Making money: Financial Literacy as an Object of Governance

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I had been told a couple of times that I had to clear out from the university server, a great mass of computer files from previous research projects – gigabytes of notes, videos, spreadsheets, ethics applications, reports, notes and reflections - associated with different projects over the years, all rather badly organised. Working in a relatively new, relatively remote Australian university, I enjoy being relatively unencumbered by academic traditions, but am suddenly constrained by the limits of our technology and my ability to use it. I must put all the files on a ‘USB Pen Drive’ and take them to ‘Records and Archives’ for storage. Then I must wipe the V: drive. If I want any archived file, I can walk down to ‘Records & Archives’ with a memory stick and request a copy. It is a strange feeling looking through all those files. They contain traces of so much interesting work undertaken since the computer server was introduced to store the objects of our work. There was a tinge of pride in all the complex collaborative work I had undertaken with Yolŋu Aboriginal people, and with colleagues and government workers, but that pride was spoilt by the feeling that so much of the material has remained unexamined, and never retold or reworked, and worse, that so many of the papers and reports – mostly to governments but also to industry and NGOs – really didn’t lead to much change on the ground. We seem to have been given more and more work over the past twenty years, with those who fund the research paying less and less attention to what we produce. In my cleaning work, I spotted a folder called ‘Financial Literacy Evaluation 2008’. Our cross-cultural consultancy group, which we called the Yolŋu Aboriginal Consultancy Initiative, had been asked to evaluate a program of Financial Literacy training for a small credit union based in the Northern Territory (which I’ll call ‘Small Bank’), dedicated to serving the financial needs of remote Aboriginal communities. The evaluation was being funded by a major national financial institution (which I’ll call ‘Big Bank’) as part of its commitment to ‘reconciliation’1. I began to piece back together in my mind why and how we had been invited to undertake this consultancy as I, pretty much randomly, opened up the most interesting-sounding files in what turned out to be a large trove of documents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-45
Number of pages6
JournalLearning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social contexts
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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