This article is from the second issue of CommBank's magazine, Brighter.
The numbers speak for themselves: about 40 per cent of the adult population has experienced or knows someone who has been subjected to financial abuse – it’s one of the most common forms of domestic violence and control. “It’s a widespread issue that can have devastating consequences,” says Sian Lewis, CommBank’s group executive, human resources. Signs may include being denied money for basic expenses, needing to justify all spending or being forced to take out debts in your name.
CommBank Next Chapter is a company-wide commitment to help end financial abuse and support people on their road to recovery. “Through our support of the Financial Independence Hub, we’ve helped more than 4000 victim-survivors of financial abuse move forward and rebuild their financial independence,” says Sian. Here are some of the ways they’ve done that…
Offering support to all
If you’re worried about your finances because of domestic violence or control, the Next Chapter Team can connect anyone in Australia who calls (no matter their bank) with specialist crisis support, programs to help you get back on your feet (like Fitted for Work) and the Financial Independence Hub, a partnership with Good Shepherd that offers one-on-one conversations about money, working alongside a financial coach to gain confidence with money, such as budgeting, sorting through bills and debt and referrals to other support services.
Taking care of customers
For CommBank customers impacted by financial abuse, the Next Chapter Team delivers all of the above and is also able to provide confidential support with immediate banking needs, helping people to secure their bank accounts and any support needed to get your credit rating restored.
Breaking new ground
Understanding the different methods used by perpetrators of financial abuse prompted the development of leading technology. Over the past year, more than 458,000 abusive messages in transaction descriptions have been blocked through NetBank and the CommBank app. “We developed a machine-learning model that searches the phrases used in transaction descriptions to identify potential patterns of abusive behaviour,” says Sian. The Next Chapter Team then assesses the best next steps, such as setting up a safe account, while perpetrators may lose their access to electronic banking.
Contact the Financial Independence Hub on 1300 050 150.
To learn more, visit: commbank.com.au/nextchapter
Story by Sarah Marinos.
Read more articles from Brighter magazine.