Today, Bank Australia released its Statement of Commitment to take action on financial inclusion, as part of a national Financial Inclusion Action Plan (FIAP) program.
Bank Australia joins a group of 10 organisations who will lead the way on developing plans that will encourage a more financially inclusive society. The FIAP program is led by Good Shepherd Microfinance in collaboration with the Centre for Social Impact, and EY, with funding from the Australian Government.
As a customer owned bank we are committed to responding to issues of importance to our customers; and, in a recent survey, 69% of customers told us that tackling financial exclusion of marginalised people was important to them.
“Bank Australia has a rich history providing customers with access to fair and affordable financial products,” says Bank Australia Managing Director, Damien Walsh.
“However, we know we can always do more to act on issues that are important to our customers and which provide us with the opportunity to create mutual prosperity in line with our purpose.”
Work on the plan is already underway. Customer feedback and an initial review of our business identified a gap in options for fee free banking. In response, we will be introducing a new Basic Access Account on 1 July 2016, which is available to customers who are experiencing financial hardship and are in receipt of government benefits.
Conservatively, three million Australians are financially excluded, as a result they are more likely to face financial hardship, poverty and have poorer economic, social and health outcomes.
“We recognise that some people and communities are particularly vulnerable such as low income families, women experiencing family violence, the unemployed, elderly, people with disabilities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” said Damien.
“We also know however that any one of our customers may experience a change in circumstance and find themselves in a position of financial hardship.”
“Collaborating and learning from others to develop a plan for the bank will help us to meet the expectations of our customers to act on this issue and contribute to a more financially inclusive society,” said Damien.