Saving kids

THE WA education department is under pressure to ban the Commonwealth Bank’s Dollarmites program from schools following a damning national report which found it had no educational value.

Consumer group Choice has come out swinging after Queensland education minister Grace Grace banned Dollarmites late April. Choice banking expert Patrick Veyret says: “West Australian kids deserve better than banks using their schools to sign them up for a life of debt. Sue Ellery and the West Australian government should follow the other states and ban school banking programs.” 

School banking programs claim to help children develop long-term savings habits, however, an Australian Securities and Investments Commission review, released in December 2020, found school banking providers could not show that children had learnt anything about saving. Victoria and the ACT have also vowed to ban the programs. 

The Chook covered the issue in 2012, (“Corporations Engage in Classroom Marketing to our Kids,” June 16) outlining the techniques corporations used to get in the door. 

Companies slap their logo over all promotional material, and gain a foothold in school newsletters and posters displayed around the school. 

To suck schools in the Commonwealth Bank offers payments. In 2018, the ABC reported it paid almost $400,000 to Queensland state schools the year before. 

East Fremantle financial educator Lacey Filipich said she supports banning school banking: “Banks are businesses that sell debt.” 

She said banks earn income through interest charges against debts – their main product – which is what they sell to customers through loans which adds interest. 

Banks also pay interest on savings to entice customers to keep their cash in the bank allowing them to “lend more money while complying with capital adequacy requirements… so, even the promotion of saving by banks is self-serving…

“School banking programs are an excellent deal for the banks alone. 

One parent, who did not want to be named, said that they chose not to enrol their child into Dollarmites for reasons such as negative publicity, low-interest rates, limited educational outcomes, poor rewards, and lack of trust in banks.

The Voice contacted Ms Ellery and the education department for comment.

Maylands Peninsula primary principal Paul Andrijich said the program ran at the school but he didn’t have an informed opinion on its efficacy.

“Our P&C run the program in the school, and it is well supported,” Mr Andrijich said.

 “I am aware of the proposal to ban the programme in the Eastern states, but there has been little commentary about the program in our school community.”


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