Presentation of Certificate of Recognition to the National Australia Bank

Dr Sev Ozdowski OAM,
Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner
Sev Ozdowski

Thank you for your welcome.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to personally congratulate the National Australia Bank and all your staff on the work you have been doing to ensure people with disabilities have equal access to your services and facilities.

I would particularly like to note the formal launch later this month of your first audio ATM to be operating in Prahran. This development will allow for independent use of ATM's by blind people and people with a vision impairment.

The National was the first bank in Australia to make a public commitment to eliminating discrimination in its services by lodging a Disability Discrimination Act Action Plan with the Commission back in 1997.

The Disability Discrimination Commissioner at the time congratulated the National on its initiative.

However, it is now my pleasure to formally hand over a Certificate of Recognition of your ongoing commitment to customers with disabilities.

In doing this I would like to acknowledge all those people in the National who have played a part in the development and implementation of your Action Plan.

Implementation takes place every day at every level in the bank. Whether it is:

  • the way in which staff communicate with a customer with an intellectual disability;
    the decisions made by IT experts on how to set up and operate web sites;
    the design and fit out of facilities, and
    the purchase and placement of ATM's

all present opportunity for the bank to provide a good service - or a discriminatory service.

The National's Action Plan is a strategy designed to ensure the bank provides a good service. Like all strategies, however, it needs to be re-visited from time to time to make sure earlier decisions and priorities are still relevant.

I am particularly pleased therefore to note that the National is currently involved in revising its Action Plan and I look forward to receiving the revised plan soon.

A decision to revise your plan could not have come at a better time as there are many new technical, social and policy developments to be considered.

One of the changes taking place concerns the way we use technology to perform more and more financial transactions.

As you will be aware the Commission has been working closely with the Australian Bankers Association (ABA), to ensure people with disabilities and older Australians are not left on the wrong side of the 'digital divide'.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of that work has been our participation in a number of ABA sponsored working groups developing industry best practice standards in the area of ATM's, EFTPOS, Internet and Telephone Banking.

The development of these industry standards is being done in consultation with the banks, Credit Unions, Building Societies, retailers, people with disabilities and representatives of older Australians.

Our aim is to develop standards which will both ensure equitable access to services and equip financial institutions with the opportunity to provide better services to existing customers and tap into new markets.

The National has been an active participant in those working groups and has added to what I am sure will be set of standards which reflect world best practice.

What is critical however is that individual financial institutions move quickly to adopt those voluntary standards and integrate them into their Action Plans.

I hope to see the National retain the lead established by being the first bank to lodge an Action Plan by adopting and implementing the industry standards when available.

Let me finish by once again congratulating all the staff at the National for the commitment made to providing the best quality service to all your customers and wish you well in the process of revising your Action Plan.