Bankwest has reaffirmed its commitment to advocating against financial abuse, with its full range of deposit product terms and conditions updated to enable the closure of accounts used to perpetrate the offence.
Financial abuse is a form of Family and Domestic Violence characterised by a perpetrator using money to gain power or control over another person, usually a family member or someone with whom they are in a relationship.
The silent scourge can present in examples such as someone restricting another person’s access to funds they have a right to access, thereby limiting independence or an ability to escape an abusive situation.
Perpetrators can also use transfers to commit financial abuse, performing micro payments – as little as one cent – to deliver abusive comments to a victim in the transaction narration, bypassing blocks on messaging services.
Bankwest began updating its terms and conditions to include scope to close accounts for financial abuse in late 2020, recently completing the amendments to Term Deposits to finalise the changes across all deposit offerings.
The amendment to the terms and conditions was a recommendation from a financial abuse roundtable held earlier in the year in which Bankwest participated and in a discussion paper by the Centre for Women’s Economic Safety.
The CWES recommended banks commit to terms and conditions that “make it clear that a bank account is no place for abuse”, and that committing financial abuse could lead to account closures and/or police intervention.
Bankwest’s amendments to its terms and conditions to include scope to close accounts in instances in which “we reasonably consider there has been unsatisfactory behaviour or account operation”, including harassment.
Bankwest General Manager Products and Digital Services Peter Bouhlas said: “Bankwest has been supporting Australians for 128 years and we’re committed to being there for customers when they need us.
“Financial institutions are often among the first contacted by victim-survivors of Family and Domestic Violence and financial abuse, which is why Bankwest is committed to raising awareness for this silent scourge.
“Completing these changes across our deposit products provides colleagues with a mechanism to act on abusive behaviour and protect victims, including engaging with authorities to ensure perpetrators are held to account.
“Bankwest has specialist teams and colleagues trained to support customers who find themselves in vulnerable circumstances and I encourage anyone concerned about their situation to get in touch with us if it’s safe to do so."
Bankwest’s vision is to be a simple, easy bank for the Australian homeowner of today and tomorrow, and our purpose is to build a brighter future for all. Bankwest provides personal and everyday banking solutions for customers across Australia. We support customers in doing their banking in the ways that suit them, with innovative digital solutions, an Australia-based 24/7 Contact Centre, a passionate broker community, and our WA branch network. Bankwest is a division of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL/Australian credit license 234945.