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Customer-owned banks cooperate to provide flood support

An array of customer-owned entities has come together to provide a banking hub for the residents of the Northern Rivers city, Lismore.

A figure of six customer-owned banks has, in tandem with Southern Cross University, combined forces to deliver a new banking hub in the regional city of Lismore in response to the region’s flooding and its subsequent devastation.

Last month, northern NSW and South-East Queensland were slammed with a “rain bomb”, resulting in extensive flooding and destruction throughout the region.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet told reporters on Monday (7 March) that there were then almost 2,000 houses in the Northern Rivers alone considered uninhabitable.

Following the devastation, damaged infrastructure and mobile services have reportedly made banking a challenge for residents located in the region.

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Led by Summerland Credit Union, the coalition includes bcu, G&C Mutual Bank, Greater Bank, Newcastle Permanent and Southern Cross Credit Union, with the hub itself, open since Monday this week (7 March), located at Southern Cross University’s Goodman Plaza. 

Summerland chief executive John Williams said that the floods caused severe damage to customer-owned banking branches throughout Lismore, with “five branches being inundated and the sixth sustaining severe damage with flooding above the floor”. 

“We could see a need on the ground for affected customers to access in-person banking services. We were able to mobilise as a sector within days to get the hub off the ground,” he said. 

As per the Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA), additional ATMs as well as cash itself are being “airdropped in towns that have been hard hit by the severe floods in an effort to help people buy goods while systems are down and affected bank branches are not yet fully operational”. 

COBA CEO Mike Lawrence said that its members have a history of “rapidly mobilising to support their customers in need”.

“From bushfires to floods, getting cash into the hands of customers is paramount, as well as dealing with other pressing banking needs,” he said. 

“We are proud to see our members act with such haste once again. The fact that there are multiple institutions operating under the same roof shows that putting the needs of the community above all else comes first.

“We urge anyone affected by these devastating floods to get in touch with their customer-owned bank as soon as they are able, to discuss their options and find out what support is available.

“A number of mutual banks’ contact centre opening hours have also been extended to accommodate these extraordinary circumstances.” 

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that, following his observations of the natural disaster, further financial relief would be provided to impacted residents based in Richmond Valley, Lismore and Clarence Valley LGAs. 

At the time of writing, residents within the Byron Shire LGA, which contains the affected towns of Mullumbimby and Wilsons Creek, as well as the Ballina Shire LGA, have not been offered further financial assistance.

[Related: CBA expands flood support measures]

Customer-owned banks cooperate to provide flood support
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