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Access to consumer credit: the problem of financial exclusion in Australia and the current regulatory framework

Macquarie University, School of Law
Publication Date
  • 180100 Law
  • 180105 Commercial And Contract Law
  • 180199 Law Not Elsewhere Classified


This is the author’s version of a work that was submitted/accepted for pub- lication in the following source: Howell, Nicola & Wilson, Therese (2005) Access to consumer credit: the problem of financial exclusion in Australia and the current regulatory frame- work. Macquarie Law Journal, 5(2005), pp. 127-148. This file was downloaded from: Notice: Changes introduced as a result of publishing processes such as copy-editing and formatting may not be reflected in this document. For a definitive version of this work, please refer to the published source: Access to Consumer Credit: the Problem of Financial Exclusion in Australia and the Current Regulatory Framework Nicola Howell and Therese Wilson I INTRODUCTION Many financial services, including the provision of short-term credit, have been acknowledged as essential services.[1] Exclusion from such services can be described as ‘financial exclusion’, which can itself lead to ‘social exclusion’, in the sense of being denied full participation in society. This article explores the term ‘financial exclusion’ in the Australian context and considers the extent to which the current regulatory structure for financial institutions in Australia assists in addressing it. In Part II we describe the nature of financial exclusion in Australia, including the extent of exclusion, its causes and its consequences. We focus particularly on the consumer credit market. In Australia, there are not large groups of people who would be regarded as ‘unbanked’ with no engagement with the financial system whatsoever, as has been found to be the case in the UK. Financial exclusion in the Australian context can therefore best be defined in terms of lack of access to mainstream financial services. Those excluded from mainstream financial services may turn to alternative service providers, being either ‘fringe’ credit providers or the community sector. Organisations within the community sector offer fair fi

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