SARA financial well being course for women


VICSEG has partnered with the Centre for Adult Education to deliver the SARA financial wellbeing course to women from new and emerging communities in the north and west of Melbourne.  The target audience for this pilot project is women who want to increase their control of money matters and improve their financial wellbeing. The course uses a strength-based, trauma-informed approach in order to be particularly suitable for victim-survivors of family violence.

Hume SARA course for Arabic speaking women 

In term 2, an 8-week course was delivered at the Mt. Ridley College school community hub in Craigieburn, which was attended by 8 refugee women with young children from the Assyrian Chaldean community. On-site childcare was provided free of charge to support access.  All participants met the ACFE eligibility criteria and completed the course. The facilitator Maria Toma developed a good rapport with the group and has continued supporting for a number of individual women in her role as VICSEG family mentor.. 

When asked about what they gained from this course, participants provided the following feedback: 

  • Maria introduced us to the Smart Money app and that has been extremely helpful for me.

  • It is a very good course as it has taught me a lot about how to budget for my family. 

  • Money is managed in my family by my husband because I am happy for him to do it. I did not think that it was important for me to know about managing money but after coming to this program I realised that I too should take some responsibility and understand about it. I have started taking interest in the family budget and am trying to save up some money with which I can buy little things for my children.

  • I had set goals for myself to save $50 over the two months and I’m happy to say that I have managed to do it. I will use this money to take my children to their favourite play centre during the school holidays. 

  • I understand more about my Centrelink payments, mortgage payments and childcare subsidy after doing this course. Maria has told us about shopping around for getting better deals from utility services and that has been very helpful.

  • My husband was initially not very happy with me doing a financial course but when I shared with him some of the good things that I have learnt here, he was happy for me to continue. I learnt about budgeting, setting small goals, saving little bit of money here and there and asking services more questions about their offer rather than agreeing to whatever they suggested. 

  • It is important that both partners know about managing the family finance so that they don’t feel that the other is hiding something from them or controlling all the money. I did not think of it this way and was happy for my husband to manage all our money but now am taking interest too and learning about managing money.

  • I have opened a bank account for myself after joining this course and I have started to put it any extra money into it and not think about it anymore. I know at the back of my mind that I have something to fall back on.

Wyndham SARA course for Burmese women 

In Term 3, a 10-week course was delivered at the Wyndham Park Primary School, attended by 16 women with young children from the Karen Burmese community.  On-site childcare was provided free of charge to support access. 

In seeking feedback from participants, the women were asked to comment on the following.

What does the term financial ‘wellbeing’ mean to you?
When we have enough money to pay for what we want and can we afford to pay rent, bills, children’s school fees and uniforms, food for thef amily

How I learnt about money?
During our childhood we had no contact with money.  We heard our parents talk about buying things to provide for the house, like needing to buy rice, salt and extra things like oil and meat. Learnt about money from mostly mums and sometimes from dads

Our feelings and attitudes towards money
Before coming to Australia we didn’t really need to have money as there were no shops in the village and everyone had their own orchard, vegetables garden and fish in the river. Wanted a new clothes but our parents could afford it. They told us to wait and that children don’t need money because we get what our parents provide. However,  sometimes we wished  to have a few cents to buy a home made sweet

What areas of money management do you control now?
The majority of women said they were responsible for basic household expenditure such as rent, children’s school lunches and uniforms, groceries for daily preparation of family meals. Some said that their husbands would not allow them to spend money on themselves. If they do not seek permission they will be in trouble (argument occurs)

How do I feel about money now?
Most of the women said they can control the money and buy what the children want and need. A few said, they can manage the budget but do not know how to save .One said she saves every coin left over each time after the shopping.

Emotions about money and fears
Most of the women receive benefits from Centrelink but are concerned that it’s not enough to pay the monthly rent and bills, so they eat less and worry about not being able to afford food and snacks for their children. Some fear that their husband will lose his  job or get a  speeding fine  or spend too much on alcohol and cigarettes  while the rest of the family has to  save for basic needs

Setting a micro-goal
To get into the habit of saving for essentials such as new clothes and shoes or personal needs, the women in the group, including the facilitator, each decided to group decided such as The group decided to Setting our micro goals to buy something for ourselves was group task goal to support and make a habit of saving for emergency purposes- new clothes- shoes or pampering As a group, including me as the facilitator we decided to set aside $20 per week for 10 weeks after paying for weekly shopping.