Consumer group CHOICE is calling for people across Australia to share their stories about regional banking.
"Many Australians live in a regional area and even more people have loved ones who live in and rely on the regions. It's essential that people can access banking services in the bush," says CHOICE Banking campaigner Patrick Veyret.
"The government has established a taskforce to assess the impact of bank branch closures on regional communities. CHOICE is writing a submission that will call for fair access to banking services for everyone. As part of this, we want to include real stories from people affected by or worried about access to banking services."
"Since June 2017, there have been over 500 bank branch closures in regional Australia. A branch closure can be devastating for the local community. It may mean that you have to drive hours to access a bank branch or that the only ATM in town is a private one with a large fee to withdraw cash."
"We want to show the Federal Government why communities care about fair access to banks and ATMs in the regions."
"As the shift to online banking accelerates, we need to ensure nobody is left behind. The government is going to hear from the big four banks, so we need to ensure they hear from communities and consumers impacted by their decisions to close branches and remove ATMs."
CHOICE is asking for people to share their story about regional banking here: www.choice.com.au/regionalbanking
CHOICE will be presenting consumer stories to the Regional Banking Taskforce.
Media contact: 0430 172 669, email@example.com
Between June 2017 and June 2021, there have been 575 bank branch closures in regional Australia. (Source: APRA)
Between June 2017 and June 2021, there has been a 34% decline in the number of ATMs in regional Australia. (Source: APRA)
Some of the responses CHOICE has received to the survey so far include:
"I have to do a 150km round trip to get to a bank or an ATM machine that doesn't charge a fee."
"84km round trip to get to our bank. If I want to deposit money or do other transactions needing face to face contact then I have to travel that distance. Changing banks is not an option as no one knows when the remaining bank here will close."
"Quite a few residents of my village community are elderly people who don't drive and/or are frail/disabled and lack ability/computer skills to use online banking. They rely on infrequent and limited bus services, or the kindness of friends and neighbours, to get to the nearest banking facilities which are 17km away, where there are 2 big bank branches and a credit union. The nearest ANZ branch is an 86 km round trip."