The Mirror News

Community reaps rewards of community banking

COMMUNITY banking is thriving in the Corner Inlet district and the community is reaping the rewards.

Thanks to the growing numbers of individuals and community groups choosing to bank with the Toora and District Community Bank and Foster branches of the Bendigo Bank, more than $88,000 worth of grants was distributed to local community groups at a presentation evening at Welshpool Memorial Hall last Tuesday.

By far the largest grant was a $30,000 Community Enterprise Foundation Grant to Prom Country Aged Care, which the president of the PCAC committee of management, Sandy Bucello, was thrilled to receive. PCAC received a further $4000 from the community bank’s Telco arrangement, which brings the total commission received over the years to $18,000.

Allen Van Kuyk, the president of the Promontory District Finance Group – the board of the Toora and District Community Bank Branch and the Foster branch of the Bendigo Bank – was unable to attend the presentation evening. In his stead board member Rob Liley, assisted by fellow board members and staff of the local community bank branches, handed out the grants to the excited representatives of about twenty different community groups.

Mr Liley said that enterprising community members got together and established a community bank branch of the Bendigo Bank thirteen years ago – in January 1999 – to fill a vacuum created by the loss of banking facilities in the Toora district. Since then, he said, the branch had grown and prospered and a few years ago another branch was established in Foster.

He said that the concept of community banking, in which profits are returned to the community, had gone right around Australia. Under this successful model more than 200 community banks have been established and millions of dollars have been pumped back into communities around the country. Locally, more than $600,000 has been delivered to the Toora and district community in the thirteen years since the local community bank was established.

Mr Liley urged people to bank with their local community bank – and so ensure the money for community enterprises keeps coming in ever increasing amounts.

He invited John Stone, the manager of Toora and District Community Bank branch, to hand out this latest round of grants made possible by the bank’s profits – Community Enterprise Foundation Grants, Challenge Grants and Sponsorships.

This, said Mr Liley, would be one of Mr Stone’s last public duties, as he is shortly to step down as bank manager. On behalf of the board Mr Liley praised Mr Stone for the “absolutely fantastic” work he has put in over eleven years at the helm of the community bank branch.

Assisted by various board members and bank staff members, Mr Stone then presented the grants. As they received their grant, each recipient explained how the money would be used.

Community Enterprise Foundation Grants

  • $4500 to the Friends of the Prom Inc. for replacement of storm and flood damaged materials at Tidal River;
  • $1354 to South Coast Board Riders Club for surfing equipment and the provision of lessons by local surfer ‘Bones’ Eckersall;
  • $1700 to Mt Best Community Hall Association for audiovisual equipment;
  • $3000 to Foster Primary School for its kitchen garden program;
  • $2300 to Foster War Memorial Arts Centre for trolley mechanisms so that tables and chairs can be wheeled out;
  • $3550 to Meeniyan Progress Association Inc. for a barbecue shelter at Tanderra Park;
  • $1500 to Friends of Toora Heritage Pear Orchard Inc. for toilet and picnic tables for the orchard;
  • $2120 to Toora RSL Sub-branch towards refurbishing the RSL building;
  • $5000 to Port Welshpool Coast Guard for a feasibility study for a new building;
  • $3000 to Meeniyan Mechanics Institute for electrical work on the old hall;
  • $1800 to Prom Coast U3A for computers.

Community Sponsorships

  • $4000 to Toora Community Hall & Library Inc. for floor refurbishment;
  • $3500 to T.P. Taylor Reserve Committee of Management for an honour wall for donors to the Sandy Point Community Centre building fund;
  • $2000 to Gippsland Mountain Trail Bike Inc. for promotion of a mountain bike trail in the Foster area;
  • $2000 to Foster Bowling Club for repainting Foster Bowls Club rooms;
  • $4000 to Fish Creek Tennis Club for portable nets to make it easier for the tennis and netball clubs to share the courts;
  • $1000 for Foster Uniting Church for painting and repairing the building;
  • $1000 for Toora Uniting Church for tree removal.

Challenge Grant

  • $6000 to South Gippsland Hospital for its Youth Assist Clinic.

Scholarship Program

  • $5000 to local student Dylan Williams to begin his tertiary studies, with the potential of a further $5000 for him next year.

The final presentation was made by board member Llew Vale. He presented representatives of Prom Country Aged Care with their enormous grant of $30,000. PCAC committee of management president Sandy Bucello said that the money would go towards a sensory garden at the new facility. Thanking Mr Vale and all at the community bank most sincerely for this funding and the additional $4000 in Telco commissions, Ms Bucello said that PCAC’s building fund total had now reached $1.4 million which meant it had passed the halfway mark to the target of $2.707 million.


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