UPDATE: Australia’s Customer Owned Banking Sector Responds to the Bushfire Emergency

WOCCU member organization urges customers to reach out for assistance

Source: Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA)

January 06, 2020

SYDNEY—Australia’s mutual banks, credit unions and building societies are expressing their deepest sympathies to those impacted by the devastating bushfire emergency across the country and stand ready to assist customers who are impacted. 

Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA) CEO Michael Lawrence says Australia’s customer owned banking institutions will work with customers to help support them as they rebuild their lives and properties.

COBA is World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) direct member in Australia, representing 72 financial institutions that serve more than four million customers.

“Australia's customer owned banking sector has a long history of supporting its customers and communities in times of need. Customer owned banking institutions offer a range of measures to assist customers that are impacted by the bushfires, many of which continue to burn. The bushfires are devastating for individuals and communities. Our thoughts are with those whose properties and lives have been impacted, as well as for the firefighters that are working to protect lives and property," said Lawrence, who also serves on World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) Board of Directors.

As of January 7, the bushfires have impacted several COBA member institutions, including:


  • One person who died at Conjola was a Horizon member and many other members have lost their homes.
  • Branch staff have been sleeping in their cars and on the beach.
  • All branches are open normal hours with the exception of Bermagui, which is closed due to the bushfire.

Beyond Bank

  • Branch at Batemans Bay will remain closed until further notice.
  • Hardship assistance is available for affected customers.
  • Running a Foundation Bushfire appeal with 100% of funds going to the St. Vincent DePaul Society's relief efforts.


  • Corryong Service Centre currently closed in response to the current emergency levels in place. 
  • Walwa Service Centre will remain closed until further notice.
  • Providing assistance to customers and staff, offering a range of financial support measures.


  • All South Coast branches, with the exception of Batemans Bay, are open.
  • Activated a disaster relief package for impacted customers.

Lawrence is advising impacted customers to contact their mutual bank, credit union or building society. Contact details can be found here.

COBA's largest members are all offering bushfire assistance packages for impacted customers. Many others have made donations, including:

  • Credit Union Australia (CUA) - $150,000 to fire services and $25,000 to the Red Cross.
  • P&N - $10,000 worth of food via BCU.
  • TMB - $80,000 and Firefighters Mutual Bank is donating $10,000 to the fund that has been set up to support the families of the 3 firefighters who lost their lives.
  • Beyond Bank - $50,000.
  • Newcastle Permanent - $25,000.
  • CUA and TMB have also offered staff leave if they are called up to serve.

Credit unions and individuals who want to help in the relief effort can visit the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions website at for a link to the Australian Bushfire Appeal set up by the Australian Mutuals Foundation.

Customer Owned Banking Association is the industry body for mutual banks, credit unions and building societies in Australia. 

World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development platform 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 300+ technical assistance programs in 89 countries. Worldwide, 85,400 credit unions in 118 countries serve 274 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at

Author Photo
Contact: Greg Neumann
Organization: World Council of Credit Unions
Phone: +1 608-395-2048
Contact: Sally McKenzie
Organization: Customer Owned Banking Association
Phone: (02) 8035 8400

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