8 July 2021

We're all in this together: how banking put $4 million back into the community

| Lottie Twyford
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Braidwood Community Bank

The grand opening of Braidwood Community Bank on September 6, 2002. Photo: PFSL.

The start of the new financial year also marked the 15th birthday of the Bungendore Community Bank which was celebrating its part in contributing a whopping $4 million towards projects in the Braidwood and Bungendore communities.

It’s a classic tale of banding together to get the job done because locals who choose to bank with these banks see the tangible impact their money can have on the local community.

In Bungendore, projects have ranged from the shade covering at the Mick Sherd Oval, upgrading tennis courts and implementing showground infrastructure as well as the establishment of the Men’s Shed and providing hampers to those in need.

Nearby in Braidwood, the Community Bank has supported groups like APEX, the Lions and the CWA, as well as the broader arts and cultural sector, the RFS and Emergency Services and local sporting organisations.

The vision for the community banks began to stir two decades ago. In 2001, a group of community members in Braidwood envisioned providing banking services locally by creating their own Bendigo Community Bank.

As well as providing banking services, the goal was always to strengthen the community.

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The Braidwood branch came to fruition in 2002 while Bungendore followed four years later in July 2006.

Both banks are operated by Palerang Financial Services Ltd (PFSL) and can now proudly say they deliver a full suite of banking services in the region including extending community funding to projects in the areas of Araluen, Captains Flat, Mongarlowe, Nerriga and Tarago.

group of people outside

Braidwood Central School’s award-winning Agricultural Studies Class was sponsored by the local Community Bank. Photo: PFSL.

PFSL Chair Shane Holness said despite all of their success the core mission remains the same and is two-pronged.

“We are locally driven to deliver financial services.

“Then, we use the profits to invest in community projects of all shapes and sizes, year on year, and sometimes deliver that once-in-a-lifetime fantastic idea,” he said.

Mr Holness says the community banks are essential to supporting the vibrancy and diversity of activities and services available within the communities.

While there is currently an agency in Crookwell, the community is showing keen interest in the Bendigo Community Bank model, too.

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As well as working directly to deliver project outcomes, both branches of the Community Bank have also partnered with other parties to leverage support for larger initiatives.

An example of these includes the Scout Hall in Bungendore and improvements to the Recreation Grounds in Braidwood.

Mr Holness said that as well as delivering community projects, the banks are also supporting local employment and the use of local services.

“For those who are shareholders in the business we, where possible, deliver an annual dividend as a reward for their investment,” he explained.

Mr Holness thanked customers and staff in the area for their support.

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