Today I announce that all 144 retail banks, building societies and credit unions have signed up to the Government's Principles to assist borrowers who are experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the global recession.
These Principles will ensure that families finding it tough to paying off their mortgage in the face of the global recession are fairly treated by their bank, building society or credit union.
This follows on from an agreement by the big four Australian banks to sign up to these principles in April. All members of the Association of Building Societies and Credit Unions (ABACUS) and all retail members of the Australian Bankers' Association (ABA) with a focus in the mortgage market are now signatories to the Principles.
The Principles provide support and assistance for borrowers struggling to meet their mortgage repayments due to temporary unemployment or other factors related to the global recession.
While Australia is weathering the global recession better than most countries, we are not immune to its impacts, including an expected rise in unemployment.
The Rudd Government is committed to working to reduce the impact of the global recession on Australians. This agreement means that financial institutions will be able to offer a range of options to assist mortgagees who are facing financial hardship.
Options for assisting borrowers in distress include:
Of course, these options won't be appropriate in every case, and financial institutions will make assessments based on the borrowers' ability to meet new contractual obligations in the long-term.
I congratulate ABACUS, ABA and all of their members for working co-operatively with the Government on behalf of their customers.
If a borrower believes their financial institution has not lived up to the promise it has made through the Principles, they should first raise this with their financial institution's central customer complaints area, and if not satisfied with the response, they can contact their financial institutions' external dispute resolution service, through either the Financial Ombudsman Service on 1300 78 08 08 or www.fos.org.au or the Credit Ombudsman Service on 1800 138 422 or www.cosl.com.au.
For more information customers of Credit Unions and Building Societies can get in touch with their financial institutions by contacting ABACUS on 13 11 28, or visiting the website at www.abacus.org.au.
Bank customers can obtain more information by contacting their bank directly on the relevant number listed in the attached.
21 June 2009
Bank contact details for customers
|ANZ||1800 252 845|
|AMP Banking||Mr John Gabriel, Team Leader
Telephone: (02) 9768-4311
13 30 30
|Arab Bank Australia||Ms Raghida Younes
Marketing and Communications
Tel: (02) 9377-8978
|Bank of Cyprus||Customer Service
Telephone: 1300 660 550
|Bank of Queensland||Customer Relations
Telephone: (07) 3212-3240
13 17 18
|Bendigo & Adelaide Bank||Mortgage Help Centre
1 300 650 259
|Citibank||Customer Service Centre
13 24 84
|Commonwealth Bank||1300 720 814|
|HSBC Bank||1300 555 988|
Telephone: 1300 131 141
Direct: +61 2 9293 2021
|Laiki Bank||Customer Relations
02 8262 9000
|National Australia Bank||1300 661 114|
|St George||1800 629 795|
|Suncorp Bank||1800 225 223|
|Westpac Assist||1800 067 497|
The deteriorating domestic and international economic outlook will place continued financial pressure on households, as those affected find it more difficult to service housing and personal debt.
It is important that financial institutions have clear and effective arrangements to manage borrowers who are facing financial hardship. In particular, institutions should have in place arrangements that assist borrowers who are experiencing temporary financial hardship.
The Government and Australia's financial institutions through ABACUS and ABA have agreed to a common approach for assisting borrowers facing financial hardship.
The Principles, which apply in relation to all consumer credit contracts, establish temporary and standardised arrangements that are designed to assist borrowers that are unable to meet their contractual obligations due to unemployment or as a result of other (reasonable) causes.
Participating financial institutions will apply the following principles on a case by case basis to assist borrowers manage their way through temporary financial hardship.
In these circumstances, the financial institutions will support their borrowers by: