Urgent Action Needed to Address Bank Closures in Regional Australia

Published on Wednesday, 13 March 2024 at 4:18:13 PM

In a public hearing held today in Tom Price, President Smith, representing the Shire of Ashburton, has ignited a call to action to halt the ongoing regional services inequality and curb the accelerating closures of banks across regional Australia.

President Smith emphasised the urgent need to shed light on the insidious impact these closures are having on towns and communities, stressing the devastating consequences of the lack of access to basic financial services.

Recent statistics reveal a concerning trend, with 253 bank branches closed between 2018 and 2021, 105 of which were in regional areas. By September 2023, this figure rose to 140 branches shuttered across regional Australia.

The repercussions for communities are profound, with limited access to basic financial services hindering day-to-day life, impeding access to financial information, affordable financial products like insurance, and contributing to poor financial literacy. The ripple effects extend to businesses, families, community organisations, and overall community well-being.

Residents of regional areas face long journeys for essential banking services. For instance, a trip from Tom Price to Karratha involves a 12-hour round trip on a sealed road or a 7-hour journey on an unsealed road, which is the same as Sydneysiders traveling farther than Canberra to access basic financial services.

President Smith and collaborating stakeholders are presenting a pathway forward to combat this inequality and stem the mass exodus of banks from regional Australia. They are spotlighting the systemic exclusion of regional Australians from the economy, stressing the broader community impact on financial literacy, safety, quality of life, discrimination, inequality, and access to credit and affordable insurance.

“It’s crucial that we bring attention to the far-reaching consequences of this movement, which not only affects individuals' day-to-day lives but also the profound impacts on businesses, families, and community well-being. We must work together to forge a path forward that ensures equitable access to essential financial services for all Australians, regardless of their geographic location,” stated President Smith.

With 7 million people residing in regional Australia, the time is now for a national conversation to tackle this pressing national problem head-on.

Back to All News