17 April 2018
Teachers Mutual Bank’s visit to the field

Last month, Cufa hosted Teachers Mutual Bank (TMB) on a Cambodian Study Tour to see the Children's Financial Literacy program, chat with Village Entrepreneurs, meet savings bank members, and learn more about the local culture, history and way of life. 

Let's meet some of the group from the trip!

Camilla Gallacher from Teachers Mutual Bank visits a CFL program

Name Camilla Gallacher, Business Analyst at TMB

What were your expectations of the trip? "I was looking forward to seeing how the donations and support from both Teachers Mutual Bank and staff themselves, help the people in Cambodia with their small businesses, and help the children learn about financial literacy. I also wanted to get an understanding of what the Cambodian people went through during the Khmer Rouge."

Which Cufa projects did you find most interesting? "I absolutely LOVED experiencing the classroom lessons as part of the Children's Financial Literacy program. That was by far my most favourite part. The children were just beautiful and very welcoming. They were drawn to us like magnets and were very happy to see us take part in their lessons.

The Village Entrepreneurs program was pretty special too. To see the determination of these villagers in expanding their businesses to increase their income (even though very minimal) was admirable."

Any other feedback? "Thank you for this wonderful opportunity that I will forever treasure and be grateful for. Cufa's work with the Cambodian people is something to be very proud of and hopefully will continue long into the future to allow these people to develop and rebuild their communities."

David Goska from Teachers Mutual Bank on Cambodia Study Tour

Name David Goska, Project Manager at TMB

What were your expectations of the trip? "I looked forward to working with Village Entrepreneurs, and children in the financial literacy program and discovering things about the Cambodian culture and way of life."

How was the trip different from your expectations? "I really had no idea about the Khmer Rouge and everything that happened in the 1970s. It was a grounding and eye opening experience."

Which Cufa projects did you find most interesting? "The Village Entrepreneur program is most interesting to me. These are real people with real stories. People with so little, are so happy and optimistic about their future, and the approach Cufa have to helping them help themselves is fantastic.

I also liked the Children's Financial Literacy (CFL) program. The CFL program is essential now, and over time, these lessons about savings and needs, versus wants will become part of the culture and passed down from parent to child as they were to me. 

The small savings banks are interesting because we work in the same industry. I can imagine Teachers Credit Union starting out 50 years ago in a similar fashion, and think the movement is fantastic for the people of Cambodia."

Thank you, Camilla and David from Teachers Mutual Bank for sharing your highlights!

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16 April 2018
University of Sydney Research Project

Cufa is participating in an independent research project into Volunteer Tourism, initiated by Professor Leanne Cutcher, Dr. Anya Johnson and Ms Mina Askovic from the University of Sydney Business School.

The research team are interested in learning about experiences as a volunteer, whether in a corporate or a not-for-profit setting, and also organisational staff members who have worked with someone who has volunteered.

Through a short-interview, participants will share insights, informing future volunteer program design and help ensure effective provision of support and resources reaches those who need it most. All participants will receive a summary booklet of the research study key findings.

For further information about the project and how to get involved, please contact Mina Askovic directly.

IMPORTANT:  While Cufa supports this project, it is an independent University of Sydney study.


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16 April 2018
Conversations in Development podcast

Launching at the end of this month is Cufa's own podcast series, Conversations in Development, an open and honest discussion about issues in the foreign aid and development sector.  Co-hosted by Cufa's CEO, Dr Peter Mason, and audio producer and journalist, Olivia Rosenman, each episode will feature a guest who is an expert in their field. Get ready to stream the podcast from 30 April, 2018! 

The first episode of Conversations in Development is "Blurring the lines between good intentions and good business" and features special guest, Antony Loewenstein. An independent journalist and author, Antony also co-produced the recent documentary, Disaster Capitalism. He joins the  Conversations in Development hosts to discuss the "business" of foreign aid. Are good intentions enough, or does there need to be more accountability?

Upcoming episodes will explore diverse themes around development covering everything from: how can refugees contribute to economic growth, child labour and supply chain, the cost of volunteer tourism, how can aid prevent conflict and much, much more!

Be inspired, entertained and intrigued by Conversations in Development,  streaming from 30 April, 2018. Visit the website: to find out more.

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16 April 2018
Graham Olrich joins Cufa’s Board of Directors

Our Chair Margot Sweeny is delighted to announce that Mr. Graham Olrich has recently joined Cufa's Board of Directors. 
Mr. Graham Olrich - Cufa Board of Directors

With over 38 years of experience in the retail banking sector, Graham will bring valuable knowledge of strategy, leadership, risk management and business development to the Board.

Graham was CEO of Credit Union Australia (CUA) for 14 years, and currently runs his own consultancy business. He has been Chairman of the Board at Regional Australia Bank since 2014, Chairman of the Board at TSWG since 2016, and currently holds a Board member position at Summerland Credit Union, and The Capricornian.



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13 February 2018
Cufa Chair Receives Order of Australia
Cufa congratulates our Chair Margot Sweeny.  

The Cufa team is proud to congratulate our Chair, Ms Margot Sweeny for receiving an Order of Australia today.

Ms Margot Sweeny has played an active role in the Australian community for more than 40 years. Arriving from her native Canada as a teenager in the 1960s, Ms Sweeny has worked tirelessly to create a cohesive and robust community in regional New South Wales, as well as contributing to international outreach. Her work has often focused on financial inclusion and providing appropriate and accessible financial services to local communities, otherwise underserved or excluded.

Ms Sweeny is the Chair of Cufa (previously known as the Credit Union Foundation Australia). She has held this office since 2010. Under Ms Sweeny's leadership, CUFA has gone from strength to strength. The organisation now reaches 4,000,000 people directly and indirectly, and achieves a social return on investment of $8.07 for every $1 invested. Ms Sweeny takes a hands-on approach to her board role, willingly travelling to remote communities in Cambodia, Myanmar, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea. She has guided the organisations strategic direction and worked to support both the operational staff and her fellow board members. Additionally, Ms Sweeny is a financial donor to Cufa, providing public philanthropic leadership and encouraging other like-minded individuals to support the organisation.

Ms Sweeny has been the Chief Executive Officer of Summerland Credit Union in Lismore since 1999, having previously participated in the credit union as a member and on the board. Under her leadership, Summerland Credit Union has grown in membership and now plays an important role in the identity of the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, as well as serving the financial services needs of locals.

Ms Sweeny is an active corporate citizen in the Northern Rivers of NSW and has participated in various regional development organisations and advisory groups over the past two decades. She was a founding member of the Northern Rivers Community Foundation and served five years as Secretary of the Northern Rivers Area Consultative Committee and five years as Chair of The Northern Rivers Regional Development Board, both positions were Government appointed.

Ms Sweeny also has a strong academic background in finance and accounting, having eight years of experience as lecturer at the Southern Cross University, where she has held several governance roles such as the member of University Council, Chair of Finance Committee and Deputy Chair of Audit & Risk Committee. Additionally, Ms Sweeny is a tireless advocate for the environment and the preservation of wildlife. At present, she is the Patron of Friends of the Koala Inc in the Far North Coast of NSW.

Ms Sweeny is known and recognised for her unbridled energy and enthusiasm, as well as her willingness to tackle all issues big or small. She is generous with her time and supportive of the individuals around her. She believes in the importance of the community and uses her finance and banking skills to grow communities by promoting inclusive and accessible financial services.

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21 November 2017
Creating Infinite Value in Myanmar

Since 2015 we have been working with Self Help Groups in 30 villages across Myanmar, supporting them to develop their own village savings bank through our Credit Union Development (CUD) Project. The impact has produced life-changing results for the village women, men, children and their community. 

Our Myanmar Country Manager, KZ (real name Kyaw Zin Myo), thinks there are many ways to alleviate poverty. But KZ believes that our CUD Project "is the best way because it provides affordable and accessible financial services tailored for the villager." 

Villager and member, Daw Aye Pone (pictured above), explains; 

"Now I will keep saving in the Self Help Group so that my family
will not have to struggle, and so they don't need to worry about money." 

Another member, Daw Than Than Cho, shares some of the benefits she experiences;

"By having the Self-Help Group in our village,
there is no need to leave the village to save money.  It is also good for creating business in our village, and for our children's education."

We will soon be releasing a new video filmed in Myanmar, sharing some of the personal stories directly from the villagers themselves!  

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