bcu awards $50,000 in community grants

Volunteers from Pregnancy Care Coffs Harbour.


TWENTY community and not-for-profit groups have been awarded a total of $50,000 through bcu’s inaugural 2020 Bill Ussher Community Grants.

Launched as part of bcu’s 50-year anniversary celebration, the Bill Ussher Community Grants provide members of the customer-owned bank with an opportunity to vote on the community and not-for-profit groups they would like to see receive support.

General Manager bcu, Michael Ribbens said bcu was passionate about supporting its members and the local communities in which they live.

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“We understand that now, more than ever, not-for-profit groups need our support,” Mr Ribbens said.

“As a customer-owned bank, any profits we make are channelled back into supporting our members, so it was important that we let our members determine where the grants were allocated.

“The level of member engagement with the grants exceeded our expectations, with over 890 member votes received.

“This was an incredible achievement and further highlights the importance our members place on supporting their local community.”

Pregnancy Care Coffs Harbour (PCCH) was one of groups to receive a $3,000 grant. Founded twenty years ago, PCCH supports local women and families who are experiencing distress or hardship due to pregnancy.

The not-for-profit group is made up of just 12 volunteers and receives no government or financial assistance, relying solely on donations and fundraising. Due to COVID-19, PCCH has been unable to conduct any of their regular fundraising events.

PCCH President, Carolyn Marsh said COVID-19 had challenged the group and had a huge impact on their financial position.

“We were so thrilled to receive the grant from bcu.

“We will use the money to continue to support local families in need,” Ms Marsh said.

Another deserving grant recipient was the Coffs Harbour Neighbourhood Centre (CHNC), that offers a range of support to disadvantaged, vulnerable, and marginalised groups.

CHNC run a Conversation Group for some of the most disadvantaged individuals in the Coffs community and is made up of women with limited English who are recent settlers to the region.

CHNC Manager, Gai Newman said the grant had increased their capacity to be innovative in the support they provide to the community.

“The aim of the group is to build and strengthen the connections between women in a safe and inclusive space, so they may contribute more extensively and be a part of the Coffs Harbour community.

“The grant will allow us to expand the Multicultural Community Conversation Group to cater for different levels of capabilities and interests.”

Following the success of the 2020 community grants, bcu are pleased to announce the continuation of the community grants program, which will become a quarterly initiative in 2021.

In a tribute to the founding treasurer of bcu, Mr Neville Spear, the grants will be renamed the Neville Spear Community Grants.

Stephen Spear, son of Neville, said the Spear family was honoured by bcu’s decision to rename its community grants after their father.

“It is truly a perfect fit, as Neville and his wife Beatrice were passionate about their local community,” Mr Spear said.

“This shone through in their volunteer work, commitment to organisations such as the RSL, St Vincent de Paul, Banana Growers’ Federation, and, of course, through their work in establishing bcu alongside the bcu Scholarship namesake Bill Ussher.

“Neville’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, many still living locally, know he would have been delighted with this recognition.

“He was rightly proud of his role in developing one of the most highly regarded credit unions in Australia.

“The Spear family is appreciative that bcu continues to pay tribute to its roots within the community.”

Applications for the next round of the Neville Spear Community Grants will open shortly.

For more information, or to nominate a community or not-for-profit group, visit the bcu website.

Below is a full list of 2020 Bill Ussher Community Grant Recipients:



  • Coffs Harbour City SES
  • Woolgoolga Lake Working Group Inc.
  • Pregnancy Care Coffs Harbour
  • Coffs Coast Pipes and Drums
  • Volunteering Coffs Harbour Inc.



  • Sawtell Toormina Netball Club
  • Woolgoolga Red Cross Branch
  • Woolgoolga Junior Surf Lifesaving Club
  • Sawtell Panthers Rugby League Football Club
  • Woolgoolga Regional Community Garden Inc.





  • BCDAI (The Bowraville Community Development Association Inc.)
  • Murwillumbah Rural Fire Brigade
  • Bellinger River Agricultural Show Society Ltd
  • Connect to You (Community transport service for the elderly)
  • Stuarts Point Men’s Shed Incorporated (Men’s health group)



  • Jimboomba Equine Carriage Club Inc.
  • Aikido Community Inc. (Self-defence)
  • South Coffs Community Garden Inc.
  • Iluka Woombah Men’s Shed
  • Selfseen (Holistic men’s health group)
Volunteers from Coffs Harbour Neighbourhood Centre.

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