Speech for the Launch of the Older and Disabled Customer Guidelines for Banks

  • Hon Carmel Sepuloni
Disability Issues

Fa’atalofa atu, malo e lelei, Kia ora koutou katoa

Thank you, Roger Beaumont, for your introduction.

Can I take a moment to thank you all for coming out this morning for this launch of the New Zealand Bankers Association’s Guidelines to help banks meet the needs of older and disabled customers. 

I would like to welcome to members of the Disabled Peoples Organisations, including Blind Citizens, People First, Deaf Aotearoa and the DPA, as well as Disability Service Providers who are here- IHC, the Blind Foundation and CCS Disability Action, and those of you here from Dementia NZ and Grey Power. I know you have all given your time and energy to the development of these new guidelines and I thank you for being a part of this. 

Welcome to the members of the NZ Bankers Association and the member Banks here today.

I would also like to acknowledge the Disability Rights Commissioner, and government officials from the Office for Seniors and the Office for Disability Issues, as well as my fellow MPs in attendance.

Today we are launching the second iteration of the Guidelines to help banks meet the needs of older and disabled customers. 

I understand that many of you here today are members of the Code of Banking Practice Focus Group for Older and Disabled People. I’m pleased to hear that you have had the opportunity to be involved in the development of these guidelines and have been able to engage directly with the banks to ensure we are putting into place best practice. 

I would like to commend the NZ Bankers Association for how they have worked to ensure what is developed works well for seniors and disabled people. These groups of people are often strongly affected by changes to banking systems, particularly when they are driven by the development of newer, faster, online and digital technologies.

When these guidelines become mandatory in 2020, they will help to ensure that the banking system is more inclusive and is accessible for older and disabled customers. 

Not only are the guidelines the right thing to do they are also good for business. 

These guidelines align well with this Governments focus on a more accessible Aotearoa. Last year we agreed to a major accessibility work programme, which commits us to exploring how we can achieve full accessibility for disabled people and all New Zealanders. These guidelines are an excellent example of making accessibility of services a reality.

These guidelines are also important in helping mitigate potential abuse that can occur for disabled people and older people. One in ten people over 65 will be subject to some form of elder abuse – with over 50% of this being financial abuse. This is most often at the hands of a family member or a trusted person, like a carer. I know this is a concern also reflected in the disability community. Being able to have the independence to access services themselves is an important step to addressing this issue. 

While the guidelines do not make mention of acceptable forms of identification, I would like to acknowledge the input that the New Zealand Bankers Association and banks have had into the development of the new Kiwi Access Card. I know that a large number of disabled people, who are not able to obtain a NZ Drivers Licence, welcome your acceptance of this new card as a recognised form of identification.

I encourage the New Zealand Bankers Association to continue to invest in technologies that make their services more accessible, while acknowledging that evolving technologies can be costly and difficult to access by the population groups represented here today. I also continue the disability and seniors groups here to continue to advocate for the services and policies that are fit for purpose for you and the people you represent. 

This Government welcomes the guidelines becoming mandatory from January 2020, and ensuring that our disabled population and increasingly growing older population have the ability to access the services they need. The guidelines send a strong message that banks care about their customers and that they are there to support their customers.

Thank you all for your time here today. I am delighted to launch the Guidelines to help banks meet the needs of older and disabled customers.