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Carlton Connected Communities

Connie Foong

Tue Nov 30 2010


A NEW banking initiative is being launched to support community projects and groups in Carlton.

An informal committee – currently represented by residents, students and workers in Carlton – has been working with Bendigo Bank in Carlton and the Melbourne City Council to establish a Carlton Connected Communities Fund.

Under the program, the Bendigo Bank in Carlton would provide an ongoing revenue stream by committing 0.12 per cent of overall profits from new accounts and 0.05 per cent from existing accounts to support grassroots-driven projects benefitting the Carlton community.

But the committee will first have to win the support of the community by obtaining 150 pledges for new and existing banking business at the Bendigo Bank Carlton branch.

Susanna Bevilacqua, community and business development manager at Bendigo Bank Carlton, said the community approach to banking has worked well in regional Victoria and helped numerous communities build vital infrastructure like sporting facilities and health services in the past 15 years.

“We want to be able to engage with the community at the local level,” Ms Bevilacqua said.

“The (Carlton) initiative began with the bank approaching the local council to identify community needs… and working with the council on a community plan they have put together.”

The Carlton Community Plan was formally launched in September 2010, following extensive contributions from the Carlton community to identify shared challenges, priorities and actions to make Carlton a vibrant, inclusive, equitable and thriving place to live, work, study and visit.

“We might have the infrastructure, but there might be services that are missing. We might live near the city, but it doesn’t mean we have everything,” Ms Bevilacqua said.

“From people living in the housing estate feeling disconnected, the lack of jobs for migrants, to the student population feeling isolated and not having adequate facilities – these are things that community projects can potentially help… and there are ways of bringing people together to make it more united.”

At the end of November, the committee was just shy of reaching the halfway mark, with 66 pledges of support.

Ms Bevilacqua said the committee was still looking for more members to play an active role in the decision-making and planning process, and the committee would be formalised and become independent of the Bendigo Bank once the 150-pledge target was met.

The Carlton Connected Communities Committee would then work with the local community to identify potential projects or initiatives and manage the fund, she said.

Any organisations, groups or businesses based in Carlton would be able to apply for grants from the Carlton Connected Communities Fund to support their services or programs.

The Bendigo Bank in Carlton is located at 186-190 Lygon St, Carlton. To sign up, or for more information on the Carlton Connected Communities program, contact Michelle Mason 96391354.