Should banks remain in ACT public schools?

Dominic Giannini 10 February 2021 14

It doesn’t add up: CommBank’s Dollarmites project aimed at school-aged children. Image: CommBank.

The stated aim of school banking programs is to teach children financial literacy, but lately they’ve been criticised as the “sophisticated marketing machines of the big banks”.

Greens MLA Johnathan Davis is pushing for the programs to be removed from all ACT public schools following an Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) report found that the programs did not work and that conflicts of interest are not appropriately disclosed.

“Reading the report, I was extremely disappointed to learn that many schools receive kickbacks from banks for every student they sign up to one of these programs,” Mr Davis said.

“Our schools don’t exist to create customers for big banks.”

In a motion passed by the Legislative Assembly today (10 February), Mr Davis called on the ACT Government to transition away from banking programs in schools before July this year and replace the programs with financial education resources from Money Smart.

Money Smart is run by ASIC and provides online resources and tools to teach financial literacy. It has already developed education resources in conjunction with the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Report Authority.

The Liberals moved to extend the timing of the removal to the end of the school year to not disrupt programs that have already started and to give teachers more time to replace the programs but the amendment was voted down.

School banking programs have been run in NSW as far back as the 1880s, and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia started its banking program in schools in 1931.

Australian Education Union ACT Secretary Glenn Fowler welcomed the motion, calling the program an anachronism that was still in schools for nostalgic reasons.

“This is like a fast-food chain running a food class or the school canteen,” he said.

“It may have been a different story back in the day when CBA was the national bank … but it is inappropriate for a big commercial bank to be in schools.”

Johnathan Davis

Greens MLA Johnathan Davis has called on the Government to remove school banking programs in the ACT by mid-2021. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Mr Fowler said that government-run programs, such as the resources offered by ASIC, should instead be taught in schools to avoid any commercial conflicts of interest.

CBA paid thousands of schools almost $6 million over the past three years to run the programs, causing the corporate watchdog to call on the bank to be more transparent with its practices as schools were paid more depending on the number of deposit accounts opened.

CBA had over 175,000 school banking program accounts at the end of June last year,

“The banks will tell us that they provide financial literacy programs that help improve young people’s relationships with money, but they provide no evidence to prove that,” Mr Davis said.

According to research from Choice, consumers often stick with the first bank they join with almost half of Australians opening their first bank account with CBA in 2019, and more than a third still have that account.

In September 2020, ASIC wrote to each state and territory education authority outlining the review’s key findings and to understand what policies their respective jurisdictions may have for the governance and oversight of school banking programs. The ASIC report was released in December.

In late 2020, Victoria said it would ban “low-quality” school banking programs in 2021.

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14 Responses to Should banks remain in ACT public schools?
Deref Deref 12:53 pm 15 Feb 21

Hell no! Business has no place exploiting children.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:53 am 11 Feb 21

Good idea and kick the unions and their Marxist minions out too!

Rob Long Rob Long 11:10 am 11 Feb 21

No, indoctrination

Avril Pounds Avril Pounds 7:33 am 11 Feb 21

I'd like to see some form of school banking remain in schools or at the very least some sort of program teaching kids about money. The current school banking system is extremely outdated, but I think it should be replaced rather than removed completely.

Kerry Crampton Kerry Crampton 8:38 pm 10 Feb 21

I thought many schools are getting rid of them? I know ours has.

Ray Ez Ray Ez 8:01 pm 10 Feb 21

Like the big banks are providing a community service! Ha. Ha....

Gary Rawlings Gary Rawlings 6:49 pm 10 Feb 21

Not any more

Iaian Ross Iaian Ross 6:34 pm 10 Feb 21

Well if Universities are trying to convince kids in schools to get their parents to spend money they might not have and not then being able to manage or not understanding the debt appropriately...

Helen Morgan Helen Morgan 5:43 pm 10 Feb 21

Surely anything that gets them in the habit of saving must be a good thing.

AA-Ron Kelly AA-Ron Kelly 3:22 pm 10 Feb 21

No. However, schools need to teach kids about finance and the importance of saving etc. more so towards the end of schooling so they know what they are up for in life.

Martin Budden Martin Budden 3:19 pm 10 Feb 21

There should be no place for commercial banks and kickbacks in our schools.

It's easy for parents to run a "bank" for their kids; schools should facilitate parents to do this.

Stephen Saunders Stephen Saunders 1:41 pm 10 Feb 21

Can’t believe this is still happening. There’s no case for this oft named and shamed bank to have preferred access to vulnerable school kids.

Next thing you know, they’ll be letting chaplains into our schools. Oh, wait a minute…

keek keek 11:38 am 10 Feb 21

Just ban the kickbacks? That seems to be the only actual issue with school banking programs. I don’t believe making it easy for kids to have a little savings account is an inherently bad thing.

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