Providing the building blocks for childcare businesses and health professions

  • By Zilla Efrat

Westpac is introducing a raft of changes that will make it easier for childcare businesses and health professions to access funding and increase its female workforce across home and business lending.

For childcare centre operators, it is introducing more flexible lending criteria and priority services, including reduced equity requirements and competitive lending rates and establishment fees. It also has dedicated business bankers to support childcare businesses looking to expand.

“The New South Wales Government recently announced a $5 billion childcare growth plan and other governments are pursuing similar policy objectives,” explains Chris de Bruin, Westpac CEO of consumer and business banking.

“Providing access to fast and competitive finance will be essential to support growth in the childcare sector.

“When government policy and corporate sector commitment are aligned, change can be driven quickly. We know that access to finance is a key barrier to expansion, so we’re making it easier for childcare businesses to get the funding they need to grow.”

In another move, Westpac recently updated the criteria for its Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI) Waiver to include eight further allied health professions, which have strong female workforce representation.

Eligible customers can access a loan-to-value ratio (LVR) of up to 90 per cent without the additional cost of LMI.

“Home ownership is still one of the most common paths to wealth accumulation in Australia but saving the traditional 20 per cent of the value of a property purchase price can take prospective buyers years to achieve,” says de Bruin.

“We have recently expanded our LMI Waiver to include additional health professions, like speech pathologists and occupational therapists, where women make up most of the workforce. This will enable more women to purchase their own homes sooner with a reduced deposit and without the expense of mortgage insurance.”

To complement our new childcare sector lending growth plan, de Bruin says Westpac will also be lifting women’s participation across its lending workforce, where females have historically been underrepresented in lending roles.

He says women employees will have access to a development and upskilling program to transition to home and business lending roles, with a goal to increase female participation within Westpac’s home and business lending workforce. Up to 100 roles will be made available to employees and external applicants.