COTA calls for government action to ensure banking access for all Australians

CEO highlights the need for banks to honour code

COTA calls for government action to ensure banking access for all Australians

COTA Australia is calling on the Federal Government to take action to guarantee Australians access to banking services across the country. The call comes in response to a new report by the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Reference Senate Committee, which aims to safeguard the future of regional banking.

Patricia Sparrow (pictured), CEO of COTA Australia, praised the report’s recommendations and stressed the need for the government to implement them immediately. These recommendations include recognising financial services as essential and ensuring that all major banks have agreements with Bank@Post.

“We welcome the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Reference Committee’s report into protecting the future of regional banking, particularly recommendations that the Australian Government urgently develop a mandatory Banking Code of Conduct or Customer Service Code that would see financial institutions required to undertake meaningful consultation with communities and prepare a comprehensive report on the impact any bank closure would have on the local community,” said Sparrow.

She highlighted the importance of banking services to all Australians, especially those who rely on over-the-counter transactions.

“Hundreds of thousands of Australians have no ATM card and for a variety of reasons they need to conduct their banking over the counter. As banking systems evolve and we’re seeing swathes of banks closing, we need to make sure banks can’t leave these vulnerable customers behind in a digital focused future,” Sparrow added.

Sparrow emphasized that a mandatory Banking Code of Conduct should ensure the continuation of over-the-counter services and the development of alternatives like Bank@Post.

“Requiring banks to do a little bit more to support these vulnerable customers, and developing alternative solutions like over the counter at Bank@Post, will ensure all Australians can continue to access their money,” she said.

COTA Australia concluded its statement with an emphasis on the importance of ensuring vulnerable groups have access to banking services.

“This report, if adopted by Government, would help ensure that older people, other vulnerable people and people living in regional and rural areas could continue to have essential banking services,” said Sparrow.

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