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ACCU 34th Development Education Course

The Australian Mutuals Foundation is proud to be the Australian Credit Union Development partner of the Asian Confederation of Credit Unions (ACCU) which partners with national credit union associations to promote and strengthen financial cooperatives enabling them to help improve the lives of those who use their services.


From 12-18 November 2023, ACCU held its 34th Development Education (DE) Course in Bangkok, Thailand. The course runs as a week-long educational workshop with approximately 60 hours of structured learning in place, whilst also giving participants the opportunity to develop leadership, presentation and communication skills and an appreciation of credit unions and how they are making a difference in people’s lives all over the world.


Over 30 participants attended the November course, with the Australian Mutuals Foundation pleased to have offered scholarships to three Australians from COBA, Horizon Bank, and Unity Bank to experience the collaborative opportunity and widen their understanding of global credit union systems.




Our scholarship winners share their insights and experiences of the 34th DE Course.


Donna Verity - Unity Bank


I was honoured to attend the 34th Asian Credit Union Development Education Workshop in Bangkok, Thailand. The experiences and learnings I had over that week will last a lifetime, and it has ignited my passion to continue to develop my knowledge of member-owned banking, advocate and innovate for the benefit of our members and their communities.


During the course, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting my co-participants as we were a part of various educational lectures, we worked together as a team and reflected upon a variety of topics relevant to the sustained future of the global cooperative, credit unions and member owned banking. This also included sustainable development goals (SDGs), financial wellness, promoting entrepreneurialism, and climate action.


The intensive workshop also focused on actively developing our confidence to perform in areas outside current knowledge and skill, develop effective presentation skills, and encourage our confidence and passion for the shared mission of our organisations.


The DE Course bought together participants from Australia, Indonesia, Nepal, Singapore and the Philippines. The cultural differences that were prominent at the start of the course quickly dissolved away in the face of our passion and desire to work together, learn from each other, and share experiences working for member-owned organisations which was truly amazing to experience.


My team consisted of eight participants from the Philippines, one from Indonesia and one Singapore. It was interesting to learn about their experiences and the issues that they were most concerned about, in particular improving the culture of saving, promoting further regulation, and continuing the effort to provide education for their members. I was quick to appreciate the differences in our experiences and reflect on my own experience of the environment in Australia. It was enlightening as these frequent, small experiences ignited my passion to become a more effective advocate and refuse to waste the privileges afforded to me.


One of the biggest takeaways from my experience at the DE Course is a renewed healthy self-reflection on the qualities of leadership that I lack. I feel more confident and want to continue to push myself out of my comfort zone, lead by example, and develop myself as a leader to more effectively serve my peers and the members that my organisation serves.



Adeline Siew – COBA (Customer Owned Banking Association)

 

I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to attend the 34th DE Course held in November 2023. The program is designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of credit union professionals and it has been a valuable and transformative experience in both my personal and professional growth. I thoroughly enjoyed how it relates back to philosophy and fundamentals of credit unions and building societies, and the purpose of their existence. It has also given me the opportunity to reflect on my personal values and purpose as they are hugely tie into what we do in our work lives.


The course is designed in a way to gradually build our knowledge, leadership, and presentation skills, in a format with a mix of group and individual activities. Interactive workshops and hands-on exercises provided opportunities to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios. We were able to utilise teamwork, thought-provoking discussion in a respectful manner to deliver tasks that we were required to complete together with participants from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Through the group discussions, we had the opportunity to share our own countries’ sector movement and development, which I found very intriguing. There were also social and networking events each night which allowed the participants to get to know other better and have some fun and laughter after a day of learnings. The sense of community fostered during the program created a supportive network that extends beyond the duration of the sessions, where some great friendships have been made.

 

The mentors of the ACCU DE Course demonstrated a deep understanding of the mutual sector and were adept at conveying their knowledge to the participants. Their passion and commitment to the sector and fostering a collaborative learning environment I found really inspirational. Great examples were set on giving back to the community by continuously being active contributors to the sector and the DE course.

 

An additional touch that Australian Mutuals Foundation organised for its participants (which I thoroughly enjoyed), was an exciting local bike tour, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. We cycled along the peaceful village roads and narrow pathways that are surrounded by nature, and stopped to experience the local markets, Buddhist temples and tasted some Thai traditional snacks.  What a fascinating way to experience the local culture and surroundings.

 

I have gained so much out from this program, and it has exceeded my expectations on multiple fronts. It was fun, inspiring, empowering and has elevated my passion and love for the mutual sector, which is all about putting its members first and serving the community. I leave the program not only with a renewed sense of purpose, I am also grateful that it has further developed my presentation and leadership skills, and navigated me out of my comfort zone with an increased level of confidence.



Rebecca Kinikini – Horizon Bank


I was fortunate to be able to attend the 34th Development Conference in Thailand. Over the course of a week, participants attended a series of tutorials and workshops under the guidance of some incredible mentors who provided insights into the mutual industry. It was the perfect opportunity to network with peers from a multitude of backgrounds who face different challenges, have differing perspective and really challenged my way of thinking. I have been in the mutual industry for my whole working career, and it was a refreshing reminder of why Credit Unions were in established, and really took me right back to the grass roots and reignite that strong appreciation for the cooperative model.


The global power of the cooperative is to unite and influence the communities all over the world to meet the needs of the people in which they operate. Whilst the program really did highlight to me the immense challenges faced by credit union's in the Asian region, it was a timely reminder that in Australia it is so important that mutuals continue to support projects, programs and events that align with our values and make a significant contribution to our communities and the lives of others.


From a personal perspective, the exposure that I have gained for my own personal and professional development has been invaluable. It took me out of my comfort zone and provided an opportunity to work on my confidence and presentation skills. We were told to 'trust the process' and whilst it was definitely challenging, I can whole-heartedly say that it turned out to be a truly enriching and rewarding experience. The workshop has inspired me to ensure I continue to strive to be a productive, influential delegate who can really bring something to the table. It was truly an honour to attend the workshop and I am forever grateful.


The ACCU 34th Development Education Course participants


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