Jerramungup’s only bank set to close as Bankwest prepares to shut down on February 10

Headshot of Sean Van Der Wielen
Sean Van Der WielenGreat Southern Herald
Camera IconJerramungup. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

Jerramungup is set to lose its only bank as it becomes the latest victim of the country’s regional bank closures.

Bankwest will shut down its local branch on February 10, with the company blaming staffing issues and the shift towards online banking.

Bankwest personal banking general manager Scott Spittles said closing the branch was a difficult decision but circumstances had made it “difficult to continue”.

Obstacles included low customer numbers and meeting legal and safety requirements to staff the bank with two people.

“Jerramungup’s actual operating days and times have been far less than even the reduced and advertised hours, because every time a colleague is unwell or on leave and we can’t source a replacement, we can’t legally open the branch,” he said.

The Jerramungup branch had been operating for three half-days each week but has now been cut back to about once a month.

Mr Spittles said there would be other options available to residents.

“I’m sorry for the inconvenience this will cause some customers, but the extension of our partnership with Australia Post means customers have access to a consistent service for everyday banking transactions through the town’s Bank@Post,” he said.

Jerramungup residents who want to visit a bank branch will now be faced with a commute of at least 90 minutes to the nearest branches in Lake Grace, Katanning or Mt Barker.

Morawa in the state’s Mid West is also set to lose its Bankwest branch on February 24.

The company said it would seek to redeploy redundant staff from both branches.

It is the second bank branch to close in the region in a matter of months, with Wagin’s NAB branch permanently shutting its doors in July.

Regional bank closures are now the focus of a taskforce set up by the Federal Government to determine their impact on local communities.

Shire of Jerramungup chief executive officer Martin Cuthbert said the decision to close the branch was “regrettable”.

“While we are conscious of the many technological and behavioural changes in the way many of us now do our banking, it is always regrettable when services are lost to rural communities,” he said.

“It just presents a further suit of challenges and adjustments for our community which many small regional communities like ours seem to be constantly facing and having to adapt to.”

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