Victims of financial abuse, now have an avenue to safely disclose financial abuse to bank staff who are trained to identify financial abuse victims and act to support them.
The Australian Banking Association has developed a new guideline on how bank staff can be more aware of the impacts of domestic violence and understand how to help customers.
ABA Executive Director – Retail Policy Diane Tate said the guideline recognises that banks don’t need legal evidence of domestic violence, such as an Apprehended Violence Order, to be able to offer assistance to customers.
“Banks should ensure they can offer flexible hardship arrangements to customers who could be managing debts jointly with an ex-partner, and that they can fast track this help,” Ms Tate said.
“Customers affected by domestic violence can experience abuse of their finances, such as being forced to take out a credit card or loan in their name, or having money taken from their account without their knowledge or consent.”
The guideline also includes information on staff training to identify the signs of financial abuse to better support customers, (and their employees) who may be impacted by domestic violence.
“It can be very difficult for customers to disclose the abuse,” say the guidelines, so bank staff are expected to be sensitive to the emotional stress of people who may be dealing with financial abuse.
This also includes people in current relationships, that may be presenting together at a branch to apply for a loan or other product.
It is no longer necessary to provide evidence of the abuse or copies of intervention orders, apprehended violence orders or family court settlements to the bank before they will help you.
To date a number of banks have developed campaigns to ensure victims of Domestic Violence have all the information they need to get support including:
A copy of the guideline is available here.