Commonwealth Bank chief executive Matt Comyn says he is committed to eliminating financial abuse, a form of domestic violence, in Australia.
Comyn told an audience at the Future Women Leadership Summit the bank has a clear vision for tackling the nation’s more than $10 billion issue.
“We recognise that it’s absolutely a whole of community problem and we’ll need a whole of community approach,” he said.
He said more than 600,000 people were victims of financial abuse in the last calendar year, putting the cost of that abuse at more than $5 billion.
Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn told Helen McCabe he is committed to eliminating financial abuse
“The indirect effects of that are another $5.2 billion on the Australian economy,” he said.
“Yes, making a real dent in some of these issues is going to be very expensive but the reality is it’s costing an awful lot financially, and of course you never can, but that for the moment ignores the devastating impact on people’s lives.”
Comyn said the issue of financial abuse is one CommBank is extremely passionate about.
“We’re very fortunate to have a team of people that have really championed and led a series of initiatives, and it really goes back to 2015 with Rosie Batty, the Australian of the Year,” he said.
“Seeing and hearing her story and really being inspired to take greater action.”
Batty, a survivor of domestic violence, became an advocate and campaigner in 2014 after her 11-year-old son, Luke, was killed by his father. She was named Australian of the Year in 2015.
“We started moving towards more sustainability and then we started doing more work around financial abuse which is often a precursor and is almost always associated with some physical abuse down the track,” Comyn said.
He said some of the work started as simply as understanding the bank’s payment mechanisms – anything that allowed someone to send a message to someone else.
“Then over time we thought well that’s effective but is there an area overall where we feel like we can play more of a distinct role in supporting and eliminate the shocking levels of family violence in Australia,” he said.
Through its Next Chapter initiative, the bank provides financial assistance to help those dealing with financial abuse, regardless if they are a CBA customer.
CommBank CEO Matt Comyn sat down with Helen McCabe at the Four Seasons in Sydney
“We’re launching the largest advertising and awareness campaign. We’ve got enough confidence now on what we’ve been able to do… we’re going to learn as we go about what’s most and least effective,” he said.
“I think we can bring the broader industry, and a number of other large companies, and government, and really shine a light on the issue and try and make a very substantial reduction.”
As part of its awareness campaign, CommBank collaborated with Future Women on the groundbreaking new podcast, There’s No Place Like Home.
The 10 episode series lifts the lid on domestic and family violence.
“We need to pay attention to this critically important issue,” Jamila Rizvi, Future Women’s chief of content, community and online learning, told the summit.
“We need to recognise that it knows no socio economic circumstances, no race, no part in Australia – it happens in the city, it happens in the country – and it happens far too often.”
Rizvi said the podcast puts survivors at the centre of the story.
“It makes sure survivors sharing what’s happened to them with you, not someone speaking for them,” she said.
“It shares the stories of 10 people who have experienced family violence. It’s based on more than 100 hours of interviews and brings forth the expertise of advocates, researchers, and practitioners who work everyday to end gender based violence.”
Research from not for profit organisation, Our Watch, found on average one Australian woman will be killed by a current or former partner each week.
It also found First Nations women experience violence over three times the rate of non-indigenous women and are nearly 11 times more likely to die due to assault.
Research also revealed women with disabilities in Australia are around two times more likely than women without disabilities to have experienced sexual violence and intimate partner violence.
Meanwhile, people living in remote and very remote areas are 24 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of family violence.
There’s No Place Like Home is hosted by Tarang Chawla, a gender equality and mental health advocate. Chawla’s sister, Nikita, was killed by her partner in 2015. The series is available here.