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.
“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,” Mr Lewis said.
CUA’s FIAP includes actions focused on improving products and services, building financial capability, understanding financial vulnerability and strengthening economic security.
Mr Lewis said complex social issues underpinned many of the barriers to financial inclusion.
“More than three 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.”
The FIAP includes a continued focus on issues that contribute to financial stress, some of which have been potentially exacerbated by COVID-19:
- Helping Australians overcome barriers to home ownership. CUA 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.
- Lifting digital and financial capability in an online world through CUA’s 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.
Mr Lewis said CUA’s commitments under the FIAP reinforce the mutual’s heritage of providing access to fair and affordable finance, and helping Australians improve their financial wellbeing.
“It’s part of our DNA. We know that by working with organisations like these we can support vulnerable Australians to build their financial capability and ultimately, give them the means to build a better financial future for themselves and their families,” he said.
CUA is the latest organisation to publish its action plan under the FIAP program, a national program aimed at promoting economic wellbeing and financial inclusion. The program is supported by Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand, the Australian Government, EY and the Centre for Social Impact.
Stella Avramopoulos, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand CEO 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.”
The CUA FIAP is available online at www.cua.com.au/fiap