Commonwealth Bank has joined forces with Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) to enhance the skills of financial counsellors in identifying and understanding the impact of economic abuse in domestic and family violence.
FCA announced today at its national conference that Commonwealth Bank will provide $400,000 to train financial counsellors across Australia to assist people affected by domestic and family violence. Commonwealth Bank has also pledged $500,000 to the Jan Pentland Foundation to fund 10 scholarships annually for the next 10 years for people to study financial counselling.
Commonwealth Bank Group Executive of Retail Banking Services, Matt Comyn, said: “Commonwealth Bank is committed to ending domestic and family violence in a generation. While we have a significant role to play, we can’t do it alone. Since 2015, we have undertaken wide industry and community consultation to better understand how financial abuse contributes to domestic and family violence. This consultation led us to develop an approach focused on responding to customers in crisis and promoting the financial independence of women.
“We have introduced domestic and family violence training and toolkits for our employees, and we have enhanced systems to help customers in crisis. We also recognise the invaluable role of financial counsellors in providing frontline support. Our work with FCA and support of this important initiative will strengthen counsellor skills, which in turn will make an important contribution to the prevention of, and response to, domestic and family violence,” Mr Comyn said.
Fiona Guthrie, CEO of Financial Counselling Australia, said: “Helping clients affected by domestic and family violence requires specific skills and knowledge. This funding means we can provide practical, face-to-face training to financial counsellors in cities, and in rural and remote areas. We have never been able to do anything of this nature before, so this is truly ground-breaking.
“The cost of studying to become a financial counsellor can be a barrier for many people, so the funding to the Jan Pentland Foundation will create a new generation of financial counsellors.
“We look forward to working with Commonwealth Bank to keep improving the way we help the most vulnerable people in society. Ending domestic and family violence is a shared goal, and our collaboration will make a meaningful difference.”
Commonwealth Bank’s response to domestic and family violence covers five key areas: providing a safe place to work; supporting our customers in crisis; championing gender equality; promoting financial wellbeing and education; and publicly advocating for change. This is supported by the Bank’s continued commitment to financial wellbeing and gender equality in recognition that existing disparities between men and women in both areas can affect domestic and family violence. These initiatives fall under the Bank’s corporate responsibility plan, Opportunity Initiatives.
FCA is the peak body for financial counsellors in Australia. Financial counsellors are qualified professionals who provide advice to people experiencing financial difficulty. Financial counselling services are free, independent and confidential.
If you are experiencing financial difficulty you can speak to a free, independent financial counsellor by ringing the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007. Locations for face-to-face financial counselling services are here.
About Financial Counselling Australia (FCA)
FCA is the peak body for financial counsellors in Australia. FCA's role is to support the financial counselling profession, providing a voice in national debates. They also advocate on behalf of the clients of financial counsellors for a fairer marketplace that will prevent financial problems in the first place. FCA is a federated body and its members are each State and Territory financial counselling association in Australia.
About the Jan Pentland Foundation
The Jan Pentland Foundation was established to commemorate the contribution of financial counselling champion Jan Pentland and provides scholarships to cover the training costs of new financial counsellors. Based on current costs, the donation will help to fund up to 10 scholarships per year over the next 10 years.