We’re making digital banking safer to protect you from online abuse
Domestic and family violence can happen to anyone and cause you to live in fear. You may need help in protecting or strengthening your financial independence, managing your finances safely if and when you leave, or rebuilding for a secure long-term future.
Depending on your personal circumstances, we can help you:
- Change your online banking login details, password and PINs to help protect the security of your information. Please note this may not be appropriate in circumstances where a violent family member is controlling your finances using your details, and any change may be a threat to your safety.
- Change arrangements for anything we may need to send to you. For example, by nominating the mailing address of a trusted family member or PO Box. We can also arrange for any new debit or credit cards to be delivered for collection at your local branch.
Depending on your personal circumstances, we can help you:
- Remove or change your online banking access. Note that this may not be appropriate in circumstances where this could cause a risk to your personal safety.
- Cancel any additional credit cards. A ‘primary’ credit cardholder is liable for any outstanding balances. We can cancel any additional cards to avoid more debt being incurred. Please note that when a change is made, we are required to notify the primary cardholder of the change.
- Understand your power of attorney arrangement, if you have one. If you have revoked an existing power of attorney or appointed a new attorney, we will update our records accordingly.
We understand that any separation can be a time of financial difficulty. In some cases, financial worry can be a barrier to leaving a violent situation. Customers experiencing domestic and family violence who would like to discuss financial difficulty or concerns in relation to debts owed to the Westpac Group, including payment of joint loans, can call the Priority Assist team directly on 1800 063 509. The team will determine assistance on a case by case basis, which may include for example:
- Giving you time and space, for example varying loan repayments and / or extending terms for short term financial relief until you are able to discuss your longer-term plans.
- Reviewing your banking needs. For example, you might consider switching to a low rate credit card.
We can help you to work through your financial arrangements and separate them from your family member, where possible. We understand that gaining financial self-sufficiency can often be the difference between staying in or leaving a violent situation.
We can help you build your money management skills using the free learning resources available through Westpac’s Davidson Institute. You can also access a range of Money Health Calculators and Toolkits on the ASIC website.
In some cases, we may refer you to an independent and free financial counselling service. A financial counsellor can help you with your overall financial situation, advise you on what other benefits or support you might be entitled to, and refer you on to the appropriate family violence support services in your local area.
We have made digital banking safer for customers, including giving customers the ability to report abusive messages via online and mobile banking, and blocking inappropriate language from outgoing payments.
The changes have been introduced in response to the growing issue of digital payment channels being used as alternate messaging services to share abuse and threats via the description and reference fields in transactions.
To help protect both the sender and receiver, Westpac has made the following updates for payment transactions:
- Westpac is starting to roll out a new tool enabling customers to report abuse and harassment received in payments transaction descriptions.
- Customers will be able to click a report button within Westpac’s online and mobile banking platforms to have offensive messaging flagged and sent to a dedicated team for review and action.
- During the review process, Westpac will consider further action against abuse, such as warning the customer or notifying the sender’s financial institution.
- Westpac has deployed technology to monitor outgoing payments sent through its online and mobile banking platforms, which blocks certain transactions containing inappropriate or offensive language in real time.
- Customers will be notified if their outgoing transaction contains inappropriate language from a set list of terms and have their payment stopped. The language will need to be removed for the payment to be accepted and processed.
Westpac is also conducting advanced data analysis for both inbound and outbound payments to help detect more subtle threats and patterns of abuse in messages. If abusive behaviour is identified, it will be escalated to the support team for response.
Customers not acting in line with Westpac’s policy for acceptable behaviour will be warned and if necessary, exited from the bank.
You may be able to obtain free legal advice from a community legal centre or Legal Aid office in your state or territory. See ‘Legal and financial support’ in ‘Accessing other sources of information and support’ below.
- 1800 RESPECT provides access to telephone or online counselling, information on safety planning, and information on how to support someone who is experiencing domestic and family violence. Call 1800 737 732.
- Lifeline provides Australians experiencing a personal crisis with 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. Call 13 11 14.
- ACT – Domestic Violence Crisis Service – 02 6280 0900 (24/7)
- NSW – Domestic Violence Line – 1800 656 463 or 1800 671 442 (24/7)
- NT – Domestic Violence Crisis Line – 1800 019 116 (24/7)
- QLD – DV Connect Crisis Support – 1800 811 811 (24/7)
- SA – Women’s Safety Services – 1800 800 098 (24/7)
- TAS – Family Response and Referral Line – 1800 633 937 (24/7)
- VIC – Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre (24/7)
- WA – Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline – 1800 007 339 (24/7)
Additional Counselling support
- Relationships Australia provides support groups and counselling on relationships, and for abusive and abused partners. To be connected to the nearest Relationships Australia, call 1300 364 277.
- Aboriginal Family Domestic Violence Hotline. Victims Services has a dedicated contact line for Aboriginal victims of crime who would like information on victims’ rights, how to access counselling and financial assistance. Call 1800 019 123.
- The Victims Access Line provides free counselling and financial assistance for victims of crime. Call 1800 633 063 or the Aboriginal contact line on 1800 019 123.
- NSW – Family & Community Services Link2home Domestic Violence Line. Call 1800 656 463.
Legal and Financial Support
- National Debt Helpline – 1800 007 007
- Legal Aid NSW – 1300 888 259
- Legal Aid QLD – 1300 651 188
- Legal Aid VIC – 1300 792 387
- Legal Aid WA – 1300 650 579
- Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania – 1300 366 611
- Legal Services Commission of SA – 1300 366 424
- Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission – 1800 019 343
Support for Men
- Mensline Australia provides a free service offering national telephone and online support, information and referrals for men with family and relationship concerns. Call 1300 789 978.
Support for Children
- Child Protection Helpline – 132 111
- Kids Helpline. Free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25 in Australia. Call 1800 551 800.
- Australian Childhood Foundation. Counselling for children and young people affected by abuse. Call 1800 176 453 / 03 9874 3922.