Coleambally Community Bank® Branch 'an essential service'
The Riverina township of Coleambally today opened New South Wales' second Community Bank®.
The branch, the eighth in Bendigo Bank's growing Community Bank® network, was officially opened by Riverina MP Mrs Kay Hull and Bendigo Bank chairman Richard Guy OAM.
Mr Guy told the crowd there were "a million reasons to celebrate today's opening".
"Today we open your bank branch. You will decide what services it offers. You will decide when to open the doors. And, of course, its destiny will be controlled by your community, rather than some head office in Sydney.
"And you are off to a flying start, with more than a million dollars in business already written, even before you open the doors."
The branch, at 1 Brolga Place, will open for trading on Monday with a credit of more than one million dollars in business written during temporary banking days in the town over recent weeks.
Coleambally's bank will be overseen by a nine-person board comprising Bendigo Bank's head of Community Banking, Russell Jenkins, and eight locally-elected directors.
Local chairman Robert Fairweather told the opening day crowd that the residents and business people of Coleambally regarded branch banking as "an essential service".
"A local bank is essential in just the same way that roads, water and power are essential to the development of our region,"Mr Fairweather said.
"Although we are not totally without banking services, we have seen them decline to the point where many people feel agency-style services cannot provide the level of support we require.
"We are a strong irrigation district and we need the certainty that there will be a locally-based bank which is committed to helping our region grow.
"With our own bank branch, we can now go forward confident that not only have we secured basic banking services for our residents and businesses, but that we as a community can participate in the banking system from a position of strength."
Mr Fairweather paid tribute to members of the Coleambally Community Bank® Branch Committee "for the incredible work they have put in during the past few months".
"But I also wish to thank the Coleambally and district community for supporting us and making today a reality.
"It is easy to sit back and moan about services being taken from us; it is quite another to show the courage and the spirit to make a difference to our community.
"All that is left now is for people to carry through with their commitment and transfer their banking to our bank to ensure its success."
Mr Guy said Coleambally's Community Bank® branch would make a real contribution to the long-term health of the region's economy.
"For starters, it provides some employment and a guaranteed banking service.
"Longer-term, there is the prospect of profits which can be ploughed back into generating more economic activity.
"But perhaps most importantly, this shopfront which your community operates gives you a window to the finance system through which you can access many different services.
"In future, through Bendigo Bank's involvement in the Bendigo Stock Exchange project, this will include the capacity to attract investment capital to further develop your economic base."
Following today's official opening, the Coleambally branch was opened for public inspection.
Trading begins on Monday with opening hours Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.
The branch will initially be managed by Roy Baird, who managed Bendigo Bank's Wodonga branch for seven years. Customer service officers are Dale Young, Mary Thompson and Belinda Irvin.
"Their objective will be to provide efficient, friendly service,"Mr Fairweather said.
"As we expect things to be really busy in the first couple of weeks, they will be assisted by staff from Bendigo Bank.
"We do ask people to be understanding during this initial period."
Mr Fairweather said that for a limited time, the bank would waive bank establishment fees for customers switching lending business from other banks.
"We urge people to take advantage of this offer by contacting Coleambally Community Bank® Branch, telephone (02) 6954 4250"
Community Bank® branches of Bendigo Bank currently operate in Rupanyup and Minyip (Victorian Wimmera), Upwey (outer Melbourne), Lang Lang (south Gippsland), Henty (NSW Riverina), Toora (south Gippsland) and Avoca (central Victoria).