THERE’S been a heated backlash to the announcement by Bendigo Bank that they intend closing the last remaining bank branch in Korumburra on Friday, May 14, 2021.

Social media went into overdrive with negative sentiment as soon as the news got out last Thursday. The Korumburra Business Association (KBA) was critical as well, and Gippsland South MP Danny O’Brien has also weighed in.

“The decision of the Bendigo Bank to close the last bank branch in Korumburra is very disappointing. Korumburra is a vibrant community, it is growing and its best days are ahead of it,” Mr O’Brien said.

“While many people now utilise online banking, Korumburra also has an elderly community and many local businesses that still rely on face-to-face banking services.”

It was typical of the sentiments from the community online, prompting the KBA to call a public meeting this Monday night, April 12 at 7.30pm at the Korumburra Recreation Centre.

Morwell is also set to lose its Bendigo Bank branch on the same day, but Bendigo has confirmed that the ATMs in both towns will remain.

Accounts at Korumburra will automatically be switched to Leongatha.

Secretary of the KBA Noelene Cosson says Bendigo Bank should reconsider.

“How can they leave a town this size without a bank?” Mrs Cosson asked.

“It’s not as if Korumburra is shrinking, it’s actually growing and growing strongly.

“It’s devastating for the business community, but not just business. There wouldn’t be too many towns this size that don’t have any sort of bank.

“Inverloch has two banks and Leongatha has the full range of banks I believe.

“They’re not one of the major banks, so surely there’s a bit more compassion for regional towns like Korumburra.”

Mrs Cosson said the KBA would be pursuing all options to try to keep banking services in the town.

“We want Bendigo Bank to talk to us. Maybe there’s something that can be done.

She said that the COVID-19 pandemic had had an impact on business, and in particular the use of cash, but as things settled again, she said she could see a role for face-to-face banking returning.

Not happy, Bendigo!

Here’s a sample of the feedback received on the Sentinel-Times’ Facebook page:

  • Rhonda De Stefano: Every town needs to have a bank available. Many banks are going online, but this just doesn’t cut it! Businesses need a place to put their takings and to get change (we are not yet and hopefully will never be a cashless society).
  • Deborah Anne McKinnon: Are the banks going to supply a bus for our elderly to safety transport them to do their banking in Leongatha?
  • Leonie Savage: I can’t understand why all three banks have closed in Korumburra it’s such a thriving town with lots of potential.
  • Carol McGregor: Just another kick in the guts for country towns and the aged to cope with.
  • Scott Methven: I hear lots of people upset about the bank closing and them having to travel to somewhere else to do their banking but how about the employees who have just been told they don’t have a job anymore? Or for another perspective, if everyone shopped locally, even if it cost a little bit more instead of buying everything online or from the big corporations, then maybe the branch would stay open instead of closing its doors.
  • Anthony Mardling: I think the council needs to step in and open a “community multi-bank” where the previous banks in town are represented almost like a food court, only for banking.