As an extension of its aims to improve access to fair and affordable financial services in Australia, NAB today announced it would provide up to $1 million in interest-free loan capital and additional funding to assist Traditional Credit Union Limited (TCU) expand its banking services for Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.
Mr Ahmed Fahour, NAB Executive Director and CEO Australia, said that NAB and TCU would work together to open new TCU branches in the Northern Territory and explore ways help to address the financial exclusion of Indigenous Australia.
"Indigenous Australians are the most financially excluded group in this country and there is a growing demand for basic financial services. This arrangement with the TCU is a critical step in demonstrating our long term commitment to the aspirations of Indigenous Australia, " Mr Fahour said.
Under the arrangement, NAB will provide TCU with interest free loans of up to $1 million (with no fees or charges) to fund the opening of branches in remote locations in the Northern Territory, providing access to financial services for more than 3, 250 Indigenous customers, in the next five years.
In addition, NAB has created a grant, to the value of $200, 000, for the TCU to fund activities as the new branches are opened over the next five years such as advertising, legal costs, development of brochures and website upgrades.
Mrs Cathy Hunt, General Manager of TCU said that Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory had been asking for some time for the TCU to expand its branch footprint, but it had lacked a sufficient capital base to do so.
"The costs to open new branches and the high costs of delivering financial services to remote areas has meant we haven't been able to expand as quickly as we would have liked. The arrangement with NAB removes some of those obstacles, " Mrs Hunt said.
The first new TCU branch is scheduled to open in Angurugu on Groote Eylandt in June, with a further four branches in remote and regional areas of the Northern Territory planned in the next five years.
NAB will provide TCU customers with access to NAB's microfinance programs including the NAB Microenterprise Loan program.
NAB and TCU are also developing efficiency programs to help lower the costs of some of the TCU's back room processes and operations, and are investigating volunteering opportunities and secondments for NAB employees to work with TCU and vice versa.
"This is a great opportunity for NAB to learn from TCU in terms of delivering financial services to Indigenous Australians in remote locations.
"We also hope by taking this first step we can help more Indigenous communities have access to fair banking services, " Mr Fahour said.
"We see this partnership as a way of extending our branch network to enable our members to build better lives for themselves and improve their financial knowledge through access to face to face services in the communities that they live, " said Mrs Hunt
Background About Traditional Credit Union (TCU) Established in 1994 to provide culturally appropriate financial services to Indigenous people living in remote communities in the Northern Territory, TCU has a unique expertise and cultural understanding of issues relating to the successful delivery of financial services to Indigenous peoples in Northern Australia.
TCU is an Authorised Deposit-taking Institution (ADI), subject to the same prudential regulatory regime under the Commonwealth Banking Act 1959 as all other ADIs (banks, building societies and credit unions). As a mutual society, TCU is owned by its customers and provides banking services to Indigenous people by Indigenous people where they live in communities across the Top End of the Northern Territory.
TCU has some 14, 000 Indigenous customers and twelve remote community branches in the Northern Territory. A head office in Casuarina (Darwin) and branches in: Milingimbi, Minyerri, Galiwinku, Gapuwiyak, Ramingining, Maningrida, Wadeye, Gunbalanya, Warruwi, Ngukurr and Numbulwar.
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