Teachers push back on banks
After decades of Dollarmites, teachers now want big banks out of their classrooms.
The Australian Education Union (AEU) says in-school banking programs allow banks to sign up new customers from an early age, making an important choice for them that they often keep for a lifetime.
“There's no place for private corporations to go into schools and try and trap children into banking with them for the long-term future,” AEU president Correna Haythorpe said this week.
“These programs need to be delivered by teachers.”
The AEU has written to Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan about the issue and wants it raised at the next COAG Education Council meeting too.
At the same time, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is running a review of school banking and how banks market to children.
ASIC will investigate the “stickiness” of such schemes, with current stats suggesting over two thirds of kids will become lifetime customers of that bank.
“Our concern is that some people are perhaps complacent,” ASIC senior executive leader Laura Higgins said.
“Are they looking at the products and saying; ‘Is this the best product for me?’, or; ‘Is this my emotional attachment to my school banking provider?’”
Several banks run in-school schemes, but the best-known is Commonwealth Bank’s Dollarmites program.
However, Dollarmites has been plagued by scandal after it was revealed that Commonwealth Bank staff had made fraudulent deposits into children's accounts to boost sales targets.
Some parents say they want such schemes to help teach children the value of money, especially in an increasingly digital era.
ASIC’s senior executive leader of financial capability, Laura Higgins, says many children do appreciate the value of money in a digitised world
“This isn't a problem for them,” Ms Higgins said.
“They really understand that digital world and understand the value of things and the value of money, whether that's experienced through some sort of game or other sort of exposure to digital apps.”
She said children should understand their relationship with banks, but it is also just about savings habits.
“We need to understand the kind of documents that exchange hands, what our responsibilities are and what our rights are as consumers,” Ms Higgins said.
“Banking does not exist in the way it did when we were growing up. It is not about going in to a local branch and knowing the person behind the counter and handing over coins in an envelope.
“People still have those experiences but it's one small part. We need to understand the fine print, we need to understand if this is the best product for us. We need to understand choice and how to problem solve and how to ask the right questions.”