Kaitlyn Meehan, 23, Move Bank, Australia
I see the cooperative identity as a pathway forward to better global communities which are established on a foundation of fairness and working towards common goals.
As a young person it is troubling to see the ongoing challenges faced across the globe and can be difficult to maintain a positive outlook for our future. As more time goes by it has become clear that our path forward to a sustainable life on this planet can only be achieved by a cooperative effort, with leaders and communities from all nations working together for the common good.
Before we can achieve international cooperation, we need to see the concept put into action on a smaller scale, and this is where the work of cooperatives and mutuals come into play. The values and beliefs employed by these organisations lay the foundations that we need to face global challenges head-on and instilling these principles into our communities paves the way for our future.
The cooperative movement is a working example of the good that can be achieved when we turn our focus away from individual success (whether that be as an individual person or an individual nation) and shift to a vision of community prosperity. The movement demonstrates that these two outcomes are not mutually exclusive but rather intrinsically linked.
The work I see unfolding within the mutual banking sector is a prime example of this. The financial services industry is a historically profit driven space, driving high returns for shareholders often at the peril of their customers. Australia’s recent banking royal commission called for significant changes across the industry which placed the needs of people over profit, something the mutual banking sector has been doing since its inception.
Public support of these changes reflects the demand for a cooperative style of business. Mutual banks like the one I work for are proving that you can operate sustainably and thrive whilst pouring profits back into benefitting members. The change in culture and approach to doing business is distinctly different to other places which I have worked and reinforces my drive to spread the benefits of the cooperative way across the sector.
Cooperatives within the financial services industry are working hard to provide exceptional value and meet the unique needs of niche audiences across Australia, empowering their members to improve their financial wellbeing. The flow on effect of this financial empowerment allows these individuals to improve their socio-economic status and over time improve the base level of financial stability within the country – ultimately contributing towards global goals to reduce poverty, driving economic growth, and giving people the financial resources to engage in sustainable consumption.
This is how the cooperative movement will impact my life, by providing a platform to make the meaningful and essential change that we need to achieve a better future for all.