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Pathway for National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 

3 March 2022

Australian Banks have today outlined a pathway for further reform ahead of the release of the Federal Government’s National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children. 

The Plan should consider removing existing legal barriers that make it more difficult for financial institutions to help victim survivors of financial abuse.  

Improvements could be made in three key areas as outlined in the Australian Banking Association’s (ABA’s) wider submission to this process:  

  • Privacy Act Review – Australian privacy law should be amended to allow financial institutions to disclose information to third parties, such as law enforcement or adult safeguarding authorities, in limited and special circumstances where an individual’s financial safety might be compromised.   
  • Comprehensive Credit reporting - There are many types of credit reporting issues that may emerge when a customer is seeking to exit a financially abusive situation. These issues are complex yet require consistent and fair outcomes from the financial industry. The ABA supports development of industry wide guidance that outlines the expectations for credit providers, credit reporting bodies and other industry participants when dealing with matters relating to financial abuse. 
  • Abuse in banking transaction descriptions – Safety by Design principles - ABA member banks are considering incorporating aspects of the E-Safety Commissioner’s Safety by Design principles into the banking sectors commitment to have a process in place to identify and respond to abuse in banking transaction descriptions.  Banks have implemented a number of methods to limit abuse in transactions including updating terms and conditions to indicate that abuse will not be tolerated through digital payment channels and contacting senders of abuse messages directly with warning letters and phone calls.

Australian banks play a proactive role in identifying and assisting victim-survivors of financial abuse and will work further with the Federal Government on progressing these reforms. 

The ABA also supports the National Women’s Safety Alliance pledge to end gendered violence within a generation.


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