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October 2022

Welcome to our quarterly newsletter, which is published in the first week of January, April, July and October. Enjoy the read!

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The first quarter of this new financial year has started very positively for Queensland Country. There has been continued strong demand for lending, particularly home loans, which has seen the Bank issue a record $160 million in loans. This means we have been able to help even more Members to purchase a home or investment property.

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Read more from our CEO, Aaron Newman

All 28 of our branches across Queensland have lending staff, which I am sure has made it easier for Members to access assistance and advice regarding borrowing for a home. We have also recently opened a lending centre in Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast to expand our presence in this area, following the addition of our branch at Maleny a couple of years ago now. The Sunshine Coast is a high growth region that has been identified as an area of expansion for Queensland Country. We have already seen strong demand for our products and services in these locations, which demonstrates that member-owned banking resonates with people in these communities.

The executive team and I regularly reflect on how we deliver value to Members, and importantly how this is different from the service and experience offered by our competitors. An area of service we are proud of is our responsiveness in our contact centre. Delivering excellent service through this channel is a high priority for the organisation and an area we believe provides a different experience to that of other banks. Our contact centre team strives to answer 80% of all calls within one minute and I am very pleased to say that the team has achieved and exceeded this goal over the past three months.

We have seen a significant increase in the number of applications received through our Good for Good Community Grants program this year. These are currently being assessed and we look forward to announcing the successful not-for-profit groups soon. The funding of these projects will improve people’s lives and is just another way that Queensland Country gives back to our communities.

The increasing interest rate environment does present more uncertainty about the future. While I am sure it will be welcomed by those Members with savings, it could create concerns for borrowers who may struggle to meet higher loan repayments. If you are experiencing any issues meeting your repayments, I would encourage you to have an early conversation with our branch staff or contact centre so that we can provide assistance.

Scam awareness

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Watch out for scams

Members are warned to be particularly vigilant about scams following the recent Optus data breach, which resulted in the release of customers’ personal information, including name, date of birth, phone number, email address and possibly also identity document numbers such as driver’s licence, passport or Medicare numbers.

Following are some suggestions for protecting your personal information:

  • Change passwords and enable two-factor identification for internet banking and other online accounts like email and social media.
  • Consider activating biometric identification (such as fingerprint or facial recognition) on your smart phone.
  • Monitor your accounts for unusual activity and contact us immediately if you detect any unauthorised transactions.
  • Be alert to any emails, text messages or phone calls from people requesting personal or account information, payments of any kind, or remote access to devices. DO NOT click on any links, open attachments, download applications or respond to any requests until you have made your own enquiries with the organisation they claim to be from.
  • If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from a financial institution (including Queensland Country Bank) you should advise that you will hang up and either visit a branch in person or return the call after verifying their phone number from an independent source.

Learn more about how to protect yourself from scams at scamwatch.gov.au and if you believe you may have been the victim of a scam, please contact us immediately for assistance.

Cancer Council Queensland receive $5,477 donation

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Workplace giving program raises $21,000

The team at Queensland Country have raised over $21,000 in funds for four Queensland charities, as part of our annual workplace giving program.

The total sum was split evenly between Angel Paws TownsvilleThe Royal Flying DoctorsCancer Council Australia and Black Dog Institute.

Now in its third year, the workplace giving program saw over 85% of staff donate one dollar per fortnight, which was then matched by the organisation.

CEO Aaron Newman said the affordable, individual contribution of staff collectively resulted in a significant donation.

“The contribution of one dollar a fortnight may seem minimal, but it doesn’t take long to add up, and we take great pride in being able to make meaningful donations at a time when many charities are doing it tough,” he said.

“As a member-owned organisation, giving back to our local communities is very important to us and we look forward to seeing how these funds will support the great work of these four amazing charities.”

Team members from Queensland Country Bank

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Personal banking more important than ever

Recent media reports have highlighted the ongoing trend of branch closures from the ‘Big Four’, with another 37 branches to close in the next three months and a loss of 182 jobs. The latest round of closures amounts to a staggering 550 branches closed since January 2020, many of which have resulted in a significant decline in banking services to regional communities.

As a member-owned organisation that puts people ahead of profits, this is not the approach Queensland Country Bank is taking. Our branches play an important role in delivering a genuine Member experience, and we understand each Member has their preferred way of doing business with us and there are times when they need to be able to meet face to face to have a meaningful conversation about their financial goals.

So, while banks with shareholders are cutting back services, we’re reinvesting our profits into increasing Member products and services including:

  • Newly appointed specialist lender in Maroochydore to support Members on the Sunshine Coast.
  • Expansion of our Business Banking team to provide personalised service in Far North Queensland and Central Queensland.
  • Investment into the refurbishment of our branches to increase the number of meeting spaces to offer Members privacy to discuss their financial goals.
  • Budgeting support through our Money Mentors service and SmartBudget app.

As the cost of living continues to rise, it is more important than ever for regional Queenslanders to have access to banking services to support them with their budgeting and lending needs. You can be assured we’re committed to putting our Members before profits in every decision we make.

Our commitment: Make the UN Global Compact and its Ten Principles an integral part of our business strategy, day-to-day operations and organizational structure

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Taking action to support UN goals

Queensland Country has been formally accepted as a participant of the United Nations (UN) Global Compact initiative, a voluntary leadership platform for the development, implementation and disclosure of responsible business practices.

The UN Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to take action in support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

CEO Aaron Newman said the bank was extremely proud to join the growing number of companies globally who have committed to taking responsible business action to create a more sustainable future for the next generation.

“We’ve been caring about our people and communities since our inception 50 years ago, but this is the start of our journey in formalising our processes to become more accountable and transparent in our environmental and social commitments,” he said.

“Small steps by many of us can achieve lasting change, and our staff are leading the way to implement sustainability initiatives state-wide throughout our contact centres and branches.

“We’ve begun transitioning our fleet vehicles to electric and hybrid electric, installed solar in our owned locations, increased our electronic record keeping processes to reduce paper usage and will continue to seek ways to reduce our environmental impact.

“As a member-owned organisation, it’s in our DNA to help others live better, so it just makes sense that we would align our operations and strategies with the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact and take a shared responsibility to achieve a better world for all.”

Scholarship recipients with Queensland Country Bank

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Scholarships help students make a difference

Two students have been awarded a CQUniCares Queensland Country Bank Scholarship to complete their higher education.

Mother-of-three Kate Watson is studying a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy full-time at CQUniversity’s Rockhampton campus and was awarded $10,000 to assist with her studies.

Ms Watson said as the parent of a child with significant medical needs, she has witnessed first-hand the difference occupational therapy can make on a person’s life.

“Occupational therapists help people achieve their goals through engagement in occupations of self-care, work, leisure, school, and play,” she said.

“Winning this scholarship means so much as it will relieve some of the financial costs associated with attending university and free my time to focus on study and caring for my family.”

Queensland Country Bank also awarded a one-off scholarship of $2,500 for student Thalep Ahmat to upgrade his old, slow laptop.

Mr Ahmat, who is of Torres Strait Island heritage, currently works as a counsellor and regularly travels to Woorabinda for work. He is studying a Bachelor of Psychological Science part-time with the goal of filling the gap in the availability of culturally and clinically appropriate services in Central Queensland.

“I’m hoping to gain more skills to be able to help improve Indigenous mental health in the region,” he said.

“I’m already familiar with the community, I understand the hardships they’ve faced and continue to face. I’m visible and accepted by the community and I really want to help.”

Rockhampton Branch Manager Jodie Hare said Queensland Country was proud to support the CQUniCares scholarship program for the sixth year in the row.

“As a member-owned organisation we are always looking at ways to support people and organisations that aim to bring meaningful and positive change to their community,” she said.

“Kate and Thalep are two great examples of people striving to make a positive difference and we couldn’t be more proud to support their academic endeavours.”

Our new BSB is 654 000

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It’s time to switch

Your new BSB for Queensland Country Bank is 654 000, and it is now time to start using it.

There are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Your new BSB must be used with your existing account number - not your member number or any other reference number.
  • You will need to notify anyone making payments to you. For example: your payroll officer, health insurer, friends and family.
  • You will need to notify any organisation that you have regular direct debits set up with. For example: school fees, gym memberships, pay TV.

Think about money coming into your account and money going out of your account - this is the simplest way to identify who needs to know your new BSB.

We understand most Members will have a number of changes to make. To allow you sufficient time to update your information and to support you with this change, we will not turn off the previous BSB straight away. However, in the future the previous BSB will no longer work, so it is important that you start taking steps to make this change as soon as possible. We will contact all Members prior to turning off the previous BSB.

Our friendly team are here to assist you with the transition and answer any questions you may have. You can also learn more at queenslandcountry.bank/improvements.

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