Westpac NZ eases banking for youth in care

Empowering youth banking

Westpac NZ eases banking for youth in care

Westpac NZ has updated its processes to help young people in care open bank accounts more easily, following a successful pilot with Oranga Tamariki and VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai.

Streamlined banking for youth

Westpac NZ has announced changes to make it easier for young people in care to open bank accounts.

Louisa Brock (pictured above), Westpac NZ manager for customer vulnerability and financial inclusion, highlighted the difficulties these youths face, such as needing consent from a parent or guardian and challenges with verifying identity and address.

“Input from a wide range of people has been required to support both Oranga Tamariki and the banking industry to remove the barriers to opening accounts for young people in care – it really has been a together greater approach,” Brock said.

New processes implemented

The new process allows young people aged 15-17 in the care of Oranga Tamariki to open accounts without needing parental consent.

They can now use standard ID or a birth certificate as primary identification, with a letter from Oranga Tamariki as secondary ID/proof of address.

“We’re committed to improving outcomes for our young people and I’m really pleased we’ve now got to this point,” Brock said.

See LinkedIn post here.

Support from stakeholders

The initiative, which began discussions in 2018, received support from The Tindall Foundation and ToitÅ« Tahua – Centre for Sustainable Finance.

Brock expressed gratitude for their support and the direct input from care-experienced individuals through VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai.

“We hope these processes can now become standard across the industry,” she said.

Expanding to other banks

Kiri Milne, Oranga Tamariki general Manager, Voices of Children and Young People, stated that Oranga Tamariki is now in talks with other banks to ensure their processes are also accessible for young people in care.

“We want young people in care to have a choice of bank, like their peers,” Milne said.

Empowering young people

Tupua Urlich, national care experienced lead at VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, shared his personal experience on the importance of financial access.

“For years I depended on it to maintain communication with my sister who lived in a different part of the country. Having a bank account and knowing how to use it, and how money works are such important things to have,” Urlich said.

Positive feedback and future initiatives

Feedback from Oranga Tamariki social workers and young people has been positive.

Brock said the initiative is part of Westpac’s Extra Care programme, which includes other supportive measures like a gambling block service, an interpreting service, and improved access to basic banking services for those facing bankruptcy.

Westpac NZ continues to work with the Department of Corrections to facilitate bank account openings for prisoners nearing release.

“We are continuing to work hard to improve access to banking in Aotearoa,” Brock said.

Read the Westpac NZ media release here.

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