Australia's big four banks provide different levels of support for people in domestic violence crisis.
Australia's big four banks provide different levels of support for people in domestic violence crisis.

How the banks can help you leave an abusive partner

Secrets revealed: Customers of NAB, ANZ, Commbank and Westpac have access to a range of domestic violence support options when facing financial crisis, writes journalist SHERELE MOODY.

SPECIAL REPORT: The bank giving domestic violence survivors their lives back

AUSTRALIA'S major financial institutions copped an absolute hammering during the Banking Royal Commission.

The outcome was so troubling that royal commissioner Kenneth Hayne put forward a whopping 76 recommendations designed to fix flaws across the banking, superannuation and financial advice industries.

It was a sobering moment for the industry and there is no doubt that significant changes must be made to protect Australian consumers.

As the dust settles and the banking sector comes to grips with the outcomes of Justice Haynes's report, it is easy to lose sight of the one thing the big four banks are doing right - their response to survivors of domestic violence.

Last year, I spent a day inside the National Australia Bank's hardship office.

It was an eye-opening experience watching the team members deal with heart-breaking phone calls from ordinary Australians experiencing the extraordinary impacts of one of our country's major social justice issues - domestic and family violence.

The surprising thing is, most people do not realise that the NAB, and its competitors ANZ, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac have supports in place to ensure the financial well-being of people experiencing violence.

Here is a brief overview of the help available for women and men leaving abuse.

NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK

  • NAB's Family Violence Assistance Grants of $2500 are for customers with credit cards, personal loans and/or mortgages and needing financial assistance to leave violent living situation. The grants can be turned around within 24 hours and help with rent, bond or other reasonable expenses.
  • Connection to Uniting Kildonan's CareRing program to provide emotional support and help accessing other programs.
  • Access to Good Shepherd Microfinance's No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) and StepUP loans to cover the purchase of household goods and services.
  • Setting up a transaction account not listed on internet banking
  • Changing passwords and PINs.
  • A break from payments or reduced payments for a period of time.
  • More time to catch up on missed payments.
  • Restructure of the loan facility.
  • Refund of interest and fees.
  • A partial or total waiver of the debt (in some cases).
  • Splitting of joint debt is currently done on a case-by-case basis.
  • Paid leave and other support for NAB staff experiencing abuse.  

DETAILS: www. nab.com.au/endtoviolence

COMMONWEALTH BANK

  • The CBA Domestic and Family Violence Assistance Program includes access to independent specialist trauma counsellors.
  • Customers may also be referred to programs, like Fitted for Work, a specialist employment service for women.
  • Financial support that may cover bonds and other immediate costs.
  • A dedicated Financial Assistance Solutions team considers every request for assistance on an individual basis and work with customers to develop a solution that's right for them.
  • CBA employees have domestic violence leave provisions of 10 days leave for employees living in a domestic violence situation and five days leave for those caring for family members who are experiencing domestic violence.

DETAILS: www.commbank.com.au/dv-assistance

WESTPAC

  • Hardship assistance can be provided with the aim of assisting cash flow, including for joint account holders.
  • For unsecured loans, Westpac may be able to introduce debt waivers, reduced interest and/or reduced payments and longer term arrangements.
  • For secured loans, the bank works with each customer to explore options to create an affordable payment so they can stay in their home.
  • Assistance may include a review of interest rates, term extension, or reduced or suspended payments.
  • If staying in the home is not an option, Westpac may assist by supporting relocation services.
  • Westpac also supports its employees who are impacted by domestic family violence which includes counselling, paid leave, accommodation and hardship grants.  

DETAILS:  www.westpac.com.au/about-westpac/sustainability/our-positions-and-perspectives/difficult-circumstances/experiencing-family-violence/

ANZ

  • ANZ has centralized management of all vulnerable customers, including survivors of domestic violence and has a team of specialists to handle these situations.
  • Its CareRing service has a specific support program for survivors of domestic violence. The bank refers vulnerable customers to the service and funds those referrals.
  • Assists mortgage customers with relocation costs if they cannot afford to service their loan, including getting them into a rental by paying their bond and first few months of rent and any transportation costs.
     

DETAILS: www.anz.com/about-us/corporate-sustainability/microsite/anz-financial-hardship/self-help/
 

News Corp journalist Sherele Moody has multiple journalism excellence awards for her work highlighting violence in Australia. Sherele is also a 2019 Our Watch fellow and the founder of The RED HEART Campaign and the Australian Femicide & Child Death Map. Sherele's trip to Melbourne was paid for by NAB.

*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732. If you are experiencing mental health problems, phone Lifeline on 13 11 44.

News Corp Australia

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