Greens support call for overhaul of policies to prevent financial abuse

Australian Greens

The Greens support the recommendations from a new report calling for an overhaul of banking products and policies so that they aren’t used to cause further harm to victim-survivors.

As stated by Greens leader in the Senate and spokesperson on women Senator Larissa Waters

“This report shines a light on the invisible epidemic of financial abuse, and provides clear recommendations for the banking sector to prevent and minimise harm to victim-survivors.

“An astounding 13,000 customers contacted a bank over a twelve month period to advise them that they were experiencing family or domestic violence. Banks were often the first service victim-survivors disclose to.

“The Greens support the Centre for Women’s Economic Safety’s calls for the banking sector to review their operations to ensure that financial products like credit cards, mortgage payments and bank transfer descriptions can’t be weaponised.

“We saw this with early access to superannuation during Covid, where up to 70,000 women were coerced into withdrawing from their savings. It is imperative that banks recognise this risk.

“Blocking abusive or threatening payment or transfer messages is a great start. Banks also need to know how to identify red flags for financial abuse, act quickly on requests to separate accounts, and ensure victim survivors’ details aren’t shared with their abuser.

“Banks have an important role in not letting this abuse stay in the shadows. The report found that about 90 per cent of customers reported an end to the abuse after the perpetrator was contacted by the bank. This is the kind of harm reduction we’d like to see rolled out in every financial institution.

“The Greens call on the banks to commit to these reforms, and will push the government to introduce regulations or legislation to force them to consider ways to respond to financial abuse, including adverse credit reports against abusers, helping victim survivors with credit repair, and strengthening responsible lending practices.

“The Greens also call on the Government to ensure that the First Action Plan for the National Plan to End Violence Against Women includes clear targets to end economic abuse.”

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