The Deloraine and Districts Community Bank® Branch of Bendigo Bank Ltd opened its doors in the main shopping area of the town on July 27th 2005. The idea for its establishment had first captured the imagination of a small group of residents in early 2000‚ not long after the first community banks were set up in small rural communities in Western and south-eastern Victoria. The new banks' success in supporting the community development aspirations of their residents inspired the local committee to formalise the process and seek support from Bendigo Bank for a project to commence in Deloraine.
Deloraine and Districts Community Bank®
The committee considered that Deloraine and its surrounding district would be an ideal location for a Community Bank® . The community is diverse‚ progressive and vibrant with many thriving and developing industries‚ including agriculture and tourism. The community has shown its ability to work together to support change and development and has an energetic mix of small business‚ craftspeople and artists and a well-developed service club infrastructure.
Although Deloraine was served by two existing bank branches‚ the local committee felt that the interests of the community‚ particularly in the medium and long-term would be well served by securing a Community Bank® with a local manager and a guarantee of secure banking services into the future. By 2002‚ the Committee had expanded to reflect the broad diversity of the community and formal arrangements to progress the project had been agreed between the committee and Bendigo Bank. For the next two years the committee worked hard to explain the concept and benefits of community banking to residents of the wider Meander Valley area. In order to move to the feasibility study stage of the project‚ the committee needed to have raised $500‚000 in indicative pledges of support for future share purchases for the bank. The committee had achieved this challenging target by July 2004 after a concerted campaign involving addresses to local clubs and organizations‚ street stalls‚ market and local show attendances‚ visits to and discussions with community leaders‚ mail-outs and notices in the local press‚ radio interviews and public meetings. Community support for the concept was boosted by the opening in May 2004 of the community banks at Geeveston and Dover‚ in Tasmania's south-west‚ the first community banks in Tasmania.
Members of the committee together with several supporters of the bank funded the feasibility survey which was conducted in August 2004 by an independent company‚ together with representatives from Bendigo Bank Ltd. As part of the process‚ a number of community leaders and representatives of local groups were interviewed‚ and a survey was mailed to all households in the Meander Valley area to assess community support for the bank. Following a favourable assessment‚ Meander Valley Financial Services Ltd was established to progress the sale of shares‚ and the leasing and fit-out of the premises.
The original committee became the first Deloraine and Districts Community Bank® Board of 14 members which meets monthly to plan and review the bank's performance and progress. The Board has established a number of sub-committees to address aspects of the company's management. These include‚ policy‚ public relations and marketing‚ finance‚ accommodation and events‚ business development‚ human resources and secretariat. These sub-committees meet regularly and report to the Board. All Directors are volunteers and there are no paid officers of the company. The Board is elected by the company's shareholders at the AGM.
Progress to date has been very pleasing. With the bank about to celebrate the first anniversary of its opening‚ over 1000 customers have chosen to open accounts with the bank‚ and the level of support in the community has been very good and continues to grow rapidly. The Board has already provided several sponsorship awards to local schools and clubs and looks forward to increasing its sponsorship and development activities to the community into the future.
Establishing the Bank
A significant amount of work and public consultation has been undertaken in relation to the feasibility of establishing the Deloraine and District Community Bank® Branch of Bendigo Bank.
A group of interested community members was briefed by Bendigo Bank in relation to the proposal to establish Deloraine and District Community Bank® Branch‚ and a committee formed to evaluate the proposal.
A preliminary public meeting was held to discuss the Community Bank® concept and the steps required to establish a Community Bank® Branch of Bendigo at Deloraine and District. As a result the committee engaged an independent consultant‚ AFS & Associates Pty Ltd to conduct a feasibility study in relation to the proposal.
The results of the feasibility study were presented to the committee at a meeting held on 18 August 2004 and it was unanimously voted to proceed towards the establishment of the Deloraine and District Community Bank® Branch.