Full fridge a sign of wealth for some Indigenous Australians

HAVING a full fridge could be considered being "rich” for many Indigenous Australians.

The shocking finding is part of a report released today during Reconciliation Week.

Money Stories released by the First Nations Foundation, NAB and the Centre for Social Impact, surveyed over 600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to examine what financial resilience meant to them.

It shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to have severe or high levels of financial stress (49 per cent) than the general Australian population (11 per cent), and it's happening all across Australia: in cities, regional, and remote areas.

Participants told of sharing money with family; with more than three quarters saying they'd given money to their family in the last year. Most did not mind being asked for money, but some said it gave them money trouble, or that they tried to avoid people 'humbugging' them.

The term was defined in the report as 'on-demand sharing, asking or pressuring a family member or other connection for money or other assistance in a way that can be bothersome'.

Fewer than two in five Indigenous respondents said they could access $2,000 for an emergency, compared with four in five from the wider population, while 54 per cent found it difficult to meet living expenses.

One in three people said they had used community or government support in the last year - they might have used a Centrelink advance payment or been given a food or energy voucher.

More than half of the respondents said they did not have any savings, compared to 13.5 per cent of people in the wider population. While this is partly a consequence of economic disparities, the report said cultural considerations were also relevant to understanding behaviour around savings.

The report recommends that financial and support services do more to recognise and integrate cultural differences in how some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people think about money, and integrate these values into services.

The report says initiatives such as the cashless welfare card in remote Australia have made an important way of caring for family - sharing cash - more difficult.