Home' Connexus : Issue 46 Contents For example, bankmecu directs up to
4 per cent of net profts to community
investments that address social and
environmental issues identifed by
Australia’s frst customer-owned
bank, bankmecu is the only Australian
member of the Global Alliance for
Banking on Values. In July 2011, the
bank became carbon neutral with
the purchase of its Landbank (see
Because co-operatives are locally owned
and managed, boardroom decisions
tend to be made where outlets are
placed. This is especially important in
regional areas where co-operatives have
traditionally helped create local jobs and
build strong communities.
But not all ser vice blackspots are in
remote or regional areas. The National
Health Co-operative was set up four
years ago in Canberra’s western suburbs
to address a severe shortage of doctors.
At the time, there were no local GPs
for six suburbs. The co-operative now
serves 7 per cent of the entire Canberra
population, employing 48 medical and
administrative staff in six clinics.
If the nation’s policymakers need an
example of a community prepared to
do its own heavy lifting, here is one a
stone's throw from Parliament House.
Barbara Drury is a freelance writer.
Community health rst
Community First Credit Union is helping to paint
towns across Australia pink, one breast care nurse
at a time.
To date, the credit union has raised close to
$200,000 for the McGrath Foundation through its
McGrath Pink Visa Card and McGrath Pink Debit
Card. It donates half the credit card's annual fee
($20) and half the $2 monthly debit card fee to the
While listed companies and customer-owned
banking organisations both do good things for the
community, there is a di erence, says Community
First CEO John Tancevski.
"The reality is we only exist to serve our
customers. They are the people who are impacted
by the products and services we o er," he says.
So when it comes to investing funds back into
the community, it is important that every dollar
spent is seen to make a tangible contribution to the
customers' wellbeing, he says.
Breast cancer in the most commonly
diagnosed cancer among women in Australia,
a ecting one in eight women and touching
the lives of many more. The McGrath
Foundation is currently supporting its
100th community breast care nurse,
which Tancevski believes is in line with
Community First's values.
For the past two years, the McGrath Pink
Visa Card has been voted the best low-rate
credit card at the Australian Financial Review
Smart Investor Blue Ribbon Awards.
"It's possible to o er the best product
and be socially compelling at the same
time," he says.
Banking on the land
At rst glance, the business of banking appears
to have little in common with legless lizards and
raucous cockatoos. But bankmecu has managed to
join the dots.
"Our business wants to minimise negative
impacts on the community and the environment
from the business of banking," says Rowan Dowland,
bankmecu's general manager, development.
As part of its commitment to responsible banking,
the Conservation Landbank project was chosen
to o set the loss of biodiversity resulting from the
bank's core business of lending for new homes
and cars. Each time land is cleared to build a new
home there is a loss of biodiversity. Similarly, carbon
emissions increase with each new car loan.
"Our customers asked us how we could address
these issues," says Dowland.
bankmecu's response was to buy non-productive
farmland to restore and increase its biodiversity.
Every square metre of land cleared to build a new
home with a bankmecu loan is added to the
The properties already acquired form
a land bridge along the Victoria-South
Australia border, from the coast to the
Murray River. This allows endangered
species to migrate if their territory is
threatened by natural disaster or climate
The properties are equal in size to 464
Melbourne Cricket Grounds and contain the
largest stand of old-growth buloke trees in the
country. "We have shown in a tangible way
how the business of banking can make a
positive di erence." says Dowland.
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