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The lender has released its Financial Inclusion Action Plan (FIAP), a national program supported by Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand, the Australian government, EY and the Centre for Social Impact that is aimed at promoting economic wellbeing and financial inclusion.
Under CUA’s plan, the banking institution has committed more than $1 million in community investment to address vulnerability and reduce financial stress.
Among the initiative, the group is committing to focus on issues that contribute to financial stress, such as reducing financial abuse, helping Australians overcome barriers to home ownership, and lifting financial capability through online means.
CUA has said it will do this by:
- partnering with government and the private sector through the National Affordable Housing Consortium’s BuyAssist shared equity initiative and the Australian government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme to increase home ownership.
- Helping people learn the digital skills they need to confidently manage their money online through its Connected Future partnership with the Australian Red Cross and social enterprise Infoxchange;
- Helping members experiencing family violence, while extending support to community initiatives with Micah Projects in Brisbane and WIRE in Victoria to address financial abuse.
CUA CEO Paul Lewis said key FIAP commitments would make it easier for members to access support at times of financial stress and would boost funding for community organisations helping those at risk of financial exclusion.
“More than 3 million Australians are unable to access safe, affordable and appropriate financial services when they need them,” Mr Lewis said.
“Addressing the causes of financial exclusion requires a collaborative approach across government, industry and the community sector.
“Our FIAP strengthens and grows our existing partnerships dedicated to helping our members and communities secure their financial futures.”
He continued: “Financial inclusion is more important than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic had left many Australians financially vulnerable for the first time and also intensified challenges for those already facing significant social and economic barriers.”
Stella Avramopoulos, the Australia New Zealand CEO of Good Shepherd, welcomed the release of CUA’s plan.
“Financial stress can impact us all, at any stage in our lives. We know that access to appropriate financial products and services play a vital role in enhancing financial wellbeing, and therefore it is critical to remove the barriers that can exist for those who are financially excluded,” she said.
“CUA is demonstrating leadership and ongoing commitment by developing a FIAP and has joined an important Australia-wide movement that will create improved social and economic benefits for the community.”
[Related: CUA launches financial accelerator program]