The Mirror News

Toora and Foster Community Bank’s 25th

• Bendigo Bank’s Toora and Foster Community Bank celebrated its 25th birthday on Friday March 22, 2024, with a cupcake cutting ceremony, free barbecues at both the Toora and the Foster branches, showbags, especially baked and iced biscuits in Bendigo Bank’s corporate colours, and gatherings of past and present board members, staff and account holders.

A LIVE radio show by local Gippsland station South Coast FM and cupcakes iced in the Bendigo Bank colours of plum and coral marked the Toora and Foster Community Bank’s 25th birthday celebrations on Friday March 22, 2024.

Corner Inlet district people, including all Community Bank contributors and account holders, had the choice of two birthday parties, one held outside the Toora branch in Stanley Street and the other in front of the Foster branch in Main Street.

Both events featured free barbecued sausages in bread, cooked with equally high spirits by the Lions Club of Toora and the Rotary Club of Foster in their respective townships, and served with especially commissioned and glazed biscuits for dessert.

Bendigo Bank showbags filled with an activity book, coloured pencils, a notepad and pen, banking information, the latest Toora and Foster Community Bank Newsletter, a water bottle, a ruler and a bookmark, certainly attracted a great rate of interest!

At Toora, Sam’s Patch haberdashery provided the power and a safe parking spot for South Coast FM’s outside broadcast van just a little further along Stanley Street from the Community Bank branch itself.

In a fascinating on-air partnership with South Coast FM presenter Linda Fenton, Toora and Foster Community Bank board chair Jan Bull talked with a series of people who have formed strong connections to the branch during the past quarter century.

Among those interviewed were members of the group of concerned and committed locals who originally came up with and supported the idea of opening a Community Bank branch of the Bendigo Bank in Toora which, with great fanfare and pride, occurred in 1999, the sixth in Australia in a network that now numbers over 300.

The Foster branch of what was then known as Toora and District Community Bank  officially opened in 2007.

Behind the Toora and Foster Community Bank is the Promontory District Finance Group Limited and one of its founding members and current board director, Clive White, spoke with Ms Bull during South Coast FM’s segment.

Also heard on air were the Bendigo Bank’s Regional Community Bank Relationship Manager, Tania Hansen; Regional Manager Caitlin Cooper, and Toora and Foster Community Bank Branch Manager Katie Fraser.

Ms Bull enjoyed conversations with representatives of many community groups and organisations that have benefitted from a share of the more than $1.7 million that the Toora and Foster Community Bank has returned to the wider Prom district in the form of grants since its inception.

Among these were Sue Plowright of Manna Gum Community House in Foster; Linden Dyson of the Toora Football Netball Club; Marge Arnup of the Fish Creek Tea Cosy Festival, Prom Coast Festival’s Julia Merrington, and Foster’s South Gippsland Hospital Auxiliary president Trish Shee.

Dianne Paragreen appeared on the South Coast FM program on behalf of the Foster Arts Music and Drama Association (FAMDA), along with Robbie Davidson for the Foster Show, Prom Country Aged Care (PCAC) CEO Paula Gibb, Foster Secondary College Music Department teacher Rebecca Bone, and Alex Berry for both the Toora Community Action Team (TCAT) and the Toora CFA Fire Brigade.

Ms Bull later addressed the gathering of about 50 partygoers, which included more of the Community Bank’s founders and backers, past and present board members and staff, and current and maybe even some prospective account holders, as well as a number of community funding recipients.

“The Corner Inlet area is what the Toora and Foster Community Bank branch of the Bendigo Bank is all about,” she said.

“You’re an owner of this Community Bank if you are an account holder; we work for you.”

Ms Bull thanked the members of the Community Bank’s steering committee for their insight and their investment in terms of the amount of time, the range of expertise and the level of seeding finance contributed to establish the branch 25 years ago.

Bendigo Bank Regional Community Bank Relationship Manager, Ms Hansen said the Toora and Foster Community Bank’s 25 birthday was “a significant milestone for the local community to celebrate.”

She urged those present to “reflect on the success of this branch through its journey from its beginning to now and its direct impact on the lives of the people in this community.

“There are three things needed for a branch such as this, and they are the Bendigo Bank, a local board and a community, and if we have all three entities working together, we have a successful Community Bank,” Ms Hansen said.

“When Toora and district people decided to open a Bendigo Bank Community Bank branch 25 years ago it was largely untried and untested; a new banking model, and the local community got right behind the steering committee in those early days,” she said.

“Now your banking is feeding into the future prosperity of your area.”


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