Victoria will ban school banking programs including the ubiquitous Dollarmites scheme from 2021, with the State Government claiming the schemes do little to impart real money skills.
As someone who was always more likely to blow his spare gold coins on Killer Pythons, this is an extremely interesting development.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino announced the move on Sunday, confirming that future generations of school kids will be separated from bank-branded goodies and holographic rulers.
“Victorian students deserve high quality financial literacy, free from commercial interests – that’s why we’re banning financial institutions from delivering school banking programs,” Merlino said.
In case you’re unfamiliar with school banking programs, here’s the gist: some banks provide resources to schools which allow young kids to deposit their loose change into what is likely their first-ever savings account.
As a reward, young savers are often provided goodies, like the stationary mentioned above. Programs also impart savings advice to their junior clientele and families.
But the Victorian Government says that’s not quite enough.
These programs are “low quality activities run by external organisations trying to find new customers,” the government said in a statement, adding that these saving schemes sometimes provide lower interest rates than ‘adult’ savings accounts.
All of those knick knacks provided by the systems? Well, banks are effectively “luring children with prizes and incentives to develop trust and loyalty in banks at an inappropriate age,” the government claims.
The state will instead turn to focus on teacher-led financial education.
“The Victorian curriculum sets our expectations for financial literacy and that must be our focus,” Merlino said.
“It is time to draw a line under this issue.”
In a statement obtained by The Age, Commonwealth Bank, which operates Dollarmites Club, said the decision was a surprise that will impact “thousands of children, families, school communities and volunteers” over Victoria.
The bank said it was working to address concerns raised by a 2019 Australian Securities and Investments Commission review of the school banking scene, and that the system enjoyed “significant support” among the community.
Keep in mind this isn’t just targeted at Dollarmites – all banks with similar school programs will be impacted from Term 1 next year.