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NAB singled out as banks ‘slut-shame’ sex workers

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NAB singled out as banks ‘slut-shame’ sex workers

Sex worker

Victorian MP David Limbrick has accused a number of banks and financial institutions of discriminating against sex workers and adult retailers, singling out NAB as the worst culprit.

In an address to the upper house, Mr Limbrick said financial entities had refused to provide services to anyone engaged in sex work as well as part-time workers selling adult products.

“There have been cases recently where sex workers have received a letter from the bank, notifying them they need to look elsewhere for banking services as their accounts will be closed,” he said.

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“I condemn these policies, which effectively amount to corporate slut-shaming. It’s amazing to think that people in the banking industry think that they have any moral high ground.”

Mr Limbrick singled out NAB as the worst perpetrator, without naming any other banks.

“I’m reliably informed by good people that the absolute worst hypocrites are NAB, who simultaneously claim all kinds of virtues in their human rights, diversity and inclusion policies while treating sex workers like lesser human beings,” he stated.

“I’ll continue to publicly shame NAB until they change this disgraceful policy.”

NAB countered Mr Limbrick’s claims, commenting it still services independent sex workers, and its policy falls in line with the other major institutions.

The bank had decided earlier this year to stop servicing brothels and escort agencies, which a spokesperson said was to meet requirements under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act.

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“However, we do provide banking services to sex workers who operate independently and legally and have no plans to change this policy,” a NAB spokesperson said.

“We encourage customers who work in the sex industry to contact us for more information.”

‘Institutional discrimination’

It is not the first time that bank interactions with the industry have made headlines.

Two years ago, the Eros Association — which represents adult-only businesses including retailers and manufacturers — decried what it called “institutional discrimination” against the adult industry, stating that it “frequently receives complaints” from businesses.

“Overall, it appears financial service providers are treating adult-only businesses unfavourably on the basis of broad internal policies against the ‘adult industry’ rather than tailored assessments of financial risk,” it said.

Banks ‘undermining efforts to combat black economy’

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell hit out at the banks for “assum[ing the] role of moral compass for legitimate businesses”.

In a statement on the matter issued on Wednesday (11 September 2019), Ms Carnell said that her office “is continuously contacted by sex workers who have complained they have been denied banking services such as merchant facilities to allow them to conduct their business”.

“This is an ongoing issue and we have expressed our concerns to the Australian Banking Association and individual banks involved,” she said.

“There aren’t too many Australians who would rely on banks to be the moral arbiter for society.”

Ms Carnell said that by treating the sex industry as a whole unfavourably, rather than tailoring individual risk assessment, the banks’ actions are “not only unfair [but] they are undermining efforts to combat the black economy”.

“Bank accounts and financial services are essential for any legal business to operate,” she said.

“There are an estimated 25,000 people employed in the adult industry, which has an annual turnover of $2.6 billion.

“I encourage sex workers who feel they have been discriminated against by a financial service provider to contact ASBFEO for assistance.”

Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016. 

The two-time Publish Awards finalist has an extensive journalistic career across business, property and finance, including a four-year stint in the UK. Email Adam at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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NAB singled out as banks ‘slut-shame’ sex workers
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