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13 March 2008 |Media centre

Bendigo Bank today announced it would form a Community Bank® Strategic Advisory Board principally drawn from volunteer directors across Australia.

They will be joined by key strategic Bank representatives to form a peak body focusing on key opportunities to enhance community and business prospects.

The advisory board will respond to and provide reports for consideration by the Bank’s executive and at times the principal Board.

Bendigo Bank Managing Director Rob Hunt described the Bank’s initiative as “the logical extension of what has developed over the past decade into a powerful business and community partnership”.

“The Bank has developed a comprehensive view of what is possible in community and through community enterprises. We possess the commercial skills and have developed over time – like our community partners – a passion for what a business and community partnership can achieve by working together on common goals.

“But despite our many successes to date, so much can be achieved that is yet to be tackled. This advisory board is to focus on how those issues might be addressed, and how the Community Banks might play a part in the development of such solutions.”

The advisory board will represent the views and experience of more than 200 Community Banks and almost 2000 local directors. It will comprise six directors elected by their peers, two appointed by Bendigo Bank and five bank representatives.

Mr Hunt said the advisory board gave an important strategic voice to “our grassroots partners – those directors who are closest to the opportunities and issues in front of community”.

“In almost ten years of community banking, we have found we learn as much from our communities as we can teach them. We might know banking and have strong commercial knowledge, but communities have taught us a lot more about the power of community to engage with business to produce outcomes of benefit to both.

Community Bank® now comprises more than half of our branch distribution network and it is important to our company that we harness the knowledge and experience of the very best strategic thinkers across that broad group.”

Mr Hunt said the advisory board would focus on strategic, not operational issues. “We want directors to focus on the big ticket items – development of new community solutions, sustainability, strengthening the reputation of the community model, and innovation.

“A number of important innovations have already emerged from the Community Bank® network, including a bio-diesel initiative to encourage farmers to use cleaner, greener fuel and retain more capital locally in the process.

“That idea has become a pilot project that is distributing almost four million litres of fuel across two Victorian farming districts and has enormous potential for communities and the bank.

“It is the type of thinking we want to encourage and we are convinced the advisory board structure will become a peak forum through which significant strategies will emerge.”

Elections will be held by mid-year and the advisory board will meet for the first time in July.

The advisory board will be co-chaired by a community director and a Bendigo Bank representative. The inaugural community chairman will be David Matthews of Rupanyup-Minyip Community Bank®, the branches that pioneered community banking almost a decade ago. The Bank-appointed co-chair is former Bendigo Bank director Neal Axelby.

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