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Banking Royal Commission concerns Indigenous sector

Australia’s Indigenous sector said it will take matters into its own hands after it found a severe disregard for First Nations people

The Indigenous sector has condemned the Banking Royal Commission over its failings to recognise and invest in Australia’s First Nations people.

Australia’s national Indigenous financial foundation, the First Nations Foundation, said Indigenous Australians were barely given a mention and it would be taking the matter into its own hands by calling on the financial sector to step up and invest.

The Foundation’s CEO, Amanda Young, said: “The recommendations of the Banking Royal Commission will do precious little to increase financial outcomes for First Nation people. The Commission provided an embarrassingly limited report, doing less than the bare minimum to protect and educate First Nations people.”

The Foundation said 43 per cent of First Nations people are either severely or are fully excluded from Australia’s financial system, compared to only 17 per cent of the general population and said “a phone line at a bank is hardly going to fix” the statistics.

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The Commission found that the major banks were in breach of serious misconduct like fees for no service and charging dead people. Commissioner, Kenneth Hayne, added that “most” of the executives had professed to learning from the evidence.

“But the nature and extent of their engagement with the issues differed rather more markedly than I had expected,” Hayne said. “It seemed to me that there are elements of unwillingness to recognise, and to accept responsibility for, poor conduct.”

Young said the First Nations Foundation would step up to fill a gap in statistics, calling on the financial sector to work with them to invest in Indigenous financial education.

“It is the responsibility of the banks to make this happen and we can ignite the change to help them improve financial wellbeing for nearly 700,000 people,” Young said.

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