Access to banking services for remote communities in Kimberley discussed at the meeting
Residents of remote communities travel 400 kilometers round trip just to access key cards as solutions are sought to financial and banking problems in the bush.
- Lack of access to banking services in remote communities in Kimberley was discussed at the meeting
- Some people travel hundreds of miles to access essential banking services
- Banks recognize accessibility challenges faced in remote Indigenous communities
Financial regulators, advocacy organizations, banking representatives and an indigenous society met in hopes of improving access to banking services in remote Kimberley communities.
A roundtable held this week was part of an initiative by the community organization Broome Circle to draw the attention of the banking sector to the financial problems faced by people in remote indigenous communities.
Djarindjin Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Nathan McIvor said Aboriginal people in remote communities struggled to access basic banking services.
“For example, we have staff in Djarindjin who have to travel 200 kilometers to Broome just to help someone access a key card and then get home,” he said.
“We can’t do this over the phone because a lot of these older people don’t talk to people on the phone, they find it very difficult to understand who’s on the other side of the line.”
Mr McIvor said a representative on behalf of the banks could be stationed in remote communities to answer financial questions and concerns.
“Centrelink has agents in communities, as does Australia Post,” he said.
“So I wouldn’t see any reason why there couldn’t be a cashier or a bank officer… in the community who can answer questions that people have.”
Look for solutions
Broome Circle financial adviser Veronica Johnson said she wanted a positive conversation with the banking industry about the issues facing remote communities.
“What it was about today was basically all the banks listening to all the good things that were happening and what good things could be embraced,” she said.
But she said there were a number of issues that needed to be addressed in order to bring basic banking services to remote communities.
“They don’t have internet, they don’t have enough credit on their phones [for internet and phone banking] and I think the banks need to get on board and visit to see what it looks like,” she said.
“There needs to be more banks on the ground traveling, seeing how people live in communities, more thinking outside the box, more collaboration between banks.”
More regular meetings
Representatives from NAB, Commonwealth, ANZ, Westpac, the Australian Consumer Competition Commission and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission attended virtually.
Financial Counseling Australia, the Financial Counselors Association of Western Australia and the Australian Financial Complaints Authority also participated online.
Representatives from banks and regulators acknowledged the issues faced by Indigenous people living in remote Kimberley communities.
Some agreed to bring the issues raised to the leadership of their organizations and offer possible solutions for the next meeting scheduled in three months.
Ms Johnson said she wanted to see all representatives meet in person for the next round of talks and meet people in remote communities to hear what they had to say.
“I really hope the next meeting can be in person with some of these people who were online today virtually,” Ms Johnson said.
“It would be my biggest wish, that they could come and visit these communities – maybe starting with the Djardjin community.”