White Box to co-design new financial wellbeing program for jobs-focused social enterprise

White Box Enterprises is determined to strengthen the jobs-focused social enterprise movement in Australia, announcing today its plans to co-design a new financial wellbeing program in collaboration with selected social enterprises to enhance the vital wrap-around supports these businesses provide.

The three-year program, made possible through the support of Ecstra Foundation (Ecstra), aims to equip social enterprises with the necessary tools and knowledge to help their employees improve their financial literacy and wellbeing, ultimately leading to improved financial decision making and independence.

A vast number of research studies undertaken by public, private and social sectors demonstrate that improving financial literacy and resilience with people experiencing disadvantage can reduce financial stress and inequality, and improve health and relationships.

“We know that if someone is equipped with the knowledge, tools and confidence to manage their money, this can lead to more positive outcomes in other areas of their life.” said Kelly Taylor, National Programs Manager, White Box Enterprises.

Restricted by costs and resourcing, today very few jobs-focused social enterprises have financial wellbeing programs embedded into their employment support models.

“There is a significant opportunity here. We’ll initially be working alongside 15 social enterprises to co-design the program, tailoring it to the social enterprises’ operations and the diversity of individuals they support.” said Ms Taylor.

The social enterprises participating in the initial stages of the program are those involved in the White Box Payment By Outcomes Trial. As the program progresses, White Box hopes to expand the program offering to more jobs-focused social enterprises across Australia.

CSI Swinburne has been engaged to evaluate the program, looking at the approach and delivery, as well as the program outcomes.

"Beyond program outcomes we also want to take this opportunity to better understand what works best in the unique context of jobs-focused social enterprises.” said Ms Taylor.

“Social enterprises employ and support a diverse range of individuals facing barriers to employment and social inclusion. Over the three-year program we plan to design and implement bespoke approaches to meet the needs of these diverse communities whilst building upon the strengths of social enterprises.” said Ms Taylor.

Pictured above: Kaleb an employee of yourtown.

Sarai Tuuga, National Social Enterprise Manager of yourtown, one of the participating social enterprises said, “Amongst the individuals we train and employ, this might be the first time they’re earning an award wage. So, arming them with the tools and knowledge to make good financial decisions is going to be a real value-add to our existing supports.”

The wrap-around supports provided to employees is a defining feature of a jobs-focused social enterprise, and what separates these businesses from other employers. They can include specialist supports such as counsellors, youth workers, mental health practitioners but most importantly they provide an approach that enables great understanding and flexibility required to each individual’s circumstances.

By incorporating financial wellbeing into their wrap-around support model, social enterprises can build their capability in supporting employees to progress and work towards improved wellbeing outcomes.

Caroline Stewart, CEO of Ecstra, also commented, “Financial wellbeing is intrinsically linked to the overall physical, mental and social health of individuals and communities.”

“The White Box model offers an innovative approach to delivering wellbeing support to employees and helping improve financial capability outcomes. We are very pleased to partner with White Box on this initiative.”

Social enterprises involved in the program co-design include Ability Enterprises, Ability Works, Australian Spatial Analytics (ASA), Cleanable, Clean Force, Dismantle, Fruit2Work, Green Collect, Hotel Etico, Jigsaw, Kalan Enterprises, SevGen, STREAT, YMCA Rebuild and Your Town.

To learn more about the work White Box is doing to mainstream jobs-focused social enterprise, head to our news page.