An interview with the driving force behind ICAN Learn

Bernadette Pasco with the very first Diploma of Financial Counselling regional program in Bendigo, Victoria.


ICAN Learn E-News recently caught up with the driving force behind ICAN Learn, Bernadette Pasco. We thought this would be a good time to sit down with Bernadette and ask her some questions about the newly formed Registered Training Organisation (RTO), ‘social enterprise’.

  • You’ve had a vision to create something like ICAN Learn for a number of years; what is at the core of that vision and has it changed in any way?

I have seen the financial counselling and capability sector struggle for a long time to have education that focused solely on industry outcomes; real education to provide the best services to clients; real education to empower the workforce. Creating a training organisation was an opportunity to develop the tool and provide the means to deliver education in a meaningful way and build sector capacity; a tool that can be used anywhere in Australia to educate people into becoming financial counsellors and financial capability workers and to attract experts into becoming educators for the sector.

The vision remains; and has expanded into thinking about higher qualifications that can grow the role, resilience and expertise of financial counsellors and recognise the innate link between it and building financial capability. Education is the means to link diverse sectors; health, community services, law, support services, aged care, disability and a myriad of services that our communities need.

  •  Almost six months in as a Registered Training Organisation, social enterprise, what have been the big milestones been so far?

There have been a number of significant milestones; building a business plan, including staff in the thinking about the future, building a marketing strategy; engaging with the financial counselling and capability sectors; designing learning resources; developing and investing in electronic learning opportunities; website development and finally passing the first audit and finally becoming registered in June 2017.

The next big milestones include the ability to enrol students and commence delivery of; the Indigenous Financial Counselling Mentorship Program; the Multi-Cultural Scholarship Program and a regional program in Bendigo, Victoria; the latter two being both first of their kind and supporting students in enrolling from remote areas in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

  • How has how CBA supported ICAN Learn?

The absolute commitment of CBA to the ongoing provision of student scholarships enables Indigenous and students from multicultural backgrounds, to study the Diploma of Financial Counselling. This support has been the back bone of the opportunity for ICAN Learn to establish and embed our ongoing ability to deliver education to up and coming financial counsellors and capability workers coming from diverse backgrounds and communities.

  • What are the positives of being a social enterprise in the current landscape?

A social enterprise gives back to the community. ICAN Learn operates on the social enterprise model, to ensure that any surplus can support the ongoing development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to become financial counsellors, and for their communities to benefit from the support of quality casework.

As a social enterprise ICAN Learn can work more effectively with industry to design and deliver appropriate education where it is needed most and still maintain the compliance determined by the Australian Skills Quality Authority.

  • Reflecting on the extensive business planning undertaken before ICAN Learn was established, what has and continues to resonate with you the most?

The process of establishing ICAN Learn RTO started with a robust approach to business planning; including a whole of ICAN staff approach, engagement with the financial counselling and capability sector, and generous support from Social Ventures Australia (SVA), Deloitte, Gilbert & Tobin and University of Queensland who assisted with the governance, financial modelling and marketing strategy.

ICAN Learn’s philosophy; Educate. Empower. Learn. Lead.  reflects the core values revealed through our business planning; recognising that the process of education leads to empowerment and that the continuous learning journey promotes leadership of people to build a better society espousing financial and social inclusion.

If you’d like to find out more about ICAN Learn, please visit the website at .