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    CHAMPIONS OF THE WEST – Andy Moutray-Read

    Date:

    By Sian Watkins

    When he was 22 Andy Moutray-Read left his home in Lancing, West Sussex, England, on a round-the-world trip and didn’t return. His departure would be Lancing’s loss and eventually, Melbourne’s gain. 

    After working as a farm hand at Manjimup in Western Australia and playing semi-professional and professional soccer in Adelaide (he played for Azurri, now the Adelaide Blue Eagles), Darwin and Singapore, he settled in Yarraville and has spent the past 23 years not only raising a family but making a significant contribution to civic life in the inner west. 

    He is the CEO, and one of the founders, of Inner West Community Enterprises Ltd, the company that owns the franchise to Community Bank Seddon, which has allocated $2.6 million to local projects and organisations since it was established in 2009. The company is now an accredited social enterprise, which means it operates as a business but directs its profits to helping fund, establish and connect sustainable community organisations. 

    Community Bank Seddon now has 6000 customers and $370 million on its books. Several of its staff have worked there since its inception; customers can speak to the manager if they need to; the work of local artists is displayed in the branch; and it distributes a quarterly newsletter with information about its latest grant beneficiaries. 

    Moutray-Read was between jobs in 2006 when he heard, at the gym, that a group of locals were interested in setting up a community bank. “That sounds fun,” he thought at the time. 

    So he joined the group and ‘hit the streets’ to seek the financial pledges for the set-up capital required to establish a community bank franchise. The group was pledged about $750,000. Although the global financial crisis intervened, local businesses and mum-and-dad investors still managed to put up $673,000. These early investors constitute most of the bank’s 273 shareholders today. Last financial year the dividend yield was 8%. 

    The Bendigo Bank Community Bank model emerged in the late 1990s in response to hundreds of bank closures in rural and regional Australia over that decade. Under the model, locals have to raise start-up capital of about $600,000. 

    Of the community bank’s total revenue, 50% goes to the franchisor, the Bendigo Bank, and 50% to the community company. The community company then pays the operational costs from its revenue, and the surplus is invested back in the community that supports the bank. 

    There are now 307 community banks in Australia and they put $32.9 million back into local communities last financial year alone. Moutray-Read says that community banks provide Bendigo Bank with revenue it would not otherwise have received. 

    Moutray-Read is also the CEO of the Inner West Community Foundation, an independent and wholly voluntary organisation now known as Local Impact. Funding from Inner West Community Enterprises enables Local Impact to support the various programs it has created and/or oversees. Local Impact received $1.23m last financial year from the Community Bank, and it also receives money from other sources, including corporate, philanthropic and government grants. 

    On top of the $1.23 million it gave Local Impact last year, the community bank distributed about $160,000 worth of sponsorships and community grants. 

    One grant enabled about 40 grade 5 and 6 students from Sunshine Primary School to attend a three-day Urban Camp based in Parkville. Activities included trips to Scienceworks, the Planetarium, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne Museum and a river cruise. Teacher Natalie Talbot said the experience was fabulous and, “for too many of our students, a world beyond their usual experience”. 

    Local Impact

    • continues to provide governance and business advice to the Westsider, an independent monthly newspaper (print and digital), which it saved from closure in 2017
    • founded MAD (Make a difference) Youth, a financially independent youth-run community group
    • developed, in partnership with Victoria University, a financial literacy program (the Money Mentor program) for high school students in the west – the program has been adapted for job starters and community groups 
    • provides grant-writing help to community organisations, small businesses and not-for-profits
    • provides wide-ranging support for the Flemington and Kensington social housing communities
    • established, with members of the local Rotary group, the Community Bike Hub.

    The Bike Hub employs six part-time bike mechanics who service and repair bikes. It also provides bike maintenance and safe-riding programs and gives recycled bikes and equipment to refugees, asylum seekers and other disadvantaged people. Every year, all Year 9 students at Footscray High School spend four consecutive days at the hub learning to build and maintain a bike. 

    In the past 18 months, the hub has been given 2600 bikes, has sent 18,000 kilograms of bicycle waste to recycling, given 764 bikes to refugees and asylum seekers and taught 795 Footscray High Students. Forty people volunteer at the Hub, with 10 to 15 working there each Saturday. 

    Man speaking to group of visitors to a work site
    Andy Moutray-Read hosting visitors at the Community Bike Hub

    Moutray-Read doesn’t regard the time and energy he devotes to helping create, develop and connect civic projects and organisations as a sacrifice or burden. “My mum worked in the kitchen at primary school and always helped out at school fairs. Dad was a printer who worked very hard all his life. I guess those core values and that work ethic rubbed off.” 

    And what’s most important for Melbourne’s western suburbs? “Education and employment — it gives people self-belief and financial stability,” says Moutray-Read. “I’d also like to see growth in the number of social enterprises — they can achieve so much. A whole lot of government contracts could be fulfilled by social enterprises.” 

    localimpact.org.au

    Sian Watkins is an adviser with Dr Daniel Mulino. If you would like to nominate a Champion of the West, email daniel.mulino.mp@aph.gov.au

    CHAMPIONS OF THE WEST
    CHAMPIONS OF THE WEST
    Champions of the West is brought to you by Dr Daniel Mulino, federal Labor MP for Fraser. If you would like to nominate a Champion of the West, email daniel.mulino.mp@aph.gov.au

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