GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY: Bendigo Bank chairman Don Gaske, Branch manager Katy McKenzie and director/deputy chairman Nev Winter.
GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY: Bendigo Bank chairman Don Gaske, Branch manager Katy McKenzie and director/deputy chairman Nev Winter. Liana Walker

$35,000 in grants distributed

OVER the past two years since it first opened, the Stanthorpe Community Bank, Branch of Bendigo Bank, has distributed more than $35,000 in grants and sponsorships to local groups.

Board chairman Don Gaske said this week the bank, which celebrated its two-year anniversary at the end of last month, was proud "to be doing something for the community rather than taking something out”.

"We opened on February 29, so we only have a birthday every four years, but we had a cake on February 28,” Mr Gaske

said.

"We've given to Artworks Granite Belt who help people with disability around the district, sporting organisations, the new rowing club, the Snowflakes in Stanthorpe biannual festival, and we gave away water and ponchos at the Stanthorpe Show,” he said of the time they've been open.

Mr Gaske said community banks reinvested 100% of their profits back to local communities rather than overseas investors.

"We are actually owned by 248 local shareholders so you have to be local to own shares in the community bank,” he said.

"80% goes back to community organisations such as sponsorships, or grants and people can put in applications for those, and 20% to shareholders.”

He said community banks were established 18 years ago and there's now about 318 across Australia which had, at the end of last month, given back $186 million to communities around Australia, especially small regional towns.

"Community banking is the way of the future,” Mr Gaske said.

"In the last couple of years here, Westpac closed their in-store agent, Suncorp closed, ANZ is closing on April 24, and Heritage closed in Texas.

"We opened an agency in Texas. Community banks work completely different to corporate banks.

"We're growing and advertising for a full-time staff member right

now.”

Mr Gaske said a board of 10 volunteer directors makes the decisions about the operation of the branch, including premises, staff, advertising sponsorships, grants, budgets and setting a strategic plan, while the branch manager, using Bendigo Bank policies, makes all the decisions regarding loans and investments.

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