Australian banks to use Israeli model in supporting victims of domestic violence

June 1, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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AUSTRAC has changed its rules allowing victims of domestic violence more flexibility with their banking requirements following an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce women’s trade mission.

Jillian Segal

AUSTRAC is the Australian Government agency responsible for detecting, deterring and disrupting criminal abuse of the financial system to protect the community from serious and organised crime.

Jillian Segal, Chair of Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (NSW) said: “The AICC is thrilled to have been the bridge that brought to the Australian Banking system the model of the Bank of Israel’s banking compact to facilitate support for victims of domestic and family violence to the Australian banking system.”

The initiative was an outcome of the 2018 Women Leaders Trade Mission to Israel attended by 30 women leaders from across the business, government and education sectors.

The CEO of the AICC (NSW) Michelle Blum told J-Wire: “During our meeting with the Bank of Israel the group, which included senior banking executives and former regulators, were impressed with the framework that the Bank of Israel had created with the commercial banks to enable financial products to be adapted to the needs of victims of domestic violence.

Michelle Blum

Upon our return,  the AICC convened a working group with the four major banks in Australia who agreed to fund a project and work together to see if this framework could be implemented in Australia. We are delighted that the Bank of Israel’s innovative model has provided the inspiration for last week’s AUSTRAC announcement of its changed customer ID rules which will give bank staff appropriate flexibility when assisting domestic violence victims with their financial requirements.

We are also pleased that the Australian Banking Association (ABA) has now taken over this work and will continue working with Australian regulators to provide additional initiatives in this space.”

As an example of the methods used by The Bank of Israel, it established special arrangements to allow commercial bank staff flexibility in using alternative methods for verifying a customer’s identity when a victim is fleeing a violent situation and they are too scared to return to collect their personal papers (or their papers are held deliberately by the perpetrator). Without these documents, it is difficult for a victim to create a bank account or arrange credit, all of which is important for them in establishing their financial independence.

State Liberal MP Gabrielle Upton moved a motion in the NSW Parliament that it recognises the significant role of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce in delivering the change, drawing on the Bank of Israel’s model of support for domestic violence victims and congratulates Jillian Segal, Jillian Broadbent and AICC CEO Michelle Blum for championing this important reform since it was raised during my attendance on the 2018 AICC Women Leaders Trade Mission to Israel.

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