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First Community Bank® celebrates a profitable birthday

25 June 1999 |Media centre

Australia's first Community Bank® is now making an operating profit for its local owners.

Chairman David Matthews announced the milestone today on the eve of the first birthday of the Rupanyup/Minyip Community Bank® branch of Bendigo Bank.

Mr Matthews said that with more than half of the residents of the neighbouring Wimmera towns now banking locally, the branch was beginning to return a profit to the community.

"For the past couple of months, our income has exceeded our monthly expenses,"Mr Matthews said.

"Our branch has been open for 12 months now and our achievements have been deeply gratifying.

"Our business volumes are comfortably ahead of budget, we have already employed extra staff, we have expanded our opening hours and we are now beginning to see profits flow back to the community.

"The bottom line is that the concept works."

Mr Matthews said the euphoria which greeted the opening of the twin branches 12 months ago had given way to a "deep satisfaction that two tiny towns in the Wimmera are at the forefront of an Australia-wide movement".

"A year ago everyone was enamored with the concept of Community Banking. Bendigo Bank knew the model would work but wondered if communities could respond to the challenge to be part of the solution.

"Well ours was the first, and now we are the first of a network of ten branches across Victoria and NSW. Five more are already scheduled to open, another 20 or so communities are in various stages of business planning and by the end of the year we are likely to see branches opening in South and Western Australia.

"Residents of our district now realise the significant impact our joint initiative with Bendigo Bank has had on many towns across Australia."

The residents gather today, first in Minyip, then Rupanyup, for a party to celebrate their bank's first birthday.

Guest of honor, Bendigo Bank Group Managing Director Rob Hunt, paid tribute to "the enormous courage, initiative and community spirit displayed by the Rupanyup/Minyip district".

"Your example has inspired communities across Australia to say, 'There is another way - we have the capacity to develop solutions for our own future'.

"You have proven that local communities can make a difference to their own circumstances - that your future doesn't have to be dictated to you by people outside your district.

"Within a year, you have re-established banking services in your towns and developed a profitable banking business.

"But even more importantly, you now have a firm foundation on which to further develop your community's prospects."

Mr Hunt said that in recognition of Rupanyup/Minyip's "significant achievements", Bendigo Bank would make a yearly contribution to the local bank board towards market development initiatives.

"This payment is not by way of subsidy, it is an investment by Bendigo Bank on which we know we will obtain a return.

"Our Bank and your community are partners in this venture and if we can further help your community to become more successful, then we, too, will be more successful."

Mr Matthews said the Rupanyup/Minyip board was now exploring options to deliver "wider benefits" through the Community Bank®.

"Now that a growing number of Community Banks are opening, we are starting to see a buying group effect emerging and we believe we can attract more services and facilities for our people."

Mr Hunt said Bendigo Bank continued to work on initiatives to enhance the value of Community Bank® branches to their communities.

"We have only scratched the surface,"he said. "We do not under-estimate Community Bank's potential as a potent force in regional development.

"There is no shortage of leaders in regional Australia. All they need are opportunities to unite, involve and engage their communities in activities to improve their own prospects."

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