The role of credit unions in shaping brighter financial futures is being recognised and celebrated as part of International Credit Union Day this year.
As the peak body for the credit union and mutual sector, the Customer Owned Banking Association is paying tribute to the tireless work the industry does to foster a both a sense of community and financial wellbeing in its members.
The official theme for this year’s October 20 event, Empower Your Financial Future with a Credit Union, encourages members and prospective members to take advantage of the benefits of the sector’s institutions.
Credit unions are known for their competitive rates, personalised service and their contribution to the local communities they serve. In fact, Roy Morgan research from June this year found satisfaction scores for building societies and credit unions continued to exceed that of banks, with ratings above 90 per cent (compared to 77 per cent for banks).
A celebration of members
International Credit Union Day is celebrated each year on the third Thursday of October to recognise the close bond between credit unions and their members.
It began in the United States of America in 1948 and is now recognised in more than 118 countries. It is supported by the World Council of Credit Unions, with festivities including picnics, fundraisers and parades.
Support through financial hurdles
This year, both Australians and their international counterparts have faced difficult economic conditions with rising interest rates, inflation and slower wage growth. For some people, this has resulted in significant financial stress.
Amid these challenges, we have seen many credit unions step up to give their members personalised support, whether it be through better rates or conditions or a listening ear. With a commitment to putting people before profits, they are able to provide more tailored guidance when the economic conditions become a bit rougher.
As part of this year’s International Credit Union Day, we are encouraging both customers and credit unions to continue to share their stories about how they’ve found financial empowerment.
Some words from history:
“I would say the basic theme was a better social order. The average man getting more from life than he was getting prior to co-operative developments. More for your money you might say, better quality of goods and services.”
– Kevin Yates, the ‘father of the Australian credit union movement’
“The main thing when we first set up the credit union was people being in the hands of money lenders and cash order people. They would spend up the limit then they would get another one, never ending. The interest on it was very high. So, we used to encourage the people to bring all of their commitments in, like the things that they were paying off and that, and to take a loan to cover the lot and then in future to borrow only from their credit union. We straightened a lot of them out. People were often unaware of the high rate of interest that they were paying and the fact that they would never get out of it because it was big business.”
– Rose Mary Gallagher, Australian credit union pioneer
“The concept was to establish a pool of savings to provide a fund for loans to members avoiding usury. It was an age when money-lenders were on every corner, and the finance company car used to follow the pay car around work sites, peeling repayments off the workers as fast as they were paid.”
– Ken Miller, Australian credit union pioneer