Finance Finance News School banking programs to be banned in Canberra from July

School banking programs to be banned in Canberra from July

The Commonwealth Bank has run programs in schools since 1931, and dominates the school banking market. Photo: Reddit
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School banking programs, like Commonwealth Bank’s Dollarmites program, will be banned from ACT schools from July, after a motion was unanimously passed in the Legislative Assembly yesterday afternoon.

A review of the financial programs by ASIC last year concluded they do little to help students.

The banking regulator said the programs did not improve money-saving behaviour among students, and the objective of the banks in running these programs was in gaining new customers.

ACT Greens MLA Johnathan Davis, who introduced the motion, said banks were using sophisticated advertising tactics on vulnerable consumers.

“Corporations have no place in our public education system,” he said.

“The federal government’s Money Smart and the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority have both developed financial education resources …. that [are] far more comprehensive and up-to-date.

“[Banks] use school resources and much-needed volunteers to market their products to school students.”

Supporting Mr Davis’s motion, Education Minister Yvette Berry said community consultation had shown students were not satisfied with the financial education they received at school.

“One of the things students identified they wanted to learn about was money and finances … [and] the ASIC report found providers of school banking programs were unable to demonstrate these programs improved savings behaviour,” Ms Berry said.

“We know that children want to learn about money, and we know school banking programs don’t provide that learning.”

The ACT is the second state or territory to implement a ban, following a similar decision by the Victorian Government in November last year.

Proposal to delay ban rejected

The move to ban school banking programs had unanimous support across Labor, the Liberals and the Greens, but the Liberals had suggested the transition away from the programs be extended to the end of the next school year.

Opposition education spokesman Jeremy Hanson said school parents and citizens councils needed time to adjust to losing the programs.

“Within P&Cs there are mixed views, there is no unanimous view one way or another,” Mr Hanson said.

“But certainly when you consider the findings of ASIC … we are supportive of the motion.”

Ms Berry said across all ACT schools, only an estimated $20,000 had been received by P&C councils from financial institutions to administer programs.

ASIC reported more than $1 million was given to schools across the country last financial year, mostly by the Commonwealth Bank, who hold a 97 per cent share of banking programs in schools.

Its program, Dollarmites, has existed in some form since 1931.

Last year more than 175,000 primary school-aged students participating in Dollarmites had opened an account with Commonwealth Bank as part of the program.