Newsletter Web Cover Image 840x420_FA.jpg

January 2024

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

10422_QC_From_the_CEOs_Desk_Website_Banner_1200x200_FA.jpg

As we approached the end of 2023, it provided an opportunity to reflect on the role that Queensland Country Bank has played in supporting the local communities we operate in. A really important role that Queensland Country plays is providing finance to support economic development in these communities.

Toggle Item

Read more from our CEO, Aaron Newman

In terms of our role in the community, one of the most important things that we do is finance economic activity. For local communities to grow these communities need the construction of infrastructure whether private or public. As a result of having branches and staff based in many Queensland communities, we have a deep understanding of the local economies and a genuine appetite to provide finance for business expansion and new home construction that is necessary to support economic development.

In the six months to 31 December 2023, we provided more than $420 million in new loans to help people buy homes and cars and make business investments. This compares with the total loans issued in the 22/23 financial year, which totalled $657 million.

Another important benefit we provide to communities is the provision of community grants. We have concluded this annual process recently and have announced approval for grants to 12 not-for-profit associations for a total of $144,000. These funds will assist the recipients to develop social infrastructure that include improvements to a BMX track, recycling machines and improvements to a kitchen for Meals on Wheels, to name a few. Our goal with the grants is to help make regional communities more liveable.

A major focus for the Bank in the next six months is making investments in digital systems to improve the banking experience for our Members. We will be making further enhancements to our mobile app and website to provide more convenience for people who want to transact or receive information online.  

Another area we will be communicating to Members on is frauds and scams. Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in the past six months of Members losing money as a result of being encouraged to make fraudulent transactions. These are payments and transfers our Members are willingly making that result in being a scam. These scams include overseas investments, online romance scams, online Marketplace purchases, etc.

We will be increasing our efforts to highlight what are considered risky transactions so Members can be better prepared to determine what might be a fraud or scam and avoid these. If you do believe you have made a payment that is fraudulent, please call us with urgency to see if we can assist you to recover the funds.

In addition to increasing the awareness of scams with Members, Queensland Country will be improving our systems to increase our protection of Member funds. The Government through their agency Scamwatch, the Australian Banking Association (ABA), Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA), and the National Anti-Scams Centre, have announced the new Scam-Safe Accord.

The Accord establishes six initiatives which are aimed at making banking safer for Australian consumers and creating friction and roadblocks for the perpetrators of fraud. Queensland Country, as a Member of COBA, is bound by the Accord and we have commenced planning work to ensure compliance with the initiatives within timeframes established. Scams and frauds are a financial burden on the whole community, and we will be making our contribution to the industry initiatives to reduce the opportunity for perpetrators of fraud.

As a Queensland based business, we make efforts to stay in touch with what is taking place in local communities. The Board and executives have recently spent some time in Ipswich, that included a Board meeting and a business lunch with local business people. This enabled us to better understand the challenges and opportunities in Ipswich and also what the banking needs of that community are.

In 2024, the Board and executives will be holding Board meetings and Member meetings in Mount Isa, Cairns, Townsville and Brisbane that should build on our understanding of these communities.

I wish everyone a safe and relaxing holiday period and would like to acknowledge your ongoing support of our Bank.

Good for Good recipients 2023

Toggle Item

Congratulations to our 2023 Good for Good Community Grant recipients!

We are pleased to announce the Good for Good Community Grant recipients for 2023 have been selected.

This year, we had a record number of applicants, making it a tough decision for the selection committee. There were plenty of fantastic projects pitched to us from a variety of locations across Queensland, each unique in its own way. We thank everyone for taking the time to submit their applications and to anyone who missed out this year, we encourage you to resubmit for our 2024 grants.

Throughout the selection process, the committee sought out applications from the communities that support us and carefully considered how each applicant’s proposed project would support their community to continue to grow and thrive.

After much discussion, the committee reached the decision to award funding to the below 12 recipients. These recipients are based in many of our key locations throughout Queensland and sit across each of our five pillars of sport and recreation, health, education, environment, and arts and culture.

Here are our 2023 Good for Good recipients and a summary of their projects:

  • Cairns BMX Club Inc: Extension of their current BMX to improve its safety for riders
  • Queensland Youth Services Inc: Construction of a shed in Mount Isa to create a space for young people to engage in cultural knowledge.
  • Burdekin Singers & Theatre Co: Installation of a big fan to create a more comfortable environment for local schools and community groups.
  • Saint Andrews Meals on Wheels Lower Burdekin Committee: Installation of stainless steel work benches to expand the kitchen and help more people.
  • QCWA Bowen Branch: Installation of external blinds to provide more shade and a more comfortable environment for community groups.
  • Road Accident Action Group: Creation of road safety messaging to encourage safe driving in the region and focus on the causes of accidents.
  • Prosperine Youth Club Inc: Replacement of furniture that was lost during Cyclone Debbie to restore the space for youth groups.
  • Capricornia Catchments Inc: Purchase of machinery to recycle and repurpose plastic waste.
  • Althea Projects Inc: Installation of security cameras and purchase of trauma-focused resources to assist with residential foster care.
  • Equipping for Life Limited: Purchase of a storage trailer to more easily transport equipment for student outdoor activities.
  • Days for Girls Australia Ipswich: Creation of handmade, reusable menstrual kits for young girls.

Best Workplace for Women

Toggle Item

Queensland Country celebrates being on the Best Workplaces for Women List 2023

Queensland Country Bank is excited to be listed as one of Australia’s Best Workplaces for Women in 2023 by Great Place to Work Australia.

After being awarded a Great Place to Work certification earlier in 2023, this achievement has instilled even more pride in Queensland Country Bank and the culture created for employees and extended to Members.  

Queensland Country Bank Executive Manager People and Culture, Katherine Brennan, is stoked about this amazing achievement. “Firstly, can I just say, wow! What an honour to be recognised in the Best Workplaces for Women List,” she said.

“Having worked with Queensland Country Bank for more than 16 years, I know that we have always ensured that our people are treated fairly, and that equality is at the heart of all the decisions we make. Being on this list means that the hard work and dedication to being a people-first employer has really paid off.

“From additional leave and flexibility that supports families, to a diverse leadership team that understands our Member and employee needs, it won’t stop here - we will continue to shape an environment that enables and empowers individuals in our communities, of course including the inspiring women who make such a difference every day.

“Thank you for including us on this list and we hope it inspires other organisations to close the gap and make positive change for the benefit of everyone,” said Mrs Brennan.

Our core mission at Queensland Country Bank is to help Queenslanders live better lives through better financial wellbeing, serving over 85,000 Members. Being genuine, putting people first, embracing change, and bringing our best to create lasting and memorable service experiences is at the forefront of everything we do.

Card Controls

Toggle Item

Putting you in the driver’s seat

We’ve recently rolled out some improvements to our internet banking and mobile banking app, giving you more control over your Visa Debit and Credit cards.

With new Card Controls, you can manage the type of transactions that can be performed with your card in internet banking or the app. For example, you may want to turn off online transactions or turn off international transactions, or even turn off Tap and Go transactions. You can adjust these settings at any time.

Misplaced your card? You can now place your card in a temporary blocked state while you look for it.

Members can now also view full card details including card expiry and CVV in internet banking and the Mobile App. This is a great feature when shopping online and you don’t have your physical card with you.

If you need to report your card as lost or stolen, you can report it online and request a replacement card immediately and add your new card details straight into your digital wallet. Physical cards ordered through internet banking or the mobile app are now issued active. There is no longer any need for Members to log in and activate their physical cards.

We have also made some changes to the age limit restrictions on our Visa Debit Cards for Members aged between 15–17-years-old. This will allow these Members to have better access to their funds at selected merchants. Refer to our Account and Access Facility Conditions of Use.

To find out more, visit our website.

Townsville Future Leaders Program

Toggle Item

Queensland Country Bank helps support the leaders of the future

Queensland Country Bank has partnered with Townsville Enterprise in relaunching their North Queensland Future Leaders Program in 2024.

The Future Leaders Program, designed by Townsville Enterprise, aims to educate the next generation of regional leaders on the issues, opportunities, and challenges impacting Townsville North Queensland.

The program is a succession plan for the region, ensuring the skills, knowledge and talent within Townsville, North Queensland, are retained and developed.

Program partner, Queensland Country Bank CEO, Aaron Newman said, “We take pride in our support for the future leaders of North Queensland via our sponsorship of Townsville Enterprise's enhanced leadership program.”

Townsville Enterprise CEO, Claudia Brumme-Smith, said the reinstatement of a refreshed leadership program for North Queensland fills a gap in ensuring the rising stars of the region remain and continue to build the future of their own backyard.

“Townsville Enterprise proudly delivered this program over a number of years, and while there was a pause during the pandemic period, we’re so pleased to bring this opportunity back to North Queenslanders in a refreshed format,” Ms Brumme-Smith said.

“The program is all about sharing knowledge and upskilling our future leaders with the regional insights and supported mentor relationships they will bring together with their entrepreneurial spirit for the betterment of Townsville and North Queensland’s future,” she said.

Submissions for the Future Leaders Program have now closed. In early December 2023, all candidates went through an interview process to determine who progressed through to the Program.

A networking event will take place on 16 January 2024 at the Queensland Country Centre to announce the Future Leaders and Mentors. Please visit Townsville Enterprise’s Upcoming Events webpage for more information and to purchase tickets to the event.

Launching into the New Year

Toggle Item

Launching into the New Year: Set your financial goals

As we launch into 2024, it’s a good idea to start thinking about what the year ahead looks like for your finances. Here are a few tips to help you set your financial goals for the year:

  • Make your goal specific
  • Make your goal measurable
  • Set a deadline
  • Write your goals down
  • Revisit your goals at regular intervals

What could your financial goals look like? Here are a few examples:

  • Stick to a budget
  • Start an emergency fund
  • Save $500 each month

General Advice Warning: This information is intended to be general in nature and is not personal financial advice. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information in this article, you should consider the appropriateness of the information provided. In particular, you should seek independent financial advice.

Reference: Rachel Cruze, 2023, How to set financial goals: 6 steps, Ramsey Solutions.

Canstar Award

Toggle Item

Queensland Country green loans take the cake

Queensland Country Bank is celebrating big, having won three awards for its Green Car Loan and Green Reno Loan – Canstar’s 2023 Outstanding Value Award for Green Car Loan (second year running) and 2023 Outstanding Value Award for Green Personal Loan, as well as Mozo’s 2024 Experts Choice Award for Green Personal Loan.

Queensland Country Executive Manager, Retail Banking, Andrew McArdle said, “We’re extremely proud to be independently recognised for our green car loan for the second year in a row and for the first time for our Green Reno Loan product since launching these from December 2021.

“These products align with our company values and shift to being more sustainable by providing our Members with the option to go green. As a member-owned organisation we put our profits into providing better value for our Members and are aware of what social issues matter to them, so it was a conscious choice to enable Members to have a green alternative.”

Over the past twelve months, Queensland Country Bank has helped over 134 Members realise their green dreams with more sustainable purchases and home improvements. Through providing flexible financial solutions, competitive interest rates and a range of beneficial features, more Members have been interested in the green products on offer.

“At Queensland Country, we believe offering our ‘green’ product suite will enable the Bank to be a leader in this important social change helping to reduce barriers for consumers and our Members to make purchases that have a lower impact on the environment,” said Mr McArdle.

Canstar’s Group Manager, Research and Insights, Josh Sale said, “this is the second year in a row that Queensland Country Bank has received an Outstanding Value Green Car Loan Award for their Green Car Loan, which helps its customers to fund low emissions vehicles.

“Queensland Country Bank’s Green Car Loan stood out for allowing borrowers to access a competitive variable rate with no early repayment fees and flexible repayment options.

“This year also marks the first time Queensland Country Bank’s Green Reno Loan has received an Outstanding Value Award for Green Personal Loans. This loan impressed by enabling borrowers to have access to up to $50,000 at an extra competitive rate with no establishment or loan maintenance fees.”

Each product reviewed for the Canstar Green Personal and Car Loan awards is awarded points for its comparative pricing and for the array of features attached to the product. These features include product functionality, flexibility, additional fees and charges and the application process.

Home insurance

Toggle Item

Factors to consider when choosing the right home insurance for your situation

Figuring out what level of help is best to protect your home can be tricky – you don’t want to be underinsured but you may not know how much cover is best for your property. To help you find the balance, consider these factors*.

  • Determine an adequate figure for the cost of rebuilding your home if it was damaged or destroyed (tip – there are online calculators that can help provide an approximate calculation).
  • Decide if you are insuring your contents as well and if so, work out how much to insure them for – taking an inventory of your personal belongings can help.
  • Check what is and isn’t included in the policy you’re considering – pay close attention and read the fine print as each insurer is different.
  • Decide if you will add any additional extras that aren’t already covered in the policy – again, this differs depending on the insurer.
  • Consider how much excess you would be willing to pay – remember, generally, a higher excess may mean a lower premium, but you need to be prepared to pay this excess in the event a claim is accepted.

For more information and tips, read our full blog.

*Other factors may be relevant in your circumstances. We recommend doing your own research in selecting a product that is right for you.

General Advice Warning: This information is intended to be general in nature and is not personal financial advice. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information in this article, you should consider the appropriateness of the information provided. In particular, you should seek independent financial advice.

Home insurance

Toggle Item

Terms and Conditions

Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions apply and are available at queenslandcountry.bank/protect. QLD residents 18+ only. Queensland Country Bank Limited ABN 77 087 651 027 AFSL 244 533 acts under its own Australian Financial Services Licence and under an agreement with the insurer, Insurance Australia Limited ABN 11 000 016 722 AFSL 227 681 trading as CGU Insurance. Any advice provided is general advice only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or your personal circumstances. Before using this advice to decide whether to purchase a product, you should consider your personal circumstances and the relevant PDS and TMDs from queenslandcountry.bank.

Overseas travel changes

Queensland Country Health Fund

At a glance figures