People with disabilities vulnerable to financial abuse

An ANZ-commissioned study has revealed that people living with disability are vulnerable to financial and digital abuse.

Commissioned by ANZ, the 2017 MoneyMinded Impact Report from RMIT University has found that people with disability may lack opportunities to develop their financial capabilities and wellbeing because of lower digital inclusion, lower participation rates in education and the workforce, and lower levels of socialisation.

The report also noted that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) could present further challenges to people with disability as they may be exploited by “unscrupulous service providers”.

A companion study, published by RMIT University and Autism CRC, reported that autistic individuals (and their careers, in particular) face financial challenges “over and above” those of other families.

CEO of Autism CRC Andrew Davis stressed the need for greater awareness of the financial obstacles faced by people with autism.

“We need to have a stronger understanding of the financial barriers faced by autistic individuals, including how neurodiversity affects their financial wellbeing,” Mr Davis said.

“What we do know is that if autistic individuals are not given the opportunity to develop their financial skills and confidence, they are less likely to be able to live as independent consumers and develop the capability to identify financial opportunities and risks.”

Professor Roslyn Russell, principal research fellow at RMIT, also explained that in order to prevent abuse and exploitation, the community must identify the varied needs of people with disability, as some conditions require more attention than others.

“Those with cognitive and intellectual difficulties may have more complex challenges in using and understanding money.

“But everyone, regardless of their ability, should be given support to learn and participate in financial decisions that are appropriate to their goals.”

In response to the 2017 MoneyMinded Impact Report, chief executive officer of ANZ Shayne Elliot highlighted the importance of the study and called for adequate programs that will help people with disability make better financial decisions.

“This is an important study that helps us understand the nature and scale of the challenges some people with disability face in our community,” the CEO said.

“Through community programs like MoneyMinded, we can help provide access to financial education so people with disability and their carers can make better financial decisions and have confidence with everyday transactions that many of us take for granted.

“We will continue to invest in improving the financial literacy of communities in which we operate. In 2017, we’re happy to have reached more than 76,000 people in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific with MoneyMinded.”

[Related: Customers happier with digital banking experience]

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Charbel Kadib

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