In 1986, the SEC Credit Co-operative was the fastest growing credit union in Victoria. At the time it managed assets worth more than $106 million and was owned by 30,000 members – all of which was kept in order by 65 staff. Those stats are particularly interesting when you consider that earlier that year, the SEC membership voted against expanding the bond of the credit union.

SEC stood for State Electricity Commission of Victoria. The February 1986 Issue of The Common Bond, the magazine published by the Victorian Credit Co-operative Association, featured an article about SEC Credit Co-operative that explained the reason for its existence and its relationship with the SEC:

“We have been totally autonomous since 1973. The SEC recognises the contribution the credit union is making towards the financial and related services of its employees and receives the Commission’s full support and encouragement”, said SEC Credit Co-op General Manager, Howard Betts.

Mr Betts went on to outline how SEC allows liaison officers of the credit union to speak to employees from time to time and encourages the display of credit union information on office notice boards.

“There is no direct cost to the SEC. They recognise that employees will work more safely with better productivity if they don’t have financial worries”, said Mr Betts.

The Common Bond article noted the strong record of SEC Credit Co-op and that recent times offered great opportunities but also significant challenges. Mr Betts said, “1985 was a breakthrough year for credit unions with Visa, Redicard and member chequing becoming available”.

At the same time there was the challenge of deregulation. Mr Betts said:

“Credit unions have got to lift their game in a number of areas. We are right in the vortex of deregulation of financial institutions and there are areas in which we are not seen to be competitive. Many credit unions have lost the vision of what credit unions were established for – cheap loans. Some credit unions must examine themselves because banks and building societies are putting out better interest rates for consumer loans than credit unions.”

SEC Credit Co-op was heavily involved in the Sounds of Silver campaign during the 1980s which raised money for the Deafness Foundation. However, Mr Betts said that, “Above all else our credit union is about people and it is our responsibility to provide for their financial and allied services needs within a co-operative environment”.

SEC Credit Co-operative became Enterprise Credit Union in 1984 and merged with Outlook Credit Union and CSIRO Co-operative Credit Society in 1998, becoming Members Australia Credit Union.