Community support brings back services

Inspired by the success of similar ventures in small towns elsewhere, Western Australia's Shire of Goomalling has reestablished banking services for its community of 1,100 people. Chief Executive Officer Clem Kerp said the establishment of the community bank has been a triumph of community action.

Having read about other communities which had rallied to establish community banking services in the wake of the major banks withdrawing, Council representatives attended several conferences and workshops to ascertain the viability of such a service in Goomalling.

Following this, officers from the Bank of Bendigo, which has facilitated several such ventures, were invited to assist with establishing a community bank for Goomalling. It needed at least 50% community support to be viable.

Clem Kerp said many small communities may not think it is possible to establish independent banking services, but he said it can be done if there is sufficient community support. "Establishing a banking service like this needs the full backing of the community," he said. "It is the most important ingredient and it has been achieved here. There has been vigorous community involvement."

Testament to this was some 500 people who attended the gala launch of the Bank described as a marvellous and fantastic day for the Goomalling community.

The bank has been set up with start up capital of $268,000 with Council contributing $25,000 to establishment costs. It is open weekdays from 10 to 4 and later on Fridays. "In rural areas opening times need to be geared towards the end of the day to tie in with other business in Town," Clem Kerp said.

The Bank's Board of Directors has agreed that for the first five years net profit will accrue to shareholders which include 200 local people. Once fully established half of net profit will return to Bendigo Bank and half will go to the community and shareholders.

Clem Kerp said it has been a tremendously successful exercise noting that on just the third day of trading the bank staff of four had been kept extremely busy. "We are looking forward to a very bright future," he said.

For further information contact Clem Kerp telephone (08) 9629 1101.