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Disability sector profits from unique bank change.

September 2019
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Disability sector profits from unique banking change.

We've unveiled a unique new branch that has been designed especially for people with disabilities.

The Canberra city branch has been built and furnished after extensive consultation with key disability groups including Dementia Australia, Down Syndrome ACT, Marymead Autism Centre and Getaboutable.

After collating the results, Beyond Bank’s interior design team has made significant changes to its standard branch fit-out that include new textures, colours, lighting, flooring and signage.

“Beyond Bank’s core value is to be the best bank for the local community and that means that we need to ensure that banking remains accessible to everyone regardless of whether you are able-bodied or living with a disability,” said Mr. Nick May, General Manager, Customer Experience, Beyond Bank.

“All of us deserve the right to have financial freedom which comes from managing our own money and completing day-to-day transactions, it is a key part of being independent.”

Major changes include:

  • Replacing dark purple carpet with lighter coloured flooring to improve depth of perception for people with dementia who can become fearful of dark spaces;
  • Removing laminated countertops and installing stone and timber surfaces to make physical contact with the teller less confronting for those living with dementia;
  • Installing soundproofing to meeting rooms to minimise external noise that can cause confusion and stress;
  • Installing dimmable lighting technology and curtains to make the banking environment less likely to cause over-stimulation of senses;
  • Providing a hearing loop for deaf customers who can tune their hearing aid to an internal banking channel;
  • New, clearly worded signage in simple font to direct customers to key zones within the branch;
  • Lowering teller counters to allow easier access for customers in wheelchairs or mobility scooters; and
  • Staff training programs to upskill on ways to best assist customers with dementia and autism.

“We have considered every aspect of the banking experience and heavily invested in providing the right environment for all of our customers,” said Mr. May.

“If we have made life a little easier for those living with a disability in our community, then we have achieved our goal.”

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe believes the changes initiated by Beyond Bank will have a positive impact for local people living with dementia.

“There are an estimated 447,000 Australians living with dementia today and of those, around 70 per cent live in the community,” said Ms McCabe.

"Banking is a routine task we can easily take for granted but for someone living with dementia, banking online or going into a branch can be stressful and overwhelming.

"By creating a dementia-friendly physical environment, with trained and aware staff, banks can support people living with dementia to remain financially safe."

Beyond Bank will monitor and review the branch over a three-month timeframe and is already considering rolling out the changes across its national network.

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