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Westpac welcomes opportunity to participate in National Summit for Women’s Safety

6 September 2021

 

Westpac welcomes the opportunity to participate in this week’s National Summit on Women's Safety and the advisory group on the development of Australia’s next 12-year National Plan to end violence against women and children.
 

The National Summit for Women’s Safety is an important step towards finalising the next National Plan, due for release next year.
 

Catherine Fitzpatrick, Westpac Director of Customer Vulnerability & Financial Resilience, and speaker at the Summit, said: “Many organisations are making changes to help stop domestic violence and financial abuse, and importantly, have taken practical steps that prevent their technology from being misused to abuse.”
 

“Earlier this year, Westpac introduced changes that give customers the ability to report abusive messages via online and mobile banking, and proactively block inappropriate language from outgoing payments. Since then, we have required tens of thousands of customers to change, in real time, payment descriptions with inappropriate language, sent warning letters and when necessary, reported offenders to law enforcement.
 

“We also created a safe space within our app for customers to report concerns, which we then investigate and take action as needed. We can then arrange for customers to talk to a specialist customer care representative who can help them set up safe banking and accounts, away from their abusers.
 

“These specialist vulnerability teams have supported almost 40,000 vulnerable customers over the past 12 months, with around a third relating to domestic violence and financial abuse. After scams and hardship, this is the biggest issue of vulnerability our customers face.  
 

“As the online environment evolves, the ways in which women and children can be abused is expanding, COVID has only exacerbated this issue. What’s important here is that banks can see the threats, harassment and intimidation in payments and can put a stop to it, making online banking safer,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.
 

Westpac is the only corporate member of the Federal Government’s 19-member National Plan Advisory Group, with members offering diverse perspectives and expert advice, with a view to end family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia.
 

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au.


For more on the National Summit for Women’s Safety, WIRE has published an opinion column by Catherine Fitzpatrick, Director Customer Vulnerability & Financial Resilience, Westpac.


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Sharon Rockell
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