Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Goodbye Stawell: Bendigo Bank agency closure marks the end for community banking

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Northern Grampians Shire Council, Media Release, 13 April 2023

Residents of Stawell and surrounding towns have been deserted for the greener pastures of the digital realm, with Bendigo and Adelaide Bank suggesting that an investment shift toward phone and internet banking services is behind a decision to permanently close the Bendigo Bank Agency located at Fosters Mensland in Stawell.

The news of the agency closure has come as a considerable blow to the bank’s local community-minded customer base who were informed of the news by letter.

Northern Grampians Shire Council has reached out to the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank to emphasise their concerns on behalf of residents, driving home the social and economic impact that the cessation of local service will have on the community.

With an aging demographic, many residents in Northern Grampians Shire rely on consistent face-to-face interaction and prefer to bank with representatives they know and trust.

The Mayor of Northern Grampians Shire Council, Cr. Kevin Erwin, has been inundated by calls from concerned residents regarding the closure, many berating the lack of consultation offered by Bendigo Bank prior to taking such a drastic step.

“Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has itself acknowledged how well it has been supported by the people of our shire. Not so long ago they were marketing themselves as a bank that likes to help communities grow and many people around here chose to bank with them because this community focus appealed to them. The cessation of the Stawell Agency service is seen by people here, myself included, as smack in the face. The opportunity to offer people trust and security in a time where scamming, impersonation and digital identity theft is rife should not be abandoned. We’re all very disappointed,” Cr Erwin commented.

In a letter sent out to customers of the Stawell Agency dated 28 March 2023, Kelly Torpey, Regional Manager of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, confirms that a general shift in customer behaviour to phone and online banking services had led to an overall redirection of investment.

“The concerns raised by our community are valid and should be considered by decision-makers at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. The loss of a consistent and personalised face-to-face banking service will have a deep and lasting impact here and the ramifications of this decision extend well beyond the bank’s customer base. Footfall on our main street will most certainly be affected, taking money out of our shire and away from our local businesses. I have reached out to the bank for answers. added Cr Erwin.

At the time of writing, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank remain firm in their decision to cease operation of the Stawell Agency, confirming that customers will be offered digital coaching if required.

The bank is currently recommending that customers who wish to continue to bank using a face-to-face teller model of service travel to Bendigo Bank Ararat branch or use the fee-for-use Bank@Post service available through Australia Post at Stawell LPO, where a fee waiver has been negotiated for pensioner concession card holders.

The Stawell Bendigo Bank Agency is set to close on Wednesday 28 June at 2pm.

Related stories: Community rally as agency to close, The better big bank abandons communities,

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