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Bendigo 'virtually' banks community sector

29 July 2002 |Media centre

Bendigo Bank and leading community sector bodies today announced the formation of a joint venture company to enhance the capacity of Australia's not-for-profit sector through the delivery of financial services.

The Bank's Managing Director, Rob Hunt, said the Community Sector Banking initiative was based on Bendigo's successful Community Bank model, with sector participants generating a revenue stream from their own banking activities.

Community Sector Banking, which will operate under Bendigo's banking authority, will be a branchless operation initially covering 19 sector participants including ACOSS, Brotherhood of St Laurence, NSW Federation of Housing and others.

The 19 partners have formed a company, Community 21, which will contract for Bendigo to provide banking services for member companies and other non-government organisations and will share in the margin and fee revenue generated.

"Community Sector Banking is based on the same aims, and the same principles, as Community Bank," Bendigo Bank managing director Rob Hunt said.

"We have always said the definition of community was a lot broader than simple geography. The not-for-profit sector is a clear community of interest to which the Community Bank model can apply.

"The participants will share in the responsibility of banking the sector - in their case, mustering the customer base - and will share in the rewards.

"Bendigo's responsibility is to show the sector how it can drive a better return from its capital and so enhance the services it provides to our community."

Community 21 chairman Alan Cox said the not-for-profit sector Australia-wide generated cash flows of around $20 billion per year.

"Ours is one of the biggest sectors in our economy and yet we are probably not well-understood. Bendigo is keen to explore ways in which we can leverage our current finances to improve our ability to invest in new facilities for our clients.

"Our discussions with Bendigo showed us that through combining our demand for banking services, rather than acting as individual bodies, we can derive a better return on our capital. The ultimate winners are our clients, who will benefit from improved services."

Bendigo Bank's head of strategic development, Greg Peel, said Community Sector Bank was "a virtual bank" with a range of specialised services being delivered electronically. "We have already begun to roll out some product to the sector and we will work with participants to develop other products specifically suited to their needs."

Community 21 members are: Australian Council of Social Service, Brotherhood of St Laurence, Jobs Australia, Scope (Vic), The Deaf-Blind Association (Vic), NSW Council of Social Service Access Community Group (Corrimal); Anglicare Tasmania; Business Enterprise Centre - Mersey (Devonport); Enterprise and Training Company (Coffs Harbour); Foresters and Friendly Society (Nundah); Gympie Skills Centre; Charities Aid Foundation (Chatswood); Newtrain (Tamworth); NSW Federation of Housing Associations; OEC Employment Agency (Dubbo); OzChild; St Lukes (Bendigo) and Youth Accommodation Assoc. (NSW).

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