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Monday, 23 June 2003
Page: 17165

Mr BARRESI (1:56 PM) —Last Friday in East Ringwood I had the pleasure of opening the 98th branch of the Bendigo Bank Community Bank. The project has been going for over 18 months after the Commonwealth Bank closed its doors in April last year. The vision, commitment and endeavour of the local traders to open a community bank is a big win not only for the traders in East Ringwood but more importantly for the spirit of community which is all too often questioned in a large metropolis such as Melbourne. Where possible I have been more than happy to offer my assistance and encouragement to the local community in establishing this community bank. About 12 months ago the chairman, Stuart Greig, and his committee and I called for pledges of support to get the project running. Having achieved their target of raising $600,000, last Friday we were able to join with the kids of Eastwood Primary School and Ringwood Secondary College to celebrate a great day for the community.

It is generally felt that the community bank will be a big success because of the contribution by so many local people. They will now be able to enjoy the good old-fashioned service that local banks were traditionally renowned for. The bank has provided jobs to people in the local area and through its charter will be able to, in due course, distribute 50 per cent of all profits back into the community through the grants program. The first of these grants was made last Friday. Congratulations to Stuart Greig and his committee. I look forward to another branch in Blackburn South—another part of my electorate—opening very soon to demonstrate once again that community spirit is well and truly alive in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.