Financial assistance can change lives

The digitisation of financial services has made banking more accessible than it has ever been. Sadly, more than two billion adults around the world still lack access to financial help.

"Access to safe and affordable financial services – or financial inclusion – is vital to help individuals and communities improve their livelihoods."
Fred Ohlsson, Group Executive Australia, ANZ

Access to safe and affordable financial services – or financial inclusion – is vital to help individuals and communities improve their livelihoods.

In Australia, financial exclusion is a real economic and social problem. Research shows up to three million Australians don’t have access to basic financial services, impacting the decisions they make for themselves and their families.

It could be they have limited access to reliable services and technology, or lack the literacy and numeracy skills to understand what’s appropriate for them.

When safe and affordable banking and credit options seem out of reach, it can make unregulated ‘payday’ loans seem very tempting, often making difficult financial situations worse.

People whose families are in crisis are also at higher risk of experiencing financial exclusion. Research shows 80 per cent to 90 per cent of women who seek support from domestic violence services have also experienced financial abuse.

By helping improve financial literacy, we can empower individuals to take control of their lives and take steps to protect themselves and their children.

Solving this problem would not just help those affected, but the economy as a whole. Studies show if just 7 per cent of Australia’s excluded improved their financial position, Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) could increase by a $A19.7 billion.

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The financial services sector has a responsibility to play a role in improving lives by reducing financial exclusion.

To better understand the issue, ANZ has sought the advice of anti-domestic violence campaigner and former Australian of the Year Rosie Batty,who is working with the bank to ensure vulnerable people get the help they need.

ANZ now offers access to specialised hardship services for customers and is helping to develop skills and confidence around managing money issues for people experiencing or at risk of family violence.  

With its community partners ANZ has developed programs like Saver Plus, MoneyMinded and MoneyBusiness which have helped more than 390,000 people in Australia improve their lives through better money management.

More control over their finances, higher savings and increased confidence are among the positive outcomes for people who participate. Importantly, these positive outcomes for individuals have been shown to result in wider benefits for their families and the communities in which they live.

ANZ has also officially signed on to support the Financial Inclusion Action Plan program. Led by Good Shepherd Microfinance, ANZis taking the opportunity to build on its work to date and do more to promote and support financial inclusion.

I’m proud ANZ has been working to support better financial inclusion for vulnerable Australians more than a decade. The bank’s partnerships with the Brotherhood of St LaurenceBerry Street, the Smith Family, the Benevolent Society ensure this commitment to help millions of Australians make better decisions for themselves, their families and their communities every day.

Fred Ohlsson is Group Executive Australia at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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