Manage your income, manage your life

A unique financial and life management program, Manage your Income, Manage your Life began as an initiative of the Murdi Paaki (Western New South Wales) men’s group. It helps First Australians manage their money better, gain greater independence and grow in confidence.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.

About the program

Giving people the power to look after their money eases stress and gives confidence in many areas of life.”
Ellen Doolan,
past program participant

In many First Australian communities, poor health and living standards can be sourced to poor money management. The Manage Your Income, Manage Your Life program runs a diverse range of activities in country New South Wales, all aimed at helping First Australians gain the skills and confidence to manage their lives more effectively.

At the heart of the program are financial literacy workshops and courses that foster an understanding of financial institutions and money management. Wherever possible, trainers and financial counsellors are themselves First Australians.

Key to the program's impact is its 'Train the Trainer' philosophy, in which people who have undertaken training are empowered to pass their knowledge on to their family, friends, community and workplace. Past participants have sometimes joined the program as financial counsellors. Ellen Doolan is one example.

The program recognises that the causes and consequences of financial difficulties are complex. So financial skills training is complemented with other non-financial activities, such as the Strive2Drive program, a food bank, and materials to help First Australians deal with assertive salespeople.

Karen cooking


Karen lives in a remote town in New South Wales. Without a car to drive the long distance to a supermarket, she was forced to buy more expensive food from her local store. 

“I was in a lot of debt and wasn’t handling my money properly,” says Karen. “Feeding the kids was about what was easiest, not what is healthy.”

Karen took part in the program's budgeting workshops, monthly budget planning sessions, nutrition workshops and cooking activities. She now has the tools she needs to take control of her finances and provide regular, healthy meals for her family. She’s also volunteering in her community and sharing her knowledge with others. Karen features in Project Compasssion 2015. Read more »

Blog items about the program

Program details

  • Issues: Indigenous rights; Education
  • Partner Agency: CentaCare Wilcannia-Forbes
  • Funding in 2014/15 financial year: AU $280,000
  • Geographic location: Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes, Western New South Wales
  • When established: 2004