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Westpac acting on women’s safety

22 November 2022

Westpac has given its backing to a new report by the Centre for Women’s Economic Safety and will take action on key recommendations.

The detection and prevention of financial abuse is a priority for the bank and Westpac has already acted in key areas recommended by the Centre for Women’s Economic Safety. These include:

  • 48,000+ transactions blocked containing abusive messages.
  • Account terms and conditions have been adjusted to include reference to abusive transactions.
  • Our Gambling Block feature helps customers plan and manage their personal credit and debit card spend by preventing the authorisation of gambling transactions.
  • Product and design distribution processes are being improved to include Safety by Design principles, allowing more robust discussions about safeguarding our customers’ interests and taking action to prevent harm or misuse.
  • Building stronger considerations of fairness and customer vulnerability into existing processes.

“We’ve been working for several years on helping prevent financial abuse and protecting our customers in vulnerable circumstances”, said Westpac’s General Manager, Customer Solutions, Lisa Pogonoski.

“This report shines a light on the issue and demonstrates why it must remain at the forefront for the entire industry. At Westpac, we’ve already acted on key recommendations and will accelerate steps to consider other areas identified for action.”

Westpac endorses the report’s findings, and has already acted on the following key principles:

  • A bank account is no place for abuse
  • Financial abuse has serious serious impacts on victim-survivors
  • Customers who misuse products and services will be warned or exited from the bank
  • In some circumstances, their tactics will be reported to law enforcement

Today, Westpac is committing to further consideration of the report’s other findings, including:

  • Ensuring terms and conditions reflect our no tolerance approach to financial abuse.
  • As Chair of the Australian Banking Association, Westpac will encourage consideration of an industry-wide commitment to a financial Safety by Design framework.

“We commend Rebecca Glenn and Westpac’s former Customer Vulnerability Director Catherine Fitzpatrick for their work on this vitally important issue. Westpac will use the report to continue to improve the way we detect and prevent cases of financial abuse,” Ms Pogonoski said.

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