Meet #WomanWithVerve, Fiona Hamilton.
Fiona is a Trawlwulwuy woman of the Tasmanian Aboriginal First Nations people. A respected advocate for Aboriginal women in economic development, arts, family violence prevention, cultural heritage management, and public policy spaces, Fiona works with Aboriginal communities across Australia at a senior level. In honour of National Reconciliation Week (May 27 – June 3), we are delighted to share her money story with you. We’re sure you’ll agree she’s one pretty amazing woman with Verve!
Tell us about your relationship with money…
I was raised in a single parent household by my amazing mother. There was never much money but my mother was so resourceful at managing the little money we did have. She was an expert at budgeting and taught my sister and I how to use money well and how to set a budget and stick to it. As I got older, it’s been more complex to learn how to manage money, and sometimes it’s hard to know where to get advice that can be trusted. Now that I have a daughter of my own, I really want to teach her about how to use her money well, and I want to make sure she has some financial security. This is really important for Aboriginal women and families – we have to think about making life better for our kids in the future.
What does a ‘wealth’ and a ‘wealthy life’ mean to you?
To me, a wealthy life means more than just financial security. When I think of wealth, I think about healthy, strong communities that are resilient. Wealth to me means wisdom and the sharing of knowledge. It also means having the right to participate in making decisions that will affect you and your future, and to have the right to self-determination. I think it’s really important that young Aboriginal women, and all young women, have strong women around them as role models and strong healthy communities around them to provide them with information and support, so that we can create their own wealth in ways that are meaningful to us.
Why did you join Verve?
I joined Verve because I believe in women, and I believe that we can create better models of business, enterprise and investment for ourselves that suit our needs, on our own terms. I also want to see my superannuation used in considered, socially responsible and ethical ways. I got tired of ignoring my superannuation and it always going into default funds, but never really feeling like it was my super, or that I was in control of it.
When I joined Verve, I felt like I could really understand what was happening with my super, and it felt really powerful to have control of my funds finally. Joining Verve has made me take a different view of my super and how it works for me, which is exactly what I had hoped for.
What do you wish women knew about super?
Before I joined Verve, a lot of my super had always been in default funds. It made me think that women are very often put in “default” in all sorts of ways.
I would really love women to know that your choice of super fund is important, and that you can participate very actively in the management of your super. You don’t have to accept your super sitting in funds and investments passively, or in funds that are continuing to (let’s face it) be controlled by mainly men. I’m not saying there’s some group of suited men out there twisting their moustaches and trying to work out ways to stop women from achieving better results from their super, but I do think that when systems (like super funds) don’t value their customers needs; systems need to change. That’s what I think Verve can and will achieve. Women and our needs should be taken far more seriously with regards to superannuation.
What are your hopes for women in this country and for the Verve Community?
I’d love to see women not have to retire with less superannuation than men and for Verve to continue to grow and expand its range of services to women beyond superannuation.
If you could choose to have dinner with one amazing woman, who would it be and why?
I’d choose to have dinner with Deborah Mailman. She is an incredible actor and artist, and an amazing role model for Aboriginal women. She’s had an incredible career and I think she would be very inspiring to have a chat with.
Lastly, if you could tell the world one thing about Verve what would it be?
Joining Verve has been a really positive thing for me. It has completely changed my perspective on my own superannuation, but also of what a super fund can and should do on behalf of its members. I would encourage any woman, and especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to check Verve out and join. I hope women continue to support Verve and become members – when you do, your sisters will be here to welcome you with open arms!
Thank you so much to Verve Member Fiona for sharing her story and being such a strong part of the Verve community. We believe that every woman has a unique story, and every story is unique in its power to improve the lives of other women. Are you a Verve Member and would like to share your story? Go on, send us an email and let’s do it: firstname.lastname@example.org