11.30 While children generally do not have access to large amounts of money, many teenagers earn wages from part time employment. A significant number of young people aged over 16 are in full time employment and need access to the full range of banking services. Young people participating in the focus groups told us of difficulties in opening bank accounts because of identification requirements. In some cases parents had to open an account on the child’s behalf. In addition, independent young people often have difficulty obtaining credit.
11.31 The Inquiry considers it important that the national child consumer strategies include general information on the way banks operate and how to access their services. This material should also include information about available complaints mechanisms.
11.32 Various ‘watchdog’ or regulatory bodies have been established to oversee consumer banking and finance services. For example, the Australian Banking Industry Ombudsman Scheme was set up in 1990 to help individual customers resolve complaints with their banks, usually through processes of investigation, discussions with the bank and conciliation.
11.33 The Banking Industry Ombudsman does not keep statistics on the number of complaints made by or on behalf of people under 18 years of age. Anecdotal evidence suggests they are under-represented as complainants. Given the level of concern about financial services expressed by young people in our focus groups, the Inquiry considers that information about the services offered by the Banking Industry Ombudsman should be included in the national child consumer education strategies proposed at recommendation 51.
11.34 The Consumer Affairs Division of the Department of Industry, Science and Tourism administers a Financial Counselling Program that provides free financial advice to people who may be disadvantaged by socio-economic status or geographic location. Internal research indicates that approximately 10–15% of the Program’s clients are under 25 years of age although few are under 18. The program should be publicised through the national child consumer education strategies proposed at recommendation 51.
11.35 The Wallis Inquiry into the Australian Financial System recently recommended the creation of a new agency, the Australian Corporations and Financial Services Commission, to provide federal regulation of the finance sector including consumer protection. The federal Government is committed to this reform. When it is established, the Australian Corporations and Financial Services Commission should have regard to the specific needs of child consumers in the banking industry when developing complaints lodging and handling procedures.
Recommendation 57 General information about banking services should be included in the national child consumer education strategies proposed at recommendation 51.
Recommendation 58 Information about the services provided by the Australian Banking Industry Ombudsman should be included in the national child consumer education strategies proposed at recommendation 51.
Recommendation 59 Information about the Financial Counselling Program administered by the Consumer Affairs Division of the Department of Industry, Science and Tourism should be included in the national child consumer education strategies proposed at recommendation 51.
Recommendation 60 The proposed Australian Corporations and Financial Services Commission should have regard to the specific needs of child consumers in the banking industry when developing complaints lodging and handling procedures.
 Adelaide Focus Group 29 April 1996. This was also a major consumer problem identified by respondents to our survey, along with the fact that they are not taken seriously by banks: see Survey Questions 15–17. See also Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW IP Submission 60.
 This proposal is supported by Taxi Employees’ League DRP Submission 21.
 The Ombudsman can help if the problem occurred, or first came to the consumer’s attention, after May 1989 and the maximum financial loss is less than $100 000. Credit unions and building societies are not dealt with by the Banking Industry Ombudsman but have developed their own industry schemes. For example, the Credit Union Dispute Reference Centre has 201 of the 268 credit unions signed up to it.
 Similar services are provided by some States and Territories. eg the NSW Dept of Fair Trading funds a credit helpline program which is administered by the Wesley Mission and provides financial counselling to remote and isolated consumers throughout NSW.
 Financial System Inquiry Final Report AGPS Canberra 1997, 31. The Australian Corporations and Financial Services Commission will combine roles currently performed by the Australian Securities Commission, the Insurance and Superannuation Commission and the Australian Payments System Council.
 P Costello, Treasurer Media Release 2 September 1997.