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Marriage debate highlights LGBTQI financial needs

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Reporter 5 minute read

Following on from the marriage law postal survey results, a subsidiary of a major bank has highlighted the need to improve financial support for the LGBTQI community.

St. George Bank, a subsidiary of Westpac, recently released its LGBTQI Financial Wellbeing Report, said to be the first report of its kind for an Australian financial institution. 

The report revealed that those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and intersex feel underserved when it comes to their financial needs being met. 

According to the research, which surveyed 1,254 Australians — including 826 members of the LGBTQI community — two-thirds of the respondents were worried about their financial future. 

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The report also found that those who identified as being LGBTQI are less likely to own their own home, and more worried about their ability to financially provide for themselves and their family.

Part of the problem, the report found, was that 85 per cent believed that financial products are currently designed for couples in traditional heterosexual relationships.

The research revealed that LGBTQI Australians are 28 per cent less likely to be owner-occupier home owners than their heterosexual counterparts (42 per cent compared to 59 per cent) and are 31 per cent more likely to be renting (43 per cent compared to 33 per cent).

This could partly be attributed to the fact that nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of LGBTQI Australians feel as though there are only some communities they would feel comfortable living in. 

Notably, the report found that despite the average household income of LGBTQI household being higher (by $22,389, or 25 per cent), the average property value for an LGBTQI Australian was 15 per cent higher and the average mortgage held by this community was 41 per cent higher than for other Australians. 

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Nearly a third of LGBTQI Australians said that they had faced discrimination when facing with a financial institution in Australia, with transgender Australians being twice as likely (56 per cent) to face discrimination. 

The vast majority (69 per cent) of LGBTQI Australians said that they required a “unique approach” to ensure a level playing field with other Australians.

St. George general manager Ross Miller said that he believes the results were “concerning” and that the bank believes “properly tailored financial support could meet these [reported] challenges”.

Speaking after the announcement of the marriage law postal survey, Mr Miller told The Adviser: “There’s no doubt that this is a historic moment for Australia, and it’s such a positive step towards equality. The nation can feel hopeful and optimistic for the future.

“While there’s been no shortage of noise around the same-sex marriage debate, one important factor has been missed: the LGBTQI community’s financial needs and habits.”

Mr Miller continued: “As a family bank aiming to meet the financially diverse needs of all Australian families, we commissioned this research to better understand financial wellbeing in the LGBTQI community, including household finances, overall wealth and financial outlook.

“These findings are a strong reminder for the finance and banking industry that there is still more work to do to ensure an even playing field for LGBTQI Australians.”

[Related: Home buying journey takes toll on Aussie FHBs]

Marriage debate highlights LGBTQI financial needs
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