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Teens on the autism spectrum gain financial confidence


Students on the autism spectrum at Thornton’s Aspect Hunter School are continuing to gain fiscal confidence.

For the second consecutive year, the pupils have received a tailored program – thanks to the Greater Bank Finance Academy – to help them learn more about money and banking.

The organisation delivers the free financial literacy outreach initiative to high school-aged youngsters throughout the Hunter, Central Coast, Central West and northern regions of NSW.

Greater Bank financial literacy Ambassador Nick Van Baal with student Chelsea Ruthenberg.

Supported through Aspect Hunter School’s partnership with the Greater Charitable Foundation, the program features bespoke content, which better meets the specific needs of the estimated one-in-70 Australians who are on the autism spectrum.

“It’s of real value to the students,” teacher Jess Wilkinson said.

“The initiative is really engaging, with hands-on activities as well as exploring relevant financial scenarios that help them learn important skills around budgeting and saving now and for the future.”

Greater Bank Finance Academy Ambassador Nick Van Baal explained Aspect was one of the schools he looked forward to presenting at the most.

“I’m lucky to have run two sessions in the past couple of years at Aspect,” he said.

“The class is always very positive and interactive, plus the students have plenty to contribute which makes the lesson extra enjoyable.

“It is the perfect age bracket to present to.

“A few of the students have already got their first part-time work, others are talking about life after school and earning money, some even have savings goals in place for buying their first cars.

“The topics we cover help everyone be more confident in relating goals to budget, understanding financial specifics such as credit, effects of interest rates, and avoiding common mistakes when it comes to financial decisions.”

Greater Charitable Foundation chief executive officer Anne Long said the program aided the pupils in preparing to tackle the challenges of transitioning from high school to the workforce.

“Adolescence can be a tricky time for anyone,” she added.

“So, making sure the content of the program speaks to the students at Aspect Hunter School and their life experience is so important.

“We want to make sure they have an informative and engaging financial literacy experience.

“Not only are the sessions helpful for the pupils, they’re also really rewarding for our Ambassadors, who are so passionate about delivering the program and teaching young people these life skills.”

The foundation has a long and proud history with Aspect, dating back to 2011, during which time it’s provided more than $1 million in funding.

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