by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Connexus : Issue 42
In the wake of nature's fury Mutuals have once again been quick to respond to the needs of members and communities affected by extreme summer weather conditions. BY CAROLYN RANCE Severe fooding on Australia’s east coast and raging fres in Tasmania and Victoria have had credit union and building society staff thinking on their feet and responding with a 'whatever it takes’ spirit. The situation was reminiscent of summer 2011, when foods, cyclones and power cuts shut down commercial centres, including the Brisbane CBD, for periods ranging from a few hours to several days. This time Bundaberg was one of those badly damaged, after it was hit by widespread fooding that followed January’s Cyclone Oswald. Heritage Bank's Bundaberg branch, which had been open for barely fve months, closed for two days because staff couldn't get to work. Most of them used the time to do volunteer work in their communities. In 2011, about one in fve of the Toowoomba-based bank's branches were closed for varying periods after a wall of water swept through the inland town and down the Lockyer Valley towards Brisbane. The Bellbowrie branch, in a suburban Brisbane shopping centre, was inundated to ceiling level and didn’t reopen. "This time none of our branches was damaged, except for one mini-branch in the newsagency in the small town of Lockyer, and it reopened after about 10 days," says Paul Francis, Heritage Bank's general manager -- retail ser vices. “A few other branches were closed for a day or so, but only because staff couldn’t reach them.” Horrifying stories When staff did manage to get back to work, the priority was helping the affected members. "Our Bundaberg people heard some horrifying stories and helped out as best they could, printing out information from government websites and making sure everyone had the information they needed about assistance and insurance," says Francis. Staff heard from members whose homes were damaged and from people whose investment properties were washed away and whose businesses had been fooded. Francis says neither the 2011 foods nor this year’s storms had a signifcant effect on Heritage's bottom line, but they did reinforce the role of mutuals in working closely with those affected and advising all members on risk management. "Opting out of insurance is a huge gamble. As a retail fnancial institution, it is part of our role to make people aware of the risks they face. No-one wants to pay for insurance, but it is a huge risk to choose not to.” Offers of help Support on a personal level was also 14 Connexus NEWS