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At the time of writing, I am on my third day of what will be a fifteen day journey fondly referred to as the ‘'Mighty Ham Run’.
This journey involves several different reindeer (my regional managers) and myself travelling to all Regional Australia Bank’s branches and head offices to personally deliver each staff member a ham, chutney and fudge hamper as a thank you to them for the excellent service and hard work they have done throughout 2019. The produce comes from our regions with the hams from Alexanders Downs in Merriwa, the chutney from Perenti in Gloucester and the fudge from ‘Vickers Fudge’ in Wauchope.
This is the highlight of my year as I get to be reminded that there is a certain wonderful quality in common amongst our staff. They genuinely love customer service and have a passion for relationship banking. It gives me the opportunity to experience the mood of our regions and to catch up with staff that I probably won’t see again until next years ‘Mighty Ham Run’.
It has been somewhat confronting to drive through the towns where fires have ravaged forests and buildings alike. Yesterday yet another fire had broken out in the Port Macquarie region. It has got very personal for me this week as my oldest son Nick, volunteered to be part of a team of professional fire fighters from Darwin to help fight the fires in southern Queensland. I’ve been keen to catch up by phone with him each night to know he is safe and hear his stories of their efforts that day.
This year feels like it has been extra tough on regional Australia, not only because of this ‘once in a hundred year’ drought and the terrible fires as a result, but also because our economy is very subdued, particularly our regional retail sector with more and more empty shop fronts.
As we know, regional Australian’s are very resilient people and we help each other get through these tough times.
Despite these headwinds, your Bank has come through the year in very good shape. Our merger with Holiday Coast Credit Union will prove to be a very positive defining moment in our history, creating a very strong, sustainable regionally based Bank of quality and integrity.
I would like to send my personal thanks to all our staff for their efforts in embracing our newly merged organisation and wish you, our treasured members, a safe and restful holiday season.