural allies or strange bedfellows?

Stream: Financial inclusion
Date: Monday, 9 September 2019
Time: 11.30 am – 12.30 pm


The release of the 2019 Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (Hayne, 2019) has not had the intended effect of allaying mistrust in the financial services sector in Australia. This brings into sharp focus the question of why despite decades of social policies and programs seeking to improve financial inclusion in Australia, the inequalities remain and vulnerabilities are status quo. While NGOs, the Government and private sector have collaborated to bring innovative programs to address the issues, there has been little improvement of the financial resilience of vulnerable Australian populace. At the start of 2018 close to 2.1 million adults were considered financially vulnerable (Marjolin, Muir & Weier 2018) leaving them susceptible to homelessness and poverty.

The contemporary policy discourses and practices are heavily focussed on locating the ‘problem’ at the individual level rather than structural. In other words, financial exclusion is a problem of individual access and knowledge and with sufficient products/services and knowledge/training, the ‘problem’ can be solved. This paper calls to fix our gaze on the structural factors that impact financial wellbeing of vulnerable Australians. Inspired by the multilayered approach of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, this paper recommends that Australian social policies and practitioners working in the financial wellbeing space need to move beyond access and knowledge to addressing power hierarchies and freedoms.


Archana Preeti Voola (Presenter), UNSW Sydney
Archana Preeti Voola has a PhD and Post Doc from UNSW. She works at the Centre for Social Impact, UNSW Business School. Her primary research interests include post structural feminist analyses, sociology of gender, comparative social policy and poverty alleviation. She has published in journals including Australian Journal of Social Issues, Third Sector Review, and The International Education Journal: Comparative Perspectives and European Journal of Marketing.