Words by Dani Coombes
In the quest to break intergenerational cycles of economic disadvantage among Indigenous communities, young women are embracing the power of storytelling and cultivating "rich" mindsets, says Larisha Jerome, a Jarowair, Wakka Wakka, and Wulli Wulli woman, and former banker-turned-podcaster. Armed with extensive experience in debt collection and financial abuse prevention, Larisha has worked with notable institutions like the Commonwealth Bank, Indigenous Business Australia, and the Women's Legal Service Queensland.
Now, as the host of the Rich Blak Women podcast, Larisha aims to empower Indigenous women by using the transformative force of stories to shatter financial taboos and foster a sense of community. By sharing their experiences, these women can break free from the chains of "money shame" and start taking control of their financial destinies. To Larisha, healing is the key to achieving generational wealth and dispelling the notion that Indigenous women are undeserving of prosperous lives despite enduring historical atrocities like genocide, dispossession, and colonisation.
One of the primary messages Larisha seeks to convey is that self-care should encompass more than just face masks and yoga; it should extend to developing healthy financial behaviours and openly discussing money matters. Growing up in Queensland and western Sydney, Larisha did not witness frequent discussions about finances at home. At the age of 21, Larisha was in a relationship that allowed her to purchase a $535,000 home, which enabled her to have good financial foundations.
Eager to share her financial insights and empower others, Larisha initiated money masterclasses, where participants created their own "balance sheets" to gain a deeper understanding of their financial situation. These eye-opening experiences underscored the importance of financial literacy and staying on top of financial matters while celebrating personal achievements. Witnessing the empowerment of her fellow women, Larisha recognized the need to extend her efforts beyond the podcast and took on the role of project lead at the First Nations Foundation's Indigenous Women's Financial Wellness Project.
Through this project, Larisha spearheads financial literacy training on various topics, including debt elimination, automating finances, and cultivating saving habits. The initiative also offers an online community for Indigenous women to connect and support each other on their financial journeys. Larisha emphasises the significance of understanding First Nations people's history as a stepping stone toward economic justice and empowerment.
Research conducted by the First Nations Foundation and the Centre for Social Impact underscores the challenges faced by Indigenous Australians in achieving financial security. Alarmingly, less than 40 percent of Indigenous Australians can gather $2000 within a week in case of an emergency. Additionally, one in five reported using high-cost lending methods in the past year, a rate significantly higher than the general Australian population.
Larisha Jerome's dedication to empowering Indigenous women and fostering financial well-being shines brightly through her podcast and the Indigenous Women's Financial Wellness Project. By redefining self-care and encouraging open dialogue about finances, she is contributing to the transformation of intergenerational patterns and charting a path toward economic empowerment and prosperity for her community.