Summerland Bank have seen how disaster can bring communities closer more than ever this year. Like many of their neighbouring businesses, they lost their Lismore branch and head office to flooding in the New South Wales Northern Rivers region a year ago.
“Last year was a year unlike any other. The size of the 2022 floods was unprecedented, and the impact on the community and Summerland was devastating. For many, these challenges continue with hundreds of people still living in temporary accommodation,” Summerland CEO John Williams said.
However, during this time Summerland’s commitment to customers, staff and the community was unwavering. They established a Community Banking Hub within days of the February flood, with the generous support of Southern Cross University. Five other mutuals were invited to join the hub to provide support and banking services to Lismore and surrounding communities.
Summerland provided support for flood impacted customers through payment relief and free redraw on home loans, free replacement cards and cheque books, waiving of fees for restructuring business loans, and allowing early access to term deposits. They proactively reached out to all flood-impacted loan and business customers to ensure they knew they were there for them when they needed them.
Summerland also worked to administer flood donations, partnering with the Australian Mutuals Foundation (AMF) to distribute $210,000, including an individual contribution from Summerland of $50,000. The funds raised were provided to 37 local charities and community groups to help them recover from the impact of the floods.
“I am immensely proud of our team who have shown resilience, commitment, and compassion. They enthusiastically volunteered to assist the community with the flood clean up, and genuinely cared for people within the broader community,” John Williams said.
Using a values-based approach, they ensured their key value of ‘people matter most’ was at the cornerstone of their activities to drive sustainability outcomes for the environment, communities and the business.
“In response to the challenging year, there are key learnings that will drive our strategic focus over the coming years with a clear sense of strategic identity, and this sense of clarity has been empowering,” John Williams said.