Australia's 50th Community Bank opens in WA
After just three years, Bendigo Bank's unique Community Bank concept will reach another milestone, today opening its 50th Community Bank.
The launch of Mount Barker Community Bank is being celebrated not only as a community achievement, but also as recognition of the growing number of communities throughout Australia willing to work together and reverse the trend to secure their financial future.
Community Bank chief manager Russell Jenkins said today was an historic day not only for the people of Mount Barker, but for Bendigo Bank.
"We always knew a Community Bank concept would work, from the time Bendigo Bank opened its first Community Bank in regional Victoria three years ago," Mr Jenkins said.
"But the extent to which it has been embraced by Australian communities, from remote towns, to regional centres and metropolitan cities has exceeded all our expectations.
"Today's opening is significant in that Mount Barker is as far west from Bendigo as you could possibly travel and yet here we are, opening Bendigo Bank's 50th Community Bank.
"I have been privileged to attend all 50 Community Bank openings and this unique sense of community spirit and empowerment is the common denominator, from Rupanyup/Minyip in regional Victoria, to Galston in suburban Sydney and the Gold Coast in Queensland.
"Today, the range of communities which have embraced Community Banking is more diverse than we could ever have imagined. Community Banks successfully operate in regional towns where they are the only bank through to metropolitan suburbs which already have banking facilities," Mr Jenkins said.
Community Banks are now located in 50 communities in five States of Australia and have a combined banking business exceeding $1 billion and 100,000 accounts.
"We've always believed that Community Banking is more than simply banking, and after three years we are beginning to see that evolve in communities," Mr Jenkins said.
"Not only have these towns and suburbs seen a return of traditional, face to face banking services, they are also beginning to reward their shareholders and make significant financial contributions to the wider community."
Community Bank boards are beginning to consider how profits they are generating can be channelled back into the community. Many are already making significant financial contributions to the wider community.
Current projects include allocating money for local school scholarships and awards; establishment of a business centre and attracting professionals, in many cases for the first time in the town's history; building a walking track for a local school and offering scholarships to attract graduating nurses back to country towns
Demand for Community Banks continues to grow with Bendigo Bank working with up to 80 communities at any one time.
During the next 12 months, Bendigo Bank expects to open another 20 Community Banks, including the first sites for metropolitan Sydney.