Member Owned Banking FAQ

This page has answers to some frequently asked questions about the partnership between UnionsACT and Bank Australia.

Are you calling for a boycott of the retail banks?

No, UnionsACT is not calling for a boycott of the retail banks.

We are encouraging union members and supporters to make a considered consumer choice, and making available information about alternatives to the major retail banks.

Our objective is to use the power of consumer choice to promote and encourage stronger standards for banking executives, institutional culture, and sales pressures placed by executives on banking staff. Many workers in the major retail banks face consistent pressure to participate in risky sales cultures in order to keep their jobs. The inappropriate practices and behaviour of banking executives perpetuate a predatory banking culture that rewards the worst behaviours.

By placing consumer pressure on the banking executives, our aim is to promote a more ethical culture and improve standards.

Who is Bank Australia?

Previously known as bankmecu and MECU, Bank Australia is a 100 percent customer-owned bank that has been operating since 1957. Bank Australia is committed to responsible, ethical banking. Find out more here.

Why is UnionsACT partnering with Bank Australia?

UnionsACT has partnered with Bank Australia to help promote member-owned alternatives to the for-profit retail banks. We have partnerships with a range of financial institutions, including industry superannuation funds, and banks, all of which are member-owned or mutuals, and ethically run.

Recently, the Royal Commission into the Banks, and lobbying by the Big Banks to amend superannuation laws, has made us decide to be more proactive in supporting alternatives. We are also concerned that the Big Banks continue to donate massive amounts of money to conservative political parties like the Liberal party, National party and the LNP, amongst others.

One of the best ways encourage member-owned banking is to encourage people to switch their home loans and everyday banking away from the Big Banks. Home loans are very profitable, so this really hits banks where it hurts.

UnionsACT has a strict Ethical Sponsorship policy. This means we only enter into partnerships with financial institutions like banks that meet the criteria in our policy, and which share our values of unionism, independence and respect.

Our bank switching partnership with Bank Australia is one of the ways we achieve our goal to promote ethical, membership-based alternatives.

Why just Bank Australia, not other banks? What about ME Bank?

We know that there are many member-owned and customer-owned banks and credit unions, including ME Bank, a bank owned by industry super funds. Some unions have direct partnerships with specific industry banks or credit unions, or a partnership with ME Bank.

We support all ethical, member-owned banks, and we have partnered in the past with ME Bank. We recommend seeking specific advice about whether your personal financial needs suit switching to one of those banks or credit unions.

If you currently bank with a non-profit bank or credit union, or have a home loan or bank with ME Bank, UnionsACT will not refer you to Bank Australia. 

We have chosen to partner with Bank Australia because we are looking for innovative campaigning models that reflect our values, encourage collective action and achieves real impact. This partnership with Bank Australia has the potential to do all of those things, and they are prepared to experiment with this new model of campaigning, which distinguishes them from other banks.

Does UnionsACT receive a financial contribution if I switch my home loan or bank account?

Yes. If you shift to your home loan or everyday banking through us, UnionsACT will receive a small once-off financial contribution towards our campaigns. This fee is at no cost to you, and doesn’t affect your interest rate, fees or loan structure in any way. The fee is deposited into the UnionsACT Campaign Fund, and we use it to fund our ongoing advocacy and campaigning on behalf of working people.

Does shifting my home loan through UnionsACT increase my interest rate or fees?

No. UnionsACT receives a small, one-off payment when you switch, but it doesn’t affect your interest rate, fees or loan structure in any way.

Any other questions?

Please email us at unionsact@unionsact.org.au