The Victorian Labor government plans to remove “low quality” school banking programs run by financial institutions from 2021, with CommBank’s Dollarmites scheme to be booted.
In a statement, Victorian Minister for Education John Merlino said the programs would be replaced with quality school-led programs to improve students’ financial skills.
“Victorian students deserve high quality financial literacy, free from commercial interests—that’s why we’re banning financial institutions from delivering school banking programs,” Merlino said.
“The Victorian curriculum sets our expectations for financial literacy and that must be our focus. It is time to draw a line under this issue.”
The findings of the Royal Commission into the Banking and Financial Services Industry highlighted the importance of financial literacy and education in schools. Merlino said the economic fallout of coronavirus has further underscored this need.
The Minister for Education added that there is very little evidence to suggest school banking programs teach students lasting habits to improve financial literacy.
Students, teachers and families have also frequently raised concerns about the quality of education and financial literacy outcomes delivered by school banking programs, he said.
“Concerns have also been repeatedly raised about banks using inappropriate tactics such as luring children with prizes and incentives to develop trust and loyalty in banks at an inappropriate age,” Merlino said.
“There have also been reports around the inappropriate promotion of credit cards to primary school aged children.
“Additionally, interest rates offered through school banking programs are unfairly low, resulting in students missing out on compounding interest, one of the key benefits that comes with saving money and banking.”
To improve students’ financial literacy, the Andrews Labor government will introduce new teaching resources as well as practical information and tips for students on taxation and how to identify and avoid scams.
Merlino said these resources will be developed in consultation with financial experts focused on what skills Victorian students need.
From the start of 2021, these resources will replace “low quality” activities run by external organisations, like CommBank’s infamous Dollarmites scheme—which was awarded a Shonky in 2019 by Choice—, trying to find new customers.
In a statement, CommBank said the bank was “surprised and disappointment with this decision by the Victorian Government”.
“This will have an impact on thousands of children, families, school communities and volunteers, right across the state,” it said.
The ban on banks and financial institutions delivering school banking will be introduced from Term 1, 2021.
Featured image source: Commbank.com.au
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