Six customer-owned banks have established a $90,000 scholarship program which for the next six years will support incoming Southern Cross University students impacted in the 2022 floods.
When Lismore’s CBD was wiped out in the floods, the six banks were given safe haven on the University’s Lismore campus, providing the community ongoing access to vital financial services.
The Scholarships honour the spirit of partnership which has developed between the banks and University, and are a powerful symbol of the need to support people as part of the region’s ongoing recovery and renewal.
The Northern Rivers Customer-Owned Banking Scholarship – worth $15,000 – will support a first-year Bachelor of Business and Enterprise student who lived in the flood affected region at the time of the disaster. The scholarship, which will be awarded each year for six years, is being funded by Summerland Bank, Greater Bank, G&C Mutual Bank, BCU Bank, Newcastle Permanent Building Society and Southern Cross Credit Union.
Southern Cross University Vice-Chancellor Professor Tyrone Carlin said the scholarship program was a mark of the enduring spirit which had sprung from a period of deep anguish.
“This Scholarship is a generous and insightful investment in the people who can play an important role in shaping our future,” Professor Carlin said.
“As we approach the two-year anniversary of the floods, these scholarships show yet again how business, education and the community have come together in shaping the future for our region.”
Head of Products and Retail Operations at Summerland Bank, Mr Gareth Herman, said the $15,000 would be an enormous boost for any student and the partners were keen to explore other measures such as intern opportunities for the scholars.
“In the immediate aftermath of the 2022 floods, our regional banks were looking at ways to ensure our members had access to cash and essential banking services,” he said.
“We supported customers in a range of ways, including providing access to cash to make essential purchases – as many electronic payment methods were impacted by electricity and internet disruption – and the replacement of important documents like cards and statements.
“Southern Cross University generously made space available on its Lismore campus and within six days the six customer-owned banks had a banking operation up and running.
“Since then, we have been exploring ways to repay the generosity of Southern Cross University by supporting regionally based students affected by the floods and the recovery and rebuilding process. The scholarships initiative grew from there.
Chief of People and Distribution at Southern Cross Credit Union, Mrs Jessica Jackson, said supporting customers and the community was part of the credit union ethos.
“All the institutions involved share the same view of the importance of supporting our community and next generations,” she said.
The first of the six scholarships begins in Term 1 2024 and is available for applicants preparing to study on-campus or online.