Phil Usher is a Wiradjuri man and CEO of First Nations Foundation, a national not for profit that is aiming to achieve financial prosperity for Indigenous Australians. In this interview, he shares the goals and community engagement approaches of First Nations Foundation, and the opportunities he sees ahead for the organisation.
- What are the main goals of First Nations Foundation? How do you know when you’ve reached them?
The vision of First Nations Foundation is achieving Financial Prosperity for Indigenous Australians. Education, resources, and outreach are the three primary areas that we focus on to work toward achieving our vision. A big element of this is working with finance companies such as banks and superfunds to help them deliver information and education in a culturally appropriate way.
One example of this is Indigenoussuper.com.au. We launched the site in partnership with key super funds to create something that would be able to provide information about super in a culturally friendly space. Each super fund that joined us as a sponsor receives their own dedicated web page. But rather than focusing on fees and performance like most super funds, we showcase what the fund is doing with the Aboriginal community via their own internal initiatives.
- What are the biggest opportunities for the First Nation Foundation to improve the effectiveness of their community engagement?
Community engagement is something that is critical to success for the Foundation. We want it to be more than just an activity and really embed this into our culture. Community is 1 of our 4 strategic pillars and operates as a guide when working with financial organisations. One challenge is engaging with communities all across Australia. We are a National organisation but do have limited capacity. Whilst we aim to be inclusive of the various communities it can be a challenge getting through consultation with communities in all states.
- What specifically is unique or important about community engagement for First Nations Foundation?
Over the past 6 years, we have connected Indigenous people to $24m in Superannuation via our outreach program The Big Super Day Out. The success of this program stems from the community partners that we have on board for each event. Not only do these organisations know about the nuances of each community, they also have a strong relationship as well. When we partner with the right organisation, we are able to leverage the relationship and provide the community with the best service based on how and when they like to receive the service.
About the expert
Phil Usher is a Wiradjuri man from Central New South Wales but grew up with the Gamilaroi people in Tamworth, a place he feels a strong culture connection to. He has a personal vision to empower people with world-class financial education. He is the CEO of First Nations Foundation, a national not for profit that is aiming to achieve financial prosperity for Indigenous Australians. Since 2014, the organisation has helped over 1600 Aboriginal people across 21 communities to be reconnected with $24m in superannuation. In 2019, the Foundation launched the world’s first online financial training designed by Aboriginal people, for Aboriginal people.
He is a regular finance commentator on ABC Breakfast TV and has been featured across a number of industry publications including Financial Planner Magazine, the Banking and Finance Magazine and Investor Daily.
Image description: Phil is smiling and sitting at a table. He wears a white collared shirt, and blue blazer.