Teaching students about mobile phone debt


With around 45% of 13 to 15 year olds and 50,000 children aged between five and nine owning a mobile phone (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2004), the incidence of mobile phone debt in students is on the rise.


The Financial Basics Foundation’s successful financial literacy teaching resource, Operation Financial Literacy, has recently launched a mobile phone module to help educate students about the dangers of mobile phone debt.


The launch of the module coincides with the recent introduction of a new industry code to protect vulnerable Australians, particularly young people, from getting into financial difficulties with mobile phone and internet services.


The module will help teach students about:

  • the various fees and charges associated with owning a mobile phone
  • common scams that are used to take advantage of mobile phone users
  • the importance of using a mobile phone wisely
  • the implications of incurring mobile phone debt
  • marketing approaches used to encourage teenagers to spend more on their mobile phones
  • security measures available to make a mobile phone more secure
  • the role of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman in resolving disputes over mobile phones.


It is anticipated that the module will help decrease the number of secondary school students getting into debt with their mobile phones.


Financial Basics Foundation chairman, Barrie Adams, said that “this is a hot topic for young people, their parents’ and teachers and we are very proud to be able to provide such relevant and up to date material on this topic”.  


Operation Financial Literacy - established by the Financial Basics Foundation and sponsored by Bank of Queensland and Collection House Limited - is a FREE teaching resource to help educators teach financial literacy and money management skills. It has been adopted by 600 secondary schools Australia-wide.


It contains ten modules covering topics such as saving, investing, credit, and insurance, and includes detailed teacher notes and student worksheets. 


Managing Director of Collection House, John Pearce, believes that Operation Financial Literacy is a practical way that those in the finance industry can be involved in educating young people about sound financial management skills.

Bank of Queensland Managing Director, David Liddy, said that, as a leading Australian financial institution, the Bank believes it has a responsibility to help educate young people in money management to enable them to be financially literate and live fulfilled lives.


“I think the mobile phone module is a very important part of Operation Financial Literacy.  Every time I turn on the TV or the radio, kids are being encouraged to SMS for the latest ring tone or vote for their favourite star on some reality TV show. 


“Mobile phones really can be a debt trap for our kids.  Rather than trying to get them to stop using phones all together, we need to ensure our children are educated and know how to be smart about their phones.”


About Financial Basics Foundation

Financial Basics Foundation was established to help educate secondary students about the credit system and responsible financial management practices.


Launched in February 2002, the Foundation was created by Collection House Limited, an ASX-listed receivables management company.


The Foundation has been established to achieve a specific dream:


"Helping to ensure that all young Australians leaving the secondary education system have an understanding of the credit system and financial management practices, so that they can make informed decisions on their financial affairs."


The Board of Collection House Limited have pledged their support through a $1million commitment over five years.