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January 12, 2011


Australia’s Mutuals, Members Suffer from Floods

CUFA to Coordinate WOCCU Support

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2011_1_12_Wallaby stranded by floodwaters

A lone wallaby is stranded on a hay bale outside the town of Danby, Queensland, a victim of the worst flooding in Australia's history. (AP Photo/Anthony Skerman)

BRISBANE, Australia — Continued flash flooding, including what has been described as an "an inland tsunami" bearing down on Brisbane, has saturated Queensland, Australia. After three weeks of rain, communities are underwater, homes have been destroyed and the personal toll stands at 78 missing and 30 presumed dead.

Massive service disruptions have hit Queensland's mutuals, including credit unions and building societies, which are dealing with operational challenges as well as attempting to help members cope with what authorities have described as the worst floods in Australia's history. Heritage Building Society, based in Toowoomba, has closed multiple branches and enacted hardship provisions for its members, including postponing loan payments and adjusting credit contract terms, according to Bill Armagnacq, the assistant CEO.

In addition to Toowoomba, credit unions and building societies in the cities of Warwick, Maleny and Gympie also have struggled with flooding, protecting branches with sandbags and in some cases closing them in the face of the rising waters. Fortunately, no credit union staff have been injured or killed during the disaster; however, conditions are expected to worsen now that Brisbane is in the path of the massive wave.

World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) member Abacus Australian Mutuals, which serves the country's 104 credit unions and nine building societies, has taken steps to help its member institutions. The Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, part of WOCCU, has also stepped in and will work with Credit Union Foundation Australia (CUFA) to channel funds to mutuals under siege. WOCCU will make a donation from its own disaster relief funds and invites interested individuals and credit unions to contribute to Australian credit union rebuilding and relief.

"Credit unions comprise a global movement and, as such, stand together in the face of disaster," said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and COO. "We know that the strong leadership of Abacus and the support of CUFA will make a significant difference in the recovery of Australia's credit unions and building societies."

WOCCU will be sending its donation directly to CUFA. Those interested in making a contribution to Australia's relief effort can send their donation via check, credit card or wire to:

 

Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, 5710 Mineral Point Rd., Madison, WI 53705, USA

Donations may be made online with a credit card at www.woccu.org/give. For wire transfer information, contact: Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, +1-608-395-2055, or vbreunig@woccu.org. Please indicate that your donation is for Australia Disaster Relief.

 




World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.

World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 103 countries serve 208 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.

 


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Contact: Rebecca Carpenter
Organization: World Council of Credit Unions
E-mail: rcarpenter@woccu.org
Phone: +1-608-395-2031
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