From the genesis of the Australian Credit Union Movement in the 1940s to the 1970s, the number of credit unions in Australia grew at a steady pace. Since then while the membership of credit unions and mutual banks has grown, the number of mutual finance institutions has fallen.
It would appear that unless there are significant changes in the regulatory, socioeconomic and technological environment, this trend will continue up to a point which is probably anyone’s guess. In the 1990s, a number of groups bucked this trend and were successful in setting up and running financially viable credit unions at least for a time … One of these was Croatian Community Credit Union …
Discussions about forming the Croatian Community Credit Union began at the Punchbowl Croatian Club in Sydney in about 1996. Officially registered in the year 2000, the credit union began work in 1999. Founding Director Milan Grzic spoke to Directions magazine in April 1999 about the thinking behind the credit union in the Croatian community:
“In the past we were only known for setting up soccer clubs. Everyone can use the services of a credit union but not everyone is interested in soccer. It’ll be a unifying force.”
CUSCAL Executive Manager Mark Genovese was also interviewed by Directions on the new CU, telling them:
“The development of this credit union has been pioneering in finding a vehicle for raising and securing capital.
They’re raising capital through the use of a redeemable share instrument which operates by providing a disclosure statement to prospective investors who must be members of the credit union. The terms and conditions of the capital instrument are consistent and complementary to mutuality standards introduced by AFIC last year.”
On being asked by Directions whether he was surprised by the formation of Croatian Community Credit Union, Genovese replied:
“The market is forcing people to look for alternatives. As the market becomes more selective and aggregated, the special needs and interests of Croatians and indigenous Australians aren’t being catered for. Groups with a strong affinity should be given the opportunity to centralise economic strength and benefit.”
Grzic and his team drew inspiration from Karpaty Ukrainian Credit Union and hoped to have 1000 members after a year of operation. He told Directions that, “Initially, we’ll only be in Sydney but we’ll have a mobile van to collect memberships and we’ll provide rotating services to other [Croatian] clubs”.
In 2008, Croatian Community Credit Union merged with Community First Credit Union.