It is an understatement to say that we were all shocked at the announcement early in March that the ANZ Bank was closing our branch in Wycheproof. The news came when we as a community were on a high. We had just congratulated the team behind Wycheproof Hardware on receiving a national business award and looking forward to the long-awaited opening of the bakery. Congratulations to the team there at Bakery on Broadway opening at Easter and welcome to baker Sean and to pastry chef Jao and barista Por.
At the time of going to print not all account holders at ANZ Bank Wycheproof Branch had received formal notification of the branch closure. On 22 March more than 100 people met to try to get answers from ANZ representatives. While they couldn’t answer all our questions to complete satisfaction, they did give an undertaking to reply to questions and provide information as requested. One of the outcomes of the meeting was an undertaking by Wycheproof VISION to write a submission to ANZ Bank to put a case for the retention of our bank branch. While I believe we can put a compelling case, the Weekly Times has reported on the closure of 230 banking services in rural Australia.
It is now 14 years since the last major investigation into banking services in rural areas. It is time that all levels of government looked at rural banking and consider banking services an essential service, and as important infrastructure in rural communities in the same light as telecommunications, roads, transport and utilities.
In this issue of Wyche On Track we have a short survey so that we can collect data to support our submission to the bank. We are also asking residents to write to the bank outlining why they think the bank should stay and the effect of closing the branch on them personally. Letters can be left at the Wycheproof VISION box at the Wycheproof Community Resource Centre and will be delivered with the community submission. Those account holders who received a letter are also encouraged to use the bank contact details and try to get answers to any questions they may have.
In 2002 Wycheproof and its then new Rural Transaction Centre was held up as a shining example of a new and innovative way rural communities could work with banks to ensure banking services remain in rural towns. We know that our community remains committed to having a bank branch in Wycheproof. Help us to make that message loud and clear to the ANZ Board in Collins St.