Flinders Council was invited as a witness to the Senate Inquiry into Bank closures in regional Australia. This opportunity allowed us to convey to our federal elected representatives the potential impact the closure of our sole bank agency could have on our community. Accompanied by our General Manager, Warren Groves, and Kylie Clifford, the owner of our local Bendigo Bank Agency and Australia Post office, we aimed to present a comprehensive perspective.
Kylie effectively highlighted the limitations of the bank@post service and emphasised the critical necessity for our community to have access to a face-to-face banking service.
During our session with the Committee, we felt a genuine understanding of the unique circumstances we face on Flinders Island. Unlike in more densely populated areas, simply driving to the nearest town is not an option for us. We will have to travel by planes or boats. Furthermore, not everyone in our community can easily transition to online banking due to varying reasons such as lack of skills, access to technology, or unreliable internet service.
The Committee acknowledged that, despite the ongoing transition towards a 'cashless' society, many remote, rural and even regional communities, still operate on a cash basis. The realisation that a complete shift to online transactions would profoundly impact our businesses, community groups, local events, and even young entrepreneurs selling pine cones and sheep nuggets was evident.
While our presence at the hearing will not change Bendigo Bank's decision to close our agency, we are hopeful that the Committee's recommendations will pave the way for some form of banking service to be introduced in our community. We remain optimistic about a positive outcome stemming from the Committee's insights and recommendations.