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Connexus : Issue 36
NEWS 6 connexus www.abacus.org.au Credit union mecu was presented with the Sustainable Small Company of the Year Award by Ethical Investor magazine at its 10th annual Australian Sustainability Awards in December. Trent Moy, general manager of corporate sustainability at CBA, which sponsored the award, said mecu was "a well-established leader in responsible investment with an ethical policy covering all its assets". Judges of the award praised mecu's support for disadvantaged groups, environmental programs and spirit of innovation, adding that its governance "combines a balance between stakeholder Abacus and the Friendly Societies Association have commissioned research to establish a stronger case for encouraging saving for life events and to identify ways to increase the uptake of friendly society products. The research, conducted by the Australian Centre for Financial Studies, will: • Map the 'savings psyche' of Australians. • Explore the impact of tax and social security on preparation for life events and product uptake. • Explore potential product innovations related to changes in public policy, particularly taxation. • Consider high-level government policy options that could address the lack of saving for life events. The research, which will be released in May, will support the Abacus industry advocacy agenda, which includes securing tax incentives to save and plan for life events, increase awareness of the industry and its products, and simplify the regulatory regime applying to friendly societies. Meanwhile, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority is continuing industry consultations as part of its review of life and general insurance capital, which is set to have a significant impact on friendly societies. Abacus made a submission to the review at the beginning of the year. While it was generally supportive of the principles APRA has adopted, it noted a number of circumstances where capital requirements could increase across the industry -- an outcome APRA says it is not seeking. Draft standards and a response to the submission were expected in April. -- Daniel Newlan, senior adviser, policy and public affairs, Abacus interest and financial strength". mecu general manager of development Rowan Dowland says the award is a strong acknowledgement of the credit union's responsible approach to banking, especially when the federal government was recognising the need to improve competition in the banking sector. "Credit unions and building societies are strong, secure and regulated the same way as banks. And we are ready to put competition back into retail banking and give Australian consumers a better deal. "We also have the ability to give back to the communities we serve, which has been shown by this award," Dowland says. It was the second gong for mecu in 2010, following the 2010 Victorian Good Corporate Citizen of the Year award. Vision for reconciliation Meanwhile, mecu has committed to pursuing reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians. The credit union believes an appropriately diverse and representative workforce in Australia cannot be achieved without the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and, as such, will be participating in the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program. RAP has been developed in collaboration with Reconciliation Australia to provide clear actions and realistic targets to guide mecu in contributing to closing the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and other Australians. mecu says the most appropriate way for it to pursue its contribution to the reconciliation process is to identify and address issues specific to Indigenous Australians that align with its business niche of banking and financial literacy. For more information, visit www.mecu.com.au and search for Reconciliation Action Plan. Win for mecu Researching the savings psyche