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Community Bank® pioneers celebrate success

18 July 2002 |Media centre

Central Victorian communities working to open Community Banks were buoyed today by news that Maldon's bank is set to declare a full year profit of around $90,000.

Community leaders in Charlton, Pyramid Hill and Rushworth will be particularly interested in Maldon's annual results, as all three towns are at various stages of Bendigo Bank's Community Bank® campaign.

"It's all getting very exciting for those communities and to hear of successes like Maldon - which has been open for just three years - shows them just what can be achieved by even small communities which are prepared to unite together," said Bendigo Bank's head of Community Banking, Russell Jenkins.

The news of Maldon's success came as the original pioneers of Community Bank® gathered in Bendigo to celebrate the birth of the movement. The directors of the Rupanyup/Minyip Community Bank® Branch will be hosted by Bendigo Bank at a luncheon to celebrate the four-year anniversary of the unique banking model which has been embraced by communities throughout Australia.

The neighbouring Wimmera wheat towns opened their branches on 26 June 1998. Like Maldon, they are now making substantial profits.

Mr Jenkins said these early sites had entered uncharted waters and embraced a unique banking model, which has proved to be an overwhelming success.

"We should never forget what the people of Rupanyup and Minyip have achieved, these communities put their faith in a banking model that was untested and questioned by many in the finance industry," Mr Jenkins said.

"We had absolutely no doubt that the Community Bank® model would work, particularly in communities like Rupanyup, Minyip and Maldon, all self-sufficient country towns with a strong sense of community.

"But in just four years, there are now branches in 72 diverse communities. The Community Bank® model 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 through to community-owned branches in the shadows of the Harbor Bridge.

"These communities may be miles apart but they have one thing in common, a sense of community empowerment and the ability to make a difference in their individual communities - this they have done, and much more."

The Community Bank® network has a combined banking business in excess of $1.75 billion and 154,000 accounts.

"These statistics are impressive enough, but even they are an inadequate measure of the real success of Community Bank®," Mr Jenkins said.

"They do not measure the joy on the faces of people who have for years seen services removed from their communities at the stroke of a pen. They do not measure the consequent lift in community morale when the bank opens. They fail to account for the pride locals feel in their achievement or the increased economic benefits.

"Nowhere in those statistics can we see Lang Lang's new business centre, funded by cash flow from its bank. There is now a swelling confidence of shopkeepers who have seen their takings increase by a quarter in the wake of the bank opening. And the glow of schoolchildren awarded Community Bank® scholarships is nowhere to be seen.

"Yet those intangibles are the real success story. Community Bank® was always going to be about much more than just banking - it is a community enhancement model. Having a bank back is beaut, but restoring the community's pride and sense of purpose is immeasurably more satisfying."

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