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Community Bank® … from Sydney to the bush

21 March 2002 |Media centre

Sydney's first Community Bank® branch will officially open its doors for business at 9am today.

The official launch of Galston Community Bank® Branch by Immigration Minister Phillip Ruddock this Sunday completes Community Bank's three-year journey from rural Australia to the nation's premier city.

"We knew the concept would work for small country towns, but we were not sure how it would be received in the cities," said Bendigo Bank's head of Community Banking, Russell Jenkins. "But the range of communities which have embraced Community Banking is more diverse than we could ever have imagined.

"It now serves communities as diverse as small farming towns, regional service centres, outer suburban fringes and inner suburbs in capital cities in five States of Australia. We have branches shaded by gum trees and this weekend we begin to open branches in the home of the Harbor Bridge.

"Sunday's opening is significant in that Community Bank® has now been embraced by a growing number of communities in the nation's biggest city, as far from the first branch in Rupanyup/Minyip as you could imagine."

Although Galston Community Bank® will be launched for the first time on Sunday, the branch is off to a flying start with banking business of $6 million already on its books.

Galston locals have had the chance to commit to the new branch by opening an account at a temporary agency in the Sydney suburb.

Galston Community Bank® Branch Chairman Ralph Steele said: "We have been knocked over by the response to our temporary Community Bank® facility".

"This initial response reinforces the fact that the people of Galston really want to bank with their locally-owned Community Bank®. This really is an historic event, not only are we returning branch banking to Galston, we are also opening Sydney's first Community Bank® branch."

Galston is the first of five Sydney communities to open a Community Bank®, with others scheduled to open in Homebush, Clovelly, Harbord and Strathfield in coming months. Other communities are in development stage.

An official launch will be held at Galston Community Bank® Branch beginning at 3pm on Sunday, the branch to be officially opened by the local Member for Berowra Philip Ruddock M.P., Galston Community Bank® Branch directors and Bendigo Bank.

Mr Jenkins said after less than four years, Bendigo's Community Bank® model was continuing to prove its resilience and strength in markets from all spectrums of the country, with 59 branches now open.

"The Community Bank® model was initially aimed at towns like Victorian grain-growing towns Rupanyup and Minyip which had lost all their banking services and were looking for an alternative.

"Amazingly, the second community to approach us was a suburban Melbourne site, not unlike Galston, and the concept has continued to go from strength to strength. Some communities are currently making monthly surpluses in excess of $10,000 from their locally-owned branches."

Mr Jenkins said Bendigo Bank had made a commitment to Sydney community, not only with the opening of five community-owned banks within the next six months, but also the official launch of a company-owned branch in Parramatta next Monday. A further two company owned branches are due to open in coming months.

"We are continuing to respond to community demand and opening new branches throughout New South Wales, and Australia," Mr Jenkins said. "In this particular case, the winners will the residents and businesses of Galston who are being given the option to choose a new style of banking - Community Banking."

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