Bankwest is marking National Reconciliation Week with the launch of a regional awareness campaign for its critical Indigenous Customer Assistance Line (ICAL), with demand for the service more than tripling since launch.
ICAL is comprised of a team of Perth-based Contact Centre colleagues dedicated to providing better banking access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island customers, particularly those living in remote areas.
ICAL seeks to improve the financial wellbeing of Indigenous customers via three key processes: a culturally sensitive ID process; an alternative solution for failed ID checks; and Back Office Payment Transfers.
The service is critical in ensuring customers facing challenging circumstances such as domestic and financial abuse have independent access to funds, instead of having to potentially return to a harmful environment.
ICAL also creates options for remote customers, so they are not forced to travel hours to a Bankwest branch in the event of a failed ID check and, in some cases, can transfer money to a friend or family member for withdrawal.
Demand for the service was immediate, with about 1000 calls in the first six months from its launch in February 2020, however, that demand has since trebled, with more than 3000 enquiries handled in the past six months.
That increased demand has also resulted in the ICAL team expanding from two colleagues at launch, to 19 across Bankwest’s Contact Centre, ensuring customers in vulnerable situations receive critical and timely support.
However, despite the increasing demand, a regional visit to Newman by ICAL team leaders identified a lack of awareness of the service in some Aboriginal communities outside the town centre.
The leaders met with members of the community, including Martu Elders and Traditional Owners of the area, and government representatives to identify additional support services that ICAL could offer.
Bankwest has this week responded with a targeted campaign in the East Pilbara region to raise awareness of ICAL.
Bankwest Chief Operating Officer Louise Tovey said: “Bankwest has been part of the fabric of WA for more than 125 years, and we’re committed to supporting the communities in which we live and work, from the city to country.
“It isn’t fair, safe, or practical to require a customer to visit a branch due to a failed ID check when they live in a remote community or are attempting to flee a potentially dangerous situation and have no access to funds.
“Our ICAL leaders spoke with the operator of a domestic abuse shelter on their recent visit to the area around Newman, who told us the service had made a significant positive impact, especially during the pandemic.
“When our team met local community members, they explained they’d never had a bank reach out to them before, but once we described the services ICAL was already offering, they asked us to promote it further.
“That’s why we’ve invested in raising awareness for ICAL in these remote communities, because there are people experiencing hardship and financial pain-points that this service can help address.
“We know there are members of the community who sometimes require additional support to receive the same experiences and service as others, and we’re doing what we can to help ensure no Australian is left behind."
Bankwest’s vision is to deliver brilliant customer experiences every day and our purpose is to build a brighter future for all. Bankwest provides personal and business banking solutions for customers across Australia. Our customers enjoy access to an extensive network of branches and business centres, direct and third-party distribution channels, agencies and electronic banking facilities, as well as 24-hour banking on the telephone, internet and app. Bankwest, a division of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL/Australian credit license 234945.