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Thousands helped by banks’ inclusion programs

21 March 2018

Thousands of vulnerable Australians, from newly arrived refugees to customers experiencing domestic violence, have been helped by Australia’s banks as they roll out new programs aimed at improving access to financial products and increasing financial literacy.

Budgeting workshops, assistance setting up bank accounts and obtaining low cost, fast online loans are just a few of the initiatives delivered by banks.

‘Financial inclusion’ was determined to be a goal of the most recent G20 meeting and is spearheaded by Good Shepherd Microfinance.

Speaking at the Financial Inclusion Action Plan Program event today, Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh said the results showed the trial was a success and was assisting thousands of people across the country.

“Starting a bank account, obtaining a loan for a fridge and other basic financial needs can be foreign to some in our community, such as newly arrived refugees and the long term homeless,” Ms Bligh said.

“As good corporate citizens it’s important banks play their part in ensuring vulnerable people are included in our financial system and are given the support they need.

“Thousands of Australia’s most vulnerable have been assisted through these pilot programs run by NAB, ANZ, Westpac, the Commonwealth Bank, Bank Australia and Suncorp.

“As we move forward it’s the goal of the ABA to increase the cooperation between banks on this important initiative, and consider the role of technology in financial inclusion,” she said.

Australia’s four major banks, Bank Australia and Suncorp have helped thousands of customers, with key results from the trial including:

  • Commonwealth Bank’s assistance program supporting more than 600 newly arrived refugees, opening bank accounts and holding orientation sessions.
  • NAB has provided support to develop and launch Speckle, cheap, fast online cash loans from Good Shepherd Microfinance.
  • Suncorp’s “Essentials by AAI” insurance has been taken up by more than 1,000 people on low incomes.
  • The Salvation Army, with support from the Westpac Group, delivers the “You’re The Boss”, financial well-being program. You’re the Boss supports people experiencing financial challenges to better manage their money and debt. Throughout 2016-17, almost 1,800 people attended workshops and 87.5 per cent of participants reported they made a change, following the program, to improve their financial situation.
  • Recognising that for some customers it can be difficult to talk about their financial issues, Westpac Group was the first bank in Australia to offer customers the option of negotiating payment arrangements through online banking.
  • ANZ’s MoneyMinded workshops reached 49,306 people in 2017 and a further 1,268 completed the program online.
  • Bank Australia has run budgeting and savings workshops for 27 Big Issue vendors in Adelaide and Brisbane, with plans to run workshops nationally. One vendor said, “That for me so far has been the most informative, insightful and educational budgeting workshop I’ve personally been involved with attending.”

“The ABA congratulates the banks involved and looks forward to the programs expanding across the finance sector,” Ms Bligh said.

ENDS
Contact: Rory Grant 0475 741 007

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